How to Support Women-Owned Businesses (Even if You Can’t Afford to Buy From Them)

Image courtesy of Kaboom Pics

Women-owned businesses are on the rise.

According to WBENC, in 2017, over 1800 net new female-founded businesses were started every single day and 64% of those were started by women of color.

That’s a lot of freakin’ businesses. It’s resulted in an increase from around 400,000 female founders in 1972 to 12.3 million today.

If your idea of a business owner is a 55-year-old white man in a business suit (think: Roger Sterling, Mad Men) — think again.

The thing is, although women are starting businesses at such a rapid rate, they’re still not so easy to find in the mass market.

Just yesterday, I searched everyone’s favorite e-commerce boutique — Amazon — for a travel backpack to take on my trip to Norway next month. Nearly every single one of the ones listed was manufactured by businesses owned by men.

While there’s nothing wrong with that — hey, our dudes need support, too! — it makes it a lot more difficult to support the businesses who need us.

Women-owned businesses may be popping up like groundhogs, but 88% of them are still making less than $100,000 in revenue.

Let me repeat that. 88% of women-owned businesses are making less than $100,000 in revenue.

Our ladies need our support and they need it now. But there’s only so much we can do with our wallets. Unless you have a lot of discretionary income lying around (I, for one, can vouch for myself and say I don’t), there’s no way to support all these businesses with our plastics unless we want to be in debt the rest of our life — oh wait, many of us already are.

Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to show our support to female founders, POC founders, and small businesses as a whole. Here are a few of my favorite:

1. Engage on Social Media

Social media is an amazing tool for small businesses. It has empowered them to get in front of their audience on a regular basis and has turned into an inexpensive — if time-consuming — form of marketing.

The thing is, there’s one barrier that often keeps them from succeeding (y’know, shitty content aside): the algorithm.

Fortunately, that’s where you can come in.

Whenever you come across a business you want to support, follow them on their social media channels. Like their posts. Share things you find interesting/entertaining. Invite your friends to their events.

It’s simple, it’s free, and it doesn’t take much time. Plus, because they’re small, an encouraging comment on one of their posts goes a lot further than one on larger corporations’.

2. Refer Them to Friends & Colleagues

Just because you can’t afford to drop $215 on a handmade necklace doesn’t mean one of your friends won’t be able/want to.

Similarly, just because your business can’t afford to hire a copywriter right now doesn’t mean someone in your network can’t either.

When you come across a business you want to support, keep them top of mind and send their information to someone who might want/need it. Not only will this help the business, but it may also be the answer your friend is looking for!

3. Subscribe to Their Blog/Newsletter

Content does not write itself. There’s a lot of work that goes on in the background — work business owners & marketers are doing to get business.

If you can’t afford to buy from them now, you might be able to in 6 months or maybe even 2 years from now.

In the meantime, subscribe to their blog & newsletter to keep up with them. If they’re doing it right, you might also get great discounts and/or valuable information from it — so it’s a win-win for both sides!

4. Give Them Feedback — When They Ask For It

And, just because I have to say it, don’t give them feedback if they don’t ask for it. No mansplaining, please.

When they send you a survey and ask you to fill it out, please take the three minutes to do so.

Female founders — and small business owners in general — are wearing many hats. As such, we’re trying to do all the things while making it look perfect & easy.

I’ll tell you this right now: we need help. And the simplest way is to provide your complete and honest feedback when we ask for it.

There are many ways to support the businesses you love without having to spend money.

Of course, if you do have the money and they provide something you need, the best way is to go out of your way to make that purchase.

This might mean shopping around a little bit until you find that backpack manufactured by a woman-owned business or that brand strategist who specializes in female founders.

But I can promise you this much: it will be so worth it because you’ll feel good knowing you supported someone who needed it.

So, now it’s your turn. What are your favorite ways to support women-owned businesses & POC-owned businesses? Am I missing anything?