Networking Groups Are the Secret Weapon for Female Entrepreneurs

B.I.G. pod meeting at Gallo, Ridgefield in 2019

Female owned small businesses are on the rise. In fact, according to Visa ‘the rate of female entrepreneurship has been increasing more rapidly than male entrepreneurship globally.’ This trend has a positive impact for individual families and local commerce, but it can also significantly boost the global economy too.

Boston Consulting Group did an analysis before the pandemic and they concluded that ‘if women and men around the world participated equally as entrepreneurs, global GDP could ultimately rise by approximately 3% to 6%, boosting the global economy by $2.5 trillion to $5 trillion.

With so much to gain for so many, the question becomes how do we encourage more women to become entrepreneurs? How do we help more succeed against the odds when approximately half of new ventures fail in the first five years?

Access to capital has been widely reported as a barrier for female entrepreneurs. In fact, in 2018 the average loan size for women founders was 31% lower than it was for male founders. Melinda Gates  has drawn attention to the fact that ‘less than 2% of women get venture capital to fund their ideas’ in her book, ‘The Moment of Lift.’

One way to open access to capital and opportunities for female entrepreneurs is for women to join quality social networks so that they can make meaningful connections, gain inspiration from other business owners, and tap into targeted content to help them grow. It is well documented that women thrive in social settings where they can learn from each other.

According to Visa, only 65% of female small business owners know another small business owner. 91% of those that do seek advice from other women business owners. Providing women access to quality networks is a sound way to boost the number of and performance of women owned businesses.

‘By meeting other people, not only can you advertise your products and services, but you will learn what makes some businesses thrive and others crash and burn. Networking events are a great way to connect with other business owners to share ideas.’ according to Stacy Francis, President and CEO of Francis Financial.

There is abundant research that concludes that women joining networks is critical to their success. Specifically, research by the Asia Foundation, has found that ‘peer-to-peer networks encourage women to set higher aspirations for their businesses, plan for growth and embrace innovation.’

Harvard Business Review listed some criteria to consider when searching for a network to join. They cited intent as a key consideration as the ‘network must have a clearly defined purpose.’ Inclusion is also important as the network should have ‘an active membership and a diverse membership base, including a mix of new entrepreneurs and more established business owners.’ Finally, ‘the structure of the network should facilitate both formal and informal interactions.’

Women are changing the world by following their passions and growing businesses and the network that I lead in Connecticut is part of the B.I.G. Global network based in New Jersey. Ours provides women the inspiration, community and tools to help them propel their businesses and their personal lives forward.

Tara Gilvar, the founder of B.I.G. created a global network where pods are central to the networking experience for a woman who becomes a member. She can experience the sense of community with other entrepreneurial minded women and journey forward together in pods.

The ‘pod’ experience is a symbol for a sound principal of B.I.G. that ‘we are better together.’  The ‘pod’ label is representative of the pods of female marine creatures that travel together in the sea. Male marine creatures don’t travel in pods but travel alone.