October is a month dedicated to women-owned small businesses. According to Fundera, the U.S. has 12.3 million women-owned businesses, and 62% of women say their small business is their main source of income.  

'Tis the season - not for Christmas yet, but to celebrate Snyder General Store’s second birthday. Colleen Kitchens, the store’s owner, has been in retail for most of her life. This is the third store she’s owned.

"It means a lot to me, my mom-owned stores growing up, so I feel like I’m following the tradition," Kitchens said.

Although she isn’t new to the retail world, she, like many other business owners, still faced some challenges. Those included clientele and marketing.

"Not growing up in Buffalo, and maybe not having a huge community here, has been a challenge of just trying to find that community. But since I’ve been here and been part of the Women’s Business Center at Canisius, I have been able to find a really nice community," she said.

The Women’s Business Center at Canisius, one of a number of locations across the state, offers advice, support and classes for Kitchens and her fellow female entrepreneurs to help grow their business.

Sara Vescio, the center’s executive director, says other challenges women face is lack of capital.

"As we can access loans, it doesn't mean we have loan equality. So studies continue to show that women are getting less loans and smaller dollar amounts in their loans," Vescio said.

Vescio says just 2% of women are getting venture capital funding. She says other challenges include launching, hiring that first employee and learning how to lead a team.

"I mean, you've got to wonder why there is, you know, a month for everything these days or a certain day for everything. I think the really the real importance of know noting the National Women on Small Business Month is that we need to recognize how far we've come. And also recognize how far we have yet to go. It's really important to know how many women are doing this right now in and as I mentioned, well, many of them need to make it successful in order to find find their own financial independence," she said.

Vescio's advice for female entrepreneurs looking to open their own business: you don’t need to do it alone. She says there are many services available to support you.