CLEVELAND — The number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. has climbed 21% to nearly 13 million over the last five years. But female entrepreneurs still face a number of challenges, especially women of color.
A Cleveland woman is teaching others how to navigate those struggles and making our community a better land in the process.
For the last several weeks, Lisa McGuthry has been teaching this group of women the skills they need to help their small businesses grow. The lessons are given bi-weekly over the course of three months at her business – Our Favorite Things Boutique on Larchmere.
It's all part of a class she created called "Entrepreneur 180."
"I'm seasoned. I have a sustainable business that has grown over the past 12 and a half years. So I know what it takes to be sustainable,” McGuthry said.
That includes the process of legalizing a business, finding a niche, and handling financial responsibilities.
"All those are barriers for women who have not learned how to do it,” McGuthry said. "It's so important because as women, we are one of the growing populations of folks opening businesses."
Between 2014 and 2019, the number of women-owned businesses increased by 21%, according to a report by American Express. Those owned by women of color grew at double that rate (43%) and even more for black women (50%).
Some of those new business owners are enrolled in McGuthry’s class, like Patricia Lyons, who runs an event planning company called Perfectly Planned Events, LLC.
"I knew that Lisa could help me achieve that goal to learn about target marketing, and just growing my business,” Lyons said.
Mary Wells, the owner of One Word Encouraged, LLC, a company that sells books and apparel, said: "I'm hoping to get my business certified and forecasting for the future to be successful in the business."
Unfortunately, the statistics are against them.
The report also says black-women-owned-businesses earned an average revenue of $24,000 per company versus nearly $142,000 dollars among all women-owned businesses. That gap is the greatest of any minority.
"So its important that we now take a stand, that we grow, and that we teach others, and that we share our knowledge,” McGuthry said.
McGuthry is hoping these women use what they've learned not only for themselves, but to pass to others along the way.
"Giving back is always something I love doing, and to be inspired by her kindness and knowledge is just great,” Lyons said.
The next session of the Entrepreneur 180 course starts on April 1. Anyone interested can find more information on the Facebook event page here.