For over 50 years, National Small Business Week has highlighted thriving small businesses and encouraged communities around the country to support local enterprises. This year, National Small Business Week has been postponed. Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, women business owners have been forced to adapt rapidly to new realities and market demands. In the spirit of American innovation, women-owned small businesses are taking steps to adjust to new societal norms and continue to provide essential services and products – with an eye towards ecommerce and inventive approaches to marketing and funding their enterprises.
Women-owned businesses comprise 42% of all small businesses. The approximately 13 million women business owners in the U.S. have demonstrated great resiliency and a keen ability to adapt to our current “new normal” by providing products via ecommerce, leveraging digital marketing, and looking to alternative sources of funding.
With the recent, substantial shift toward online purchasing, the World Trade Organization delved into the impact that the pandemic has had on ecommerce. The analysis noted that ecommerce can benefit small businesses and make economies more competitive. Women are particularly equipped to pivot to online platforms and resources and fill commerce voids. Etsy’s 2019 report, Celebrating Creative Entrepreneurship Across the Globe, notes that of the 2.1 million Etsy active sellers, 87% are women. Online marketplaces like Etsy and Anytown USA are great platforms for business owners and entrepreneurs to reach consumers. Home-based solopreneurs in rural communities also rely heavily on digital platforms to expand their market reach and boost sales. They are leading the charge in keeping the economy strong under social distancing measures and online purchasing is a safe way to support women-owned businesses during the stay-at-home-order.
Social media is another great way to acknowledge and support small businesses. The lockdown has produced an uptick in social media engagement and activity, along with advertising that goes along with it. With more people online and scrolling through social media platforms, we have great opportunities to share and highlight small businesses across the country. Women entrepreneurs have certainly tapped into the benefits of social media to build awareness and raise capital.
According to the NWBC report, Crowdfunding as a Capital Source for Women Entrepreneurs, there is a positive association between social media engagement and success in crowdfunding. Storytelling through social media is an effective way for women to promote their businesses and connect to potential customers or clients. Sharing their stories with other networks can be very beneficial to small business owners and provides another outlet for them to reach consumers.
Despite the impact COVID-19 has had on our economy, women business owners and entrepreneurs continue to work diligently to provide for America’s consumers and innovate in newly-discovered fashions. Even as we transition back to our pre-pandemic way of life, women will have contributed and devised new means to do business.