In honor of Women's History Month, the U.S. Small Business Administration held a Twitter chat on March 23, dedicated to answering questions about starting or growing a business.
The SBA asked several open-ended questions to the Twitterverse. Then, both the SBA and the Twitterverse--any user following the action under the hashtag #SBAchat--responded. Here are five of the questions, along with a sampling of the answers the SBA and Twitter users provided:
1. What advantages do women bring to entrepreneurship?
Google Small Biz responded to this question with a hardcore stat: "In tech, venture-backed women-owned companies bring in 12 percent more revenue than their male counterparts," read the tweet. The source for the stat was a study by the Kauffman Foundation called "Women in Technology: Evolving, Ready to Save the World." Cindy Bates, a VP at Microsoft, tweeted: "Women are rated by their peers, bosses, direct reports & other associates as overall better #leaders." Her source was a Harvard Business Review article.
2. What challenges do women entrepreneurs face?
The National Association of Women in Real Estate Businesses replied: "Imbalanced contracting & access to capital fields; misguided stereotype that women are not capable leaders when compared to men."
SCORE Mentors added, in a deft turn of self-promotion: "Lack of female role models in business. Work with women SCORE mentors or through Women's Biz Ctrs (WBCs)."
3. What resources do you recommend for women entrepreneurs?
Here Google Small Biz responded again, with a shout-out to the SBA itself. In particular, a video on YouTube in which the SBA reveals that there are more than 100 women business centers in the US:
4. What tips do you have for a stay-at-home mom looking to turn a hobby into a business?
Endurance International Group, an organization dedicated to helping small business owners with their web presences, tweeted: "As you start your business, make decisions that allow you to have the lifestyle you want so you can balance family and work."
5. What are tips for balancing home/work life?
Ashley Perssico, a content developer at Constant Contact, passed along a work-life balance tip from Marie Presti of the Presti Realty Group. Earlier in the day, Presti had tweeted that she keeps an empty fish bowl on her desk. She fills the bowl with written-down lists of fun things she wants to do, like "buy a new book." Every time Presti closes a deal, she pulls one of her fun items out of the bowl--and makes sure that she does it that week.