As an entrepreneur, Abbi Rettig not only had to juggle her corporate career but also the responsibilities of motherhood and running her small business.
Rettig founded Tickety Boo Treats, an allergen-free treat manufacturer after she and her daughter were diagnosed with celiac disease. This challenge led her down a personal nutrition journey after her diagnosis forced her to give up a variety of foods. As she progressed, Rettig learned to manage the people and activities vying for her time.
Her advice? Prioritize your life.
“I prioritize what matters, which is my family, and my business, and everything else kind of works itself out,” Rettig said. “I always tell people when they’re looking for the magic bullet and ask, ‘how do you do it? How do you keep going?’ you really just have to have a clear mission statement.”
This experience is not unique to her. Women in entrepreneurship can face prejudice, struggle to maintain work/life balance, endure burnout, and on average, receive less financial support than their male counterparts. In 2020, just 2.3% of women-owned startups received venture capital funding, according to a Crunchbase analysis.
October is National Women’s Small Business Month, dedicated to highlighting the benefits and industry women can bring to communities when they own a small business.
LINK nky spoke to Rettig, Concerted founder Sarah Murray, and Main Street Ventures Director of Communications Abby Ober about the challenges women can face while along their entrepreneurial journeys, as well as the importance of elevating their voices to inspire the next generation of founders who are women.
Currently, there are over 13 million women-owned businesses in the United States. By 2019, women-owned businesses represented 42% of all businesses in the country, generating $1.9 trillion worth of revenue, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Murray, founder of Concerted — a nonprofit tech platform that connects volunteers with concerts and other events, started her career in the music industry. As she learned the ropes, Murray said she had to find her way in an industry dominated by men. This experience primed her for an entrepreneurial career.
“I would say that I have to be ten steps ahead of any sort of question that might be coming my way in a meeting,” Murray said. “I just have to be on my A-game all the time.”
Despite this, Murray said she enjoys working in uncomfortable spaces to grow as an entrepreneur.
Rettig said one of the greatest challenges facing women-owned small businesses today is access to capital. For her, access to capital is what “helps you grow, but also the support that keeps you alive.”
“Having access to capital is difficult for any small business owner,” Rettig said. “I think that it’s even more difficult for the women segment of small business owners.”
Main Street Ventures, a Cincinnati-based entrepreneurial support nonprofit, supports 90 companies founded by women or minority entrepreneurs. That’s 47% of the organization’s grantees. Ober told LINK nky that the reason her organization focuses on women and minority founders is to close an institutional funding gap.
“The biggest reason that we focus on women founders and minority founders is that they’re honestly, very, very underfunded,” Ober said. “The biggest thing is that people need, especially women, is opportunities for funding to help them create their dream and continue to get their business off the ground.”
Rettig, Murray, and Ober all emphasized the importance of leading by example for other women who aspire to be entrepreneurs.
“It’s just showing the next generation of girls and women that they can do it too and that these paths have been forged, and they’re going to keep building on that,” Ober said.