South Dakota is nearly last when it comes to women who own businesses. The state is ranked 46th in the nation, when it comes to women-owned businesses that have employees (versus a one-person business). That’s according to the state’s office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, which lists the number is 3,579. The SBA got that information from census data. The national numbers aren’t as good as they could be, either.
According to American Express, women own four out of every ten businesses in the United States. That’s just 40%. The Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship executive director says we need to do more to support female entrepreneurs.
They say variety is the spice of life. That’s why after 25 years of teaching, Tami Brown decided to open a store.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved to play store,” Brown said.
Playtime is over, because in June, The Spice & Tea Exchange became a very real part of Downtown Sioux Falls. Things are going well, and customers keep Brown busy. She’s not afraid to spill the tea about a few frustrating perceptions people have about who runs the business.
“It’s shocking to me how many people defer to my husband when we’re standing right beside each other and they’ll ask questions about the business,” Brown said. Brown owns it with her husband, but oversees the day-to-day operations.
“We’ve got some work to do,” Brienne Maner, executive director for Zeal, said.
American Express says women-owned businesses grew 58% from 2007-2018. Maner, says there are a few ways to add to that number. One is offering executive women networks of mentors and guidance.
“What Zeal Center is here to help accomplish is connecting those business owners with the resources they need and that’s all the way down to the ground level,” Maner said.
That’s true for Sara Jamison, owner of Terra Shepherd Boutique. The recent government shutdown made it tricky to get financing from the Small Business Administration to open her store. She worked with Zeal and the SBA, which helped her with plans and got her in touch with a local bank to get a loan.
“By doing workshops at Zeal and other organizations in the community to connect with people to help you connect to the resources to find success and find guidance along the way,” Jamison said.
Jamison and Brown aren’t trying to be pioneers, they simply want to do what they love. However, you can’t ignore the fact these business owners are adding variety to life, which we all know, makes it better.
“I want our daughter to see she can do something like this. I want any woman to see you really can do what you want to do,” Brown said.