UPS Longitudes | Be Brave, Be Authentic: Women Business Owners Keep Us Vibrant

Jen Earle @ NAWBO
Dec 9, 2020 11:00 AM ET
Article

Roughly a thousand women business owners gathered together recently for the annual NAWBO Women's Business Conference. This year, we did not travel to Austin, Texas, to a crowded conference center, walking the exhibit booths, exchanging business cards and giving our keynote speaker a standing ovation.

Conference attendees sat at different locations across the globe in front of their computers or mobile devices to hear inspiration, network with colleagues and figure out how to advance their businesses in the face of adversity. We focused on the true meaning of being brave, being our authentic selves.

A timely message, October marks National Women's Small Business Month, when we celebrate the contributions of women business owners. Entrepreneurs are agile, lifelong learners, and this coronavirus pandemic is providing so many lessons — the truest chance to exhibit our "brave."

“October marks National Women's Small Business Month, when we celebrate the contributions of women business owners, agile, lifelong learners.”

A long road

According to our recent NAWBO survey, women business owners are maintaining a balance about life as the COVID-19 virus spreads. While 62 percent say their business will survive if lockdowns return, the remaining 38 percent worry they have only three to nine months to stay afloat.

Regardless of the circumstances, many of these businesses are struggling, but they continue to push forward, looking past these setbacks toward long-term goals. Women business owners are innovative, changing their business plans and creating other revenue streams to remain open.

To our working moms, we hear your struggles now more than ever. And with the start of virtual schooling, it remains an uphill battle.

Many of our NAWBO moms describe themselves as a business owner, mom and teacher with no break in sight. Despite the unprecedented challenges, these women keep going even when they feel tired and beat down.

They are finding avenues to manage the stress and maintain mental wellbeing — exhibiting grace with themselves and their teams — to avoid burnout. We believe in remaining our authentic selves and keeping our businesses resilient. With that, however, we must recognize it’s going to be a long road.

“For women business owners to be resilient, we need the four C's: capital, community, confidence and Congress.”

The four C’s

For women business owners to be resilient, we need the four C's: capital, community, confidence and Congress.

Capital needs to reach our women business owners. We must work to help them overcome barriers to access capital and hopefully, Congress will set aside money specifically for these women-owned businesses.

We need to continue our efforts to build a community. Business owners need an avenue that allows them to connect with other individuals who have been through or now face similar challenges.

Our women business owners have been meeting virtually to discuss everything from helping employees with COVID-19 to shifting to a different virtual business model, as well as handling the chaos at home. NAWBO provides this community, and there are so many communities out there for women and business — find your people!

“Women business owners need confidence and support to walk the sometimes lonely and challenging path of entrepreneurship.”

Women business owners also need confidence and support to walk the sometimes lonely and challenging path of entrepreneurship. Women business owners often feel alone, pandemic or not, and we need to ensure that no one feels isolated. We must ensure women have the confidence to innovate and try new things to revitalize their businesses.

Finally, Congress. Lawmakers need to understand the contribution of women business owners.

Before the pandemic, we would boast that women business owners represent the fastest growing economic sector in the United States, employing 9.4 million people and generating $1.6 trillion in revenue. We need to ensure that these women business owners vocalize what they need from lawmakers to remain open.

Confronting challenges

The first step of being brave is recognizing our fears and facing the problems head on.

Women business owners face adversity every day, but we own our struggles, and we work together to ensure all our women business owners have the four C's of support.

As we celebrate National Women's Small Business Month, we hope everybody recognizes all the brave women who continue to keep our communities vibrant.

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