Being a founder requires a massive amount of support—from family and friends, for sure, but also from other founders. Having a group of people who've gone through the same kind of experience as you can help you tackle the unique struggles of running a business.
I've found my entrepreneurial support in the form of various women's collectives. These communities have given me everything from moral support to actionable feedback, and have had a direct impact on both the traffic to our website and the growth of our business.
Here are the four communities for women-owned businesses that have helped Bastet Noir expand while also helping me personally evolve as a founder.
1. Female Founder Collective
Launched in 2018 by Rebecca Minkoff and Ali Wyatt, The Female Founder Collective (FFC) is a non-profit that helps women-owned businesses grow through content, connections, and even monetary grants.
I first heard about this community on the Superwomen podcast, hosted by Rebecca Minkoff. When I joined, the group counted around 200 members, all women entrepreneurs—each and every one an expert in their respective fields. What kept me there was everyone's willingness to extend a helping hand to newbies like me.
As a member, you'll get all sorts of benefits:
A Google Group where members post everything from job openings to partnerships to offerings for their own services.
A weekly newsletter that features grants specifically aimed at women-owned businesses.
Fireside chats with amazing women entrepreneurs who've been through the process of founding and the pains of growing their own business.
A Slack group, where you can directly contact other FFC members.
FFC now has thousands of members, which means your access to knowledge and opportunities is massive. For example, I reached out to founders of complementary businesses to organize partnered giveaways: our customers found out about them, and we got new customers from their audience.
2. Ladies Get Paid
Ladies Get Paid isn't only for founders, but its goal of promoting the professional and financial advancement of women aligns with any women-owned business.
Founded by Claire Wasserman and numbering over 50,000 members, it's been one of the most important platforms for my education. They offer courses and events, many of them free, that speak to all sorts of topics, including entrepreneurship. For example, during tax season, they organized a Zoom call with a tax advisor to help women-owned businesses file their taxes efficiently and appropriately.
During the pandemic, this group was great about hosting virtual events, which meant that—even from across the world—I was able to hear from and chat with brilliant women like Arlan Hamilton, who spoke about their journeys and offered tips on how to attract investors.
DWEN (Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network) is kind of like LinkedIn for women. It functions like a social network, with feed announcements, contact requests, and groups centered around different interests.
During their online summit in 2021, I was able to watch and directly correspond with women like Kendra Scott and Bobbi Brown. This kind of opportunity would have never been available to me in North Macedonia: while the events here are incredible for local businesses, having access to new kinds of international resources is invaluable for an online business that extends beyond one country's borders.
The summit was a true networking experience. I met so many incredible women entrepreneurs, who I'm still in touch with today. One of them was Kathryn Rose, the co-founder of wiseHer, an amazing platform that connects business owners with female experts—yet another resource for any entrepreneur.
Dough is a smaller platform, but for that reason, it's a really tight-knit community. It started as a directory listing small women-owned businesses, grew into a marketplace of women-founded small companies, and now serves as a women's collective to help create connections and offer resources.
What I love most about this community is the "coffee chats" they organize. They're usually organized in groups of five or so women, and it's a time to share stories about your beginnings, bounce ideas off other founders, and just generally offer support for each other. It's like the brainstorming session you never knew you needed.
At the end of each coffee chat, everyone is asked to share two things:
A "give"—something you're good at and can teach someone else.
A "take"—something you're not as good at and would like someone to help you with.
It's inspiring and actionable all in one video call.
Explore communities in your niche
These women's collectives have worked wonders for my personal and professional journey as a founder. But it's been equally as important for me to find collectives focused on my industry.
For example, in addition to women's communities, I've joined communities for my niche. One of my favorites is Nest, a community for promoting gender equity and economic inclusion in the handworker economy. When I first stumbled across it, I wasn't really aware of the importance of the artisanal side of our business: we didn't even really communicate it on our brand story. Nest helped me understand the power of that message, and it ended up being the missing piece of the puzzle for us. The community also helped me find mentorship programs and even explore investment opportunities.
I can't overstate how important these communities have been for my personal and professional journey as a founder. The support they offer—logistically, financially, emotionally, and beyond—is a must-have for any entrepreneur.