Missy recently discussed how affiliate marketing shatters glass ceilings and I've echoed those opinions in years past with my note to fellow women of SEO. I don't now and never have seen “being a woman” as a disadvantage to my business success.
But, between running my affiliate marketing blog and co-owning a service that allows small business owners to incorporate online, I come into contact with many female entrepreneurs who DO seem to feel like being a woman is an “obstacle” they need to overcome.
But you know what? Being a woman in business can be an advantage – IF you embrace it and look to use it as an empowerment tool instead of an excuse – in the right places. Because the fact is that most successful female entrepreneurs that I know have a special place in their hearts for other female entrepreneurs and love helping them whenever possible.
So, without further ado, I give you five kickass resources (some paid, some free) for female entrepreneurs:
Ladies Who Launch
From networking opportunities to training opportunities to promotional opportunities to funding and finance opportunities, Ladies Who Launch is a ridiculously knowledgeable and supportive network with TONS of local chapters that hold “in person” events. This network is FILLED with successful women who've “done it” and want to help other women do it too.
Price of membership: 199-399 per year
National Association of Women Business Owners
Tons of local chapters offer local networking and training. The association has over 7,000 active members with over 70 local chapters. They have a ton of women who volunteer as leaders to mentor new female business owners within those local chapters too. Add that to their local leadership seminars and national conference and you have a powerhouse of female entrepreneur education.
Price of membership: Varies depending on your business category
The SBA Office of Women's Business Ownership and Entrepreneurial Development
The SBA's female entrepreneur division offers access to “Women Business Centers” throughout the United States. From training to grants, the WBCs offer women access to seasoned entrepreneurs and advice some female business owners may not otherwise be able to afford as well as offering a ton of free online courses to all new business owners.
Price of membership: Free
The National Association of Professional Women
NAPW, like many of the above, have tons of local chapters that offer you face to face networking opportunities with successful women business owners through local trainings and monthly lunches. In addition to their national conference, they also offer members online resources, such as their Women's Business Resource Center which offers detailed information for female start ups and walks you through everything from creating a business plan to planning for financial expenses.
Price of membership: Varies by level, but the first year is more expensive with your yearly renewal being much cheaper
Now, SCORE is not a resource specifically for women, but it has amazing information and help available to any new small business owner. They have over 13,000 mentors in 364 chapters. SCORE pairs you with a mentor in your field who has experience with your specific business type. From planning to expansion to financing – they can advise on it all. I've been using the help of SCORE mentors for almost a decade now.
Price of membership: Free
Remember though that the key to these networking groups is GETTING INVOLVED. You have to attend the luncheons and make time for chapter meetings. But if you do, you will likely find that the knowledge, advice and referrals you get as a result are well worth the effort.
Lastly – a note specifically aimed at female affiliate marketers:
You are not a website owner, you're an entrepreneur. Follow publications like WOMEN Entrepreneur. Follow other female entrepreneurs on Twitter (women like @missyward and @soniasimone to name two that you should be following). Stop thinking of your smartphone as simply access to Facebook and Twitter and fill it with apps that will help you get ahead. Change how you view yourself internally and the rest of the world will follow.
Rae Hoffman-Dolan aka “Sugarrae” is an affiliate marketing veteran and an (extremely) occasional Houston SEO consultant specializing in SEO audits and link building strategies. She is also the author of the often controversial Sugarrae blog and the SVP of Marketing for Speedy Incorporation Services. You can connect with Rae via Twitter.