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October marks the beginning of National Women's Small Business Month, which is dedicated to recognizing the accomplishments of women-owned businesses and the important role they play in both national and local economies. The steady rise in female entrepreneurship across the country continues to give people plenty of reasons to celebrate.

The number of businesses owned by women in the United States is on the rise. In fact, women have started an average of 1,821 businesses each day. The share of privately held businesses owned by women jumped from 30% to 40% in the past decade to a total of 12.3 million in the U.S.

In addition to showcasing the growing number of women-owned businesses, these companies are helping to grow the economy with the number of jobs and revenue they're creating.

Time to Celebrate

Today, women-led businesses span a wide variety of industries from retail and restaurants to finance and cutting edge technology. In order to capitalize on the spotlight afforded by National Women's Small Business Month, female business owners can use this as a month-long marketing opportunity to raise the visibility of businesses, products and services. Women-owned businesses can share their story with customers, vendors, service partners and the general public through social media and other company marketing materials. It's also an ideal time to partner with other local businesses owned by women to cross-promote and support one another.

Owners that run B2C businesses — retail shops, restaurants or other service businesses — can promote the month's celebrations as a means to drive additional traffic to their stores or websites. Using a combination of social and traditional media (signs and advertisements), owners can promote their businesses, and the businesses of others, with an added sale, promotion or special event.

Last October, for example, Seattle-based Zulily — known for selling brand-name clothing at a discount — created a dedicated National Women's Small Business Month page on its website that featured four weeks of sales that highlighted products sold by 100 different women-owned and women-led businesses.

The National Women's Business Council established Women's Small Business Month several years ago to recognize the women who have persevered, became successful business owners and have helped to pave the way for future female entrepreneurs. This year, the Council plans to celebrate with a social media campaign that will also coincide with a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Women's Business Ownership Act (H.R. 5050). The legislation allocated resources to support women entrepreneurs. It also eliminated discriminatory lending practices including state laws that required women to have a male relative sign a business loan.

Planning for the Future

National Women's Small Business Month is an ideal time for female business owners to take stock and plan for the future. Below are some tips for women who are looking to grow or launch a new business venture.

  • Revise or start a new five-year plan on where you want to take your business in the future, and determine which steps are needed to achieve that goal.
  • Network with other female business owners in your local community as a means to share ideas and best practices.
  • Take advantage of resources available to women at the local and national level that offer help with everything from how to write a business plan to tips on how to expand a business globally. Some national resources include the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), the National Women's Business Council (NWBC) and the Small Business Administration (SBA).
  • Consider supporting other entrepreneurs in your community by becoming a mentor.

Female entrepreneurs are taking that first step into business, and that momentum shows no signs of slowing. According to recent research, 40% of new entrepreneurs in the United States are women. KeyBank is proud to support women-owned businesses at all stages of growth, from startups to those looking to finance their next important step.

The Support You Need

For more Key4Women resources to help you reach your goals, visit, or email us to learn more.

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