The pandemic impacted businesses of all kinds across the country, but it was particularly stressful for women entrepreneurs. The U.S. lost 140,000 jobs in December 2020, all of which were held by women. On top of that, the pandemic forced many mothers to help their kids with online classes and further highlighted the unequal load of domestic labor that women carry.
Women have been expected to “do it all” over the past few decades, but the pandemic has exposed the systemic barriers in place. For example, women own 31% of small businesses, but their companies were also 1.7 times more likely to close in 2020. Many women were also hesitant to take on debt through paycheck protection program loans in case their businesses went under. This resulted in a “she-cession” of sorts.
If you find yourself needing support, you’re not alone. It’s OK to ask for help, though. Women play a vital role in the U.S. economy, so your recovery is critical to helping other businesses bounce back from the pandemic. There are funding and networking opportunities available to help you get back on your feet — you just need to know where to look.
Here are four things you can do to help your recovery from the coronavirus pandemic:
1. Check out organizations for women entrepreneurs.
Various organizations — such as the Female Founder Collective, the Enthuse Foundation, the Tory Burch Foundation, Women 2.0, and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council — specifically support women-owned businesses. For example, the Tory Burch Fellows Program provides opportunities for women entrepreneurs to receive $5,000 grants every year. Meanwhile, the Female Founder Collective allows women business owners to join a network of like-minded entrepreneurs to learn and grow.
2. Build your network.
Even if you’ve explored one of the organizations above, it’s crucial that you build your own network. Scour sites like Eventbrite and LinkedIn for meetup groups and entrepreneur events that can help you make professional connections. You never know who you might meet — it could change the trajectory of your business.
The most successful networking events include skill-building programs, collaboration opportunities, and key takeaways. Think about these opportunities in terms of what you can get from them. After all, they’re designed to help you!
3. Look for funding opportunities.
If you need investor funding to help you move forward after the pandemic, you’ll need to develop an exceptional pitch. Women have always faced more challenges getting funding than men; for instance, women-led startups raised only 2.3% of venture capital funding in 2020.
Just remember that you don’t have to get all of your capital from one place. There are many types of accelerators, angel investors, and crowdsourcing options to explore. Many cities are even offering incentives for new businesses post-pandemic, and several states have implemented innovative programs to address the needs of small businesses.
4. Leverage your social media accounts.
Social media has provided a reliable and safe way for women entrepreneurs to build their businesses during the pandemic. Using platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn to connect with other women entrepreneurs or customers, you can increase awareness and better market your business. Social media marketing doesn’t guarantee success, but it can help you sustainably build your audience.
If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, you’re likely feeling the pressure. Luckily, there are plenty of resources and opportunities that can make your journey easier. The coronavirus pandemic might have set you back, but you’ll bounce back stronger than ever provided you follow these four action steps.