“There are a lot of barriers to entry for women entrepreneurs, especially in tech,” says Lisa Gansky, founder and CEO of Mesh Labs. “Women don’t have access to capital the same way men do. They don’t get the same mentoring or coaching. And there is still a lot of unconscious bias when women pitch their ideas—or even when they walk into a room to pitch their ideas.” But if you want to get involved with supporting women-led businesses on a smaller scale, there are plenty of ways you can help out without making a big financial commitment. Here are five simple things you can do:
1. Share Your Knowledge
When you see someone asking for advice on Twitter or Facebook about how to start her own business, consider taking a few minutes to respond with some useful information instead of just giving her a “like” or an emoji thumbs up. If someone asks for advice from your personal network on LinkedIn, consider sharing some insights from your own experience as well as providing some links that might be helpful resources for her research project.
2. Find Mentors For Women Looking To Start Their Own Businesses
If you have friends who are thinking about starting their own businesses, consider connecting them with people who can provide them with insight and guidance as they take those first steps toward launching their new ventures. Don’t worry if you don’t know anyone personally who fits this description; there are plenty of organizations that provide mentorship programs specifically designed for aspiring entrepreneurs (including Women 2.0!). You can also find mentors through online forums such as Reddit and Quora where people ask questions about everything from how much money they need to raise at launch all the way down to what kind of office furniture they should buy!
3. Encourage Women To Be Their Own Cheerleaders
There are a lot of ways that women undermine themselves. They don’t ask for what they want. They don’t ask for promotions or raises. They don’t speak up in meetings. I think we need to encourage women to be their own cheerleaders and not wait for someone else to do it for them.
4. Be An Advocate For Women-Led Businesses
If you see a woman-led business that you like, consider spreading the word about it on social media or even by writing a review on your blog or website (or in the comments section of a review site). If you have friends who are looking for new products or services, consider recommending companies led by women instead of just giving them more male-dominated options (like every other recommendation engine out there does!).
5. Invest In Women-Led Businesses
If you have the money to invest in a new business, consider putting some of it into companies led by women. There are plenty of organizations that specialize in this kind of investment, including SheEO and Backstage Capital, but if you’re looking for a more general way to invest in women-led businesses, consider investing in an index fund that includes companies from all over the world.
One option is the Global X Women’s Equality Index ETF (NASDAQ: WOMN), which invests in companies that support gender equality. Another option is the iShares MSCI ACWI ex US Gender Diversity Index Fund (NASDAQ: SHE), which holds stocks from around the world with a focus on those with “gender diversity characteristics”—like diverse leadership teams and policies that support women at work.
These are just five small steps you can take to support female entrepreneurs, but they’re also just five ways you can get started supporting women-led businesses even if your schedule is as busy as yours! If you want to learn more about what else you can do to help out, check out these resources: