How to Help Women Entrepreneurs on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

Written by Laura Didyk, Vice President and National Lead Women Entrepreneurs, BDC

Canada is sitting on a huge reserve of untapped potential. A commodity that will improve corporate profits, innovation and grow our economy: Women.

We are a country of entrepreneurs. There are more than 1.1 million small and medium sized businesses in Canada. They account for 90% of all private sector jobs, employ 10.7 million people and contribute roughly $1 trillion to Canada’s economy. But, we can do better. 

Many studies show that investing in female entrepreneurs is a win-win for any national economy. McKinsey research has found companies with women in leadership roles outperform their industry rivals by 15% and a new Boston Consulting Group analysis shows that if women and men participated equally as entrepreneurs the GDP could rise by $5 trillion globally and $80 billion in Canada.

Today, according to new research from BDC, 28% of all entrepreneurs are women. Over the past 40 years, the number of women entrepreneurs has quadrupled, and has grown more than 3 times faster than the number of male entrepreneurs. This is great news but there is still a lot of room for improvement. 

The challenges women face when it comes to starting and growing a business are well-documented. They have less access to financing and capital, fewer mentors and role models to learn from, and smaller networks to turn to for help. 

BDC has made it a priority to support the growth and success of women entrepreneurs at every step of their business but we can’t do it alone. We all need to do our part to move the needle. So, in honour of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, I have four pieces of advice on how each of us can help women-owned and led business succeed: 

Buy their products.

Cash flow is one of the primary stressors reported by entrepreneurs (67%) according to a recent BDC study. A lot of small businesses are operating on very thin margins and you can help them build revenue and remove that stress so they can focus on building their business. When you demonstrate that you are thoughtful about where you spend your dollars, others will think twice about their purchases too.

Promote and share.

Referrals are one of the most important client acquisition tools for small businesses. In fact, 85% said referrals are the best way to acquire new customers. Building trust with and acquiring customers, particularly in the early days, can be hard for a business so give them a helping hand by promoting the products and services you love. Write reviews on their website or sites like Google or Yelp! These are easy ways to help businesses build credibility. Recommend their business on social media channels, tagging the brand and women entrepreneur for added promotion, and tell your friends.

Give them your time.

As an entrepreneur, you are often problem solving as you go, so finding allies to provide advice, insight and a listening ear can be invaluable not only for productivity but for your mental health and wellness. Only a quarter of female entrepreneurs have a mentor so I recommend that we all pay it forward: Be a mentor. Share your skills. Introduce them to your contacts who can help. 

Ask how you can help.

Don’t assume you know what they need or assume they are okay. Ask how you can help. We all benefit from a diversity of opinions that allow us to think about problems in a new light, spark a new idea, or uncover an insight we didn’t see before. Even if you don’t own a business, you still have a lot to offer – even if it’s just the support of asking.

The good news is last year, 39% of all new entrepreneurs that started businesses were women. Together, we can keep women entrepreneurs on this upward trajectory. 

Starting today, lets commit to working together to support one of our country’s most valuable resources so we can all benefit. Women business owners will grow to reach their full potential. Communities and consumers will benefit from a broader range and more innovative products and services. Our economy will thrive. Most importantly, tomorrow’s future female leaders and entrepreneurs will have access to more role models and mentors across every industry. This will give them the confidence and support to know they are capable of anything they put their minds to and in turn, continue the virtuous cycle of supporting the next generation of women entrepreneurs and visionaries.