As a result of the ongoing pandemic, the last two years have presented numerous challenges for small business owners. Despite restrictions loosening since 2020, most small businesses have remained in a state of uncertainty. Despite the difficulties, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, particularly among women, who have made significant strides in the entrepreneurial space in recent years.
From January 2021 to January 2022, New Hampshire accounted for 14,876 of nearly 5.8 million new business applications across the nation, ranking eighth amongst the states. After adjusting for population, however, the state saw an average of 1,094 applications for every 10,000 residents, not only falling under the national average, but also placing the state as the fifth lowest in the country. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, New Hampshire is home to 137,811 small businesses, making up 99 percent of all businesses within the state. Of these, a third or 46,274 to be exact are owned and/or operated by women. Approximately 41,000 of these firms are nonemployer businesses, while 5,274 have employees.
In a 2022 Guidant poll, the three most common reasons cited for women starting their businesses were that they wanted to be their own boss (57.9 percent), were dissatisfied with working in corporate America (37.7 percent), or wanted to pursue their passion (29.8 percent). Despite difficulties faced by entrepreneurs, 73.7 percent of women business owners reported being “somewhat or very happy.” The top industries for women owned small businesses were retail and e-commerce, followed by health, beauty, fitness, and business services.
For many women entrepreneurs, whether at the beginning or well into their business ventures, finding opportunities for funding and/or grants can seem few and far between. However, many organizations and administrations exist within the state to assist business owners in securing funding.
The Center for Women & Enterprise is a non-profit organization, specifically supporting entrepreneurial women throughout New Hampshire, offering networking opportunities, consultations, and workshops. Women’s Net is an organization established to give out monthly Amber Grants of $10,000 to women-owned small businesses, after receiving which, you will become eligible for the year-end jackpot of an additional $25,000. NH Grant Watch provides access to 75 different Grants for Women, including grants for women entrepreneurs, seed money to individual women, college grants for women, small business grants for women, enterprise grants and grants for minority women. Various organizations such as Live Free and Start provide extensive lists of business resources offering tools and information about funding programs and networking opportunities.