Women-Owned In Middle Tennessee: Resources for Your Business or Startup

Entrepreneurs and small business owners in Nashville, the Middle Tennessee region and across the state can choose from a wealth of resources to help start and grow their businesses.

That’s likely one reason Tennessee ranked 10th in the U.S. in Kauffman’s Growth Entrepreneurship Index for the two-year period 2105-2017, according to LaunchTN’s 2018 analysis of Tennessee’s entrepreneurial landscape. The average startup in Tennessee grew its headcount 76 percent in its first five years.

In Nashville alone, Pathway WBC and Pathway VBOC are two programs among many – the Nashville Business Portal, Nashville Entrepreneur Center, SCORE, Bunker Labs, LaunchTN, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, to name just a few.

So, with all these resources and support organizations to choose from, how do you choose what’s right for you? Which resources are best for your business and stage of growth?

Just like the businesses and entrepreneurs they serve, entrepreneur support organizations have core competencies and segments of the market where they excel. In other words, market-solution fit matters just as much in selecting a resource partner as it does for launching or growing your business.

That’s especially true for women, veteran and minority entrepreneurs and business owners whose success rates often lag those of their peers.

The healthy picture of job growth for Tennessee startups looked very different for women-owned businesses – their employment vitality, a measure of employment growth rates and average number of employees, placed Tennessee among the five lowest-performing states in the country, according to the The 2017 State of Women-Owned Business Report.

Unique challenges like that are Pathway Lending’s reason for being and why we launched Pathway WBC in 2014.

Pathway Lending is a mission-driven Community Development Financial Institution that finances businesses and strengthens communities. Our Women’s Business Center is a non-profit powered by the Small Business Administration that offers educational programming for entrepreneurs at all stages of business.

As part of a nationwide network of more than 100 Women’s Business Centers across the country, we specialize in providing training, mentoring, business development and financing opportunities for more women and minority entrepreneurs.

Our mission is to help your business grow and make an impact on the community. Hear more about how we accomplish our goals from WBC Director Courtenay Rogers and Pathway Business Advisor Phylicia Moye in the recent cityCurrent podcast.


Cohort for everyone.

Our Cohort models are at the heart of our programming, and we have one for every stage of business:

  • Our 7-week Discover Cohort is designed for businesses in the idea stage and covers market research, value proposition, revenue streams and perfecting your pitch.
  • For post-revenue start-ups, our 7-week Embark Cohort provides deep financial assistance for new businesses. Designed to address the logical next step in the growth cycle of a business, this fast paced class provides in-depth technical training. Here, we assist entrepreneurs in developing solid accounting systems and cash flow forecasts to plan for growth and ready the business for debt or equity investments.
  • For the owners of established businesses, our Ignite 360 comprehensive mentor program runs for 6 months and partners our entrepreneurs with a team of mentors hand-picked for specific challenges. Our staff is readily available to guide you in choosing the best path for your success.


Pathway Small Business Mentor Program

A large portion of what we’re funded to do here at Pathway is provide one-on-one business counseling for the hundreds of people who walk through our doors each year. We’ve got a small staff, so to have the biggest impact, we need smart, bold and capable folks to mentor our early stage entrepreneurs.

Our Pathway Small Business Mentoring Program brings together successful, forward-thinking business owners and professionals with one goal: to grow participants’ businesses to new levels.

We’re looking for the busiest and the brightest people across Tennessee to extend their expertise and help bring up the next crop of small business owners. Our volunteer mentors are trained and commit to and attend one mentoring session a month for three consecutive months for an hour with an entrepreneur who needs their expertise. They help direct the entrepreneur towards growth through active listening and by asking “why” a lot and will provide feedback and/or assistance as needed between monthly meetings.

Ready to learn more? Join us for a Blue Sky Business Modeling Workshop if you’re a business owner or apply to be a mentor if you’d like to help other entrepreneurs succeed.