By Lin Carson, PhD., CEO/Founder, BAKERpedia
Baking is my world. I had the perfect idea: a must-have product, for the industry I had worked in for over a decade. The timing was right, so I jumped into the world of startups and launched BAKERpedia. Yikes! Thankfully, I found resources to help but as my company grew, those resources thinned substantially. As a woman entrepreneur, I found there was a significant gap for me compared to my male peers.
My story is just one of thousands in the Portland area—one in 65,000 to be exact. That’s the number of underserved women business owners in our community. Sadly, this is part of a national trend, with over 7.8 million women business owners in the U.S. underserved by existing programs.
My story doesn't end there, however. I reached out to other women in similar situations and we reached the same conclusion: there is a fundamental difference between entrepreneurial paths for men and women. We started meeting to share our goals and ideas, to hold each other accountable and make practical steps to reach those goals. Our weekly meetings grew and grew until it was time to make some adjustments to effectively serve this hungry community.
So, Women Led was born. It’s a 501(c)(3) non profit with the mission of empowering women to create and build businesses that positively impact the economy. While right now we are serving the Portland area, we hope to become the most trusted organization in the U.S. that supports women business owners.
As the numbers show below, the need is real. Over the last nine years, women-owned businesses grew at 5 times the rate of the national average. However, the number of these businesses that have successfully scaled is two times lower than men-owned businesses, and three times lower than male/female owned businesses.
So why is it important to scale?
Statistics have shown that when women scale, their average revenues per company increases from $32,000 to over $899,000. This means that women significantly impact the communities around them when they are given the resources to scale.
As our group of women entrepreneurs found, the answers to scaling are identifying the resources for growth, financial capability building and peer-to-peer mentoring. This is the journey of turning a startup into a scalable company. That’s just what Women Led offers. We rise above other startup resources because we are gender specific, immediately impactful and offer continuing support and follow up.
I personally know the dedication and sacrifice it takes to turn an idea into a thriving company. But thanks to Woman Led, I know the power of community and resources. The beautiful thing about entrepreneurship is it means growth and innovation for everyone around it!