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4 Tips for Growing Your Women-Owned Small Business in 2024 To be a woman in business is a testament to resilience, courage and an unwavering spirit of self-advocacy.

By Veronica Fernandez

Key Takeaways

  • Often, building a meaningful network for your business can happen in unexpected places.
  • Having a clear mission is important as you build your brand.
  • Don't be afraid to experiment with AI-enhanced technology
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Every day, women across America are turning their dreams into reality, starting businesses with a simple spark of an idea and a persistent drive to succeed. If you're a woman who owns a small or medium-sized business (SMB), you have contributed to the transformative force shaping our economy. Not only have women-owned businesses significantly boosted the U.S. GDP, but you've also created nearly half of all new businesses for the past three years straight. However, your entrepreneurial journey goes beyond the numbers. To be a woman in business is a testament to resilience, courage and an unwavering spirit of self-advocacy.

Despite your contribution to the economy, overall, women entrepreneurs are still plagued with challenges, even more than their male counterparts. The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) found that women entrepreneurs – especially women of color – often face challenges accessing funding, building a support network, balancing business and family life, cultural biases and owning their accomplishments.

As we celebrate International Women's Month, it's essential to recognize how far you've come as a business owner and the resilience you hold to turn obstacles into opportunities. To continue your momentum, here are four powerful strategies to propel your business forward.

Related: 3 Ways Women Empower Other Women (and 3 Ways They Don't)

1. Prioritize building your network

You don't need to attend a networking event to make solid connections. Often, building a meaningful network for your business can happen in unexpected places. You never know who you may meet in an elevator, at a coffee shop, or on a plane. So, having a quick and concise elevator pitch of your product or service will be crucial as you move through the world. These conversations don't have to feel forced. Effective networking doesn't always center around what you can gain for your business; it's about building lasting relationships, sharing knowledge and offering value.

These interactions can foster a powerful sense of solidarity, particularly for women in business. Connecting with other women entrepreneurs and customers can offer a fresh perspective on your business or provide new opportunities to create a supportive ecosystem within your community. By embracing this spirit of collective success, you can enhance inclusivity in your network and champion success for everyone involved.

Related: Networking: The Most Important Thing Women Should Do for Their Careers -- But Aren't

2. Establish your business identity

Establishing what your business is about goes beyond identifying a logo or tagline; it's about defining what makes you unique and leveraging that in every interaction. If you haven't already, do some research and recollection. Consider your business' strengths and what sets it apart from everything else. Research is essential to establishing your brand, and you may need to continually invest in your own knowledge as you run and grow your business.

Having a clear mission is also important as you build your brand. While this doesn't come overnight, it can be a guiding compass for yourself and your commitment to your customers. Setting goals and identifying your core values will help propel your business forward. Always remember to embrace mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning.

3. Leverage financial resources

Equal access to capital has been a long-documented barrier for women entrepreneurs, hindering their ability to start and scale their businesses to their full potential. Times are changing, but not fast enough. Of the 42,000 small business loan applications approved by the SBA in 2023, only 21% represented women-owned businesses. Furthermore, the approved loans for women-owned businesses accounted for only 16% of the total $20 billion allocated funds.

In light of these setbacks, there are resources out there dedicated to supporting your success. Set some free time aside to research organizations that offer free resources and educational tools to help boost your business. Grant programs like Fundica's recent collaboration with Visa offer underserved small business communities access to additional sources of working capital, which can be a game-changer in overcoming financial hurdles. There are also VC firms specifically focused on scaling female-founded startups – for example, Anthemis' Female Innovators Lab Fund helps design, source, and grow female-founded embedded finance startups.

As a woman in business, your entrepreneurial journey won't always resemble a linear trajectory to success. While it may feel like you have to take some steps back, the lessons you gain in between foster the resilience and resourcefulness needed to take strides forward.

Related: 5 Ways to Support Women-Owned Businesses

4. Don't be afraid to make changes

When you analyze your business metrics over time, you're bound to spot areas where you can improve. Keeping a pulse on the evolving needs of your customers will help you get ahead of most of these improvements, turning challenges into opportunities for innovation. What once worked for your business in the past may not work for new generations of customers. That's why it's vital to treat every customer interaction as a learning experience and take their feedback in stride.

For example, Visa's recent Global Shopping Index found that 76% of U.S. shoppers would not complete a sale if they didn't have access to the digital features they wanted, like preferred payments. Adapting by implementing digital payment tools can help streamline your customers' payment experience and may even give you the ability to reach more customers in other regions.

Start by taking a test-and-learn approach when you implement a new change, whether that's with your marketing, product/ service offerings or your business operations. Don't be afraid to experiment with AI-enhanced technology, either. These tools can enhance and automate customer care for your business and provide personalized product or service recommendations based on your customer's behaviors and preferences. And remember that you are the unique ingredient in your business, but you are not in it alone. There are all sorts of resources available to help you start, run and grow your business. In addition, there is a community of other women business owners facing similar challenges and joys who can help propel you to success. Now is the perfect time to shape the future of your business.

Veronica Fernandez

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

SVP and Regional Head of North America Business Solutions

Veronica is Visa’s SVP and Regional Head of North America Business Solutions, responsible for the business, strategy and go-to-market for the U.S. and Canada. Since joining Visa in 2007, she's led numerous teams across Visa Business Solutions, North America Merchant and Prepaid.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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