Time was, Michelle Allard might have maxed out her credit card to foot the costs of launching her business.
Sounds like a risky last resource. But it's been a well-worn route for women entrepreneurs.
Instead, last year she landed a $25,000 bank loan backed by the government's Small Business Administration (SBA).
Now Ms. Allard runs Allard Audio Scripts in Culver City, Calif. The company transcribes screenplays onto CD, cassette, or DVD. Clients include screenwriters out to get scripts noticed and producers who need to scan scripts fast.
She's become part of what amounts to a women's movement in the entertainment industry.
But her story also illustrates a broader trend. Amid shifts in the American workplace - an increasing number of women-run businesses, a rising number of female executives - women are doing more than just ladder-climbing.
Many are successfully building their own ladders (see story at right, on others in Allard's trade). And financial institutions are exhibiting more confidence in them.
Last year, about half of all SBA loans made were to women, says Mike Stamler, an SBA spokesman in Washington.
Entrepreneurs (male and female) turned away by the banks can often get a better hearing from SBA lenders.
And women like Allard can find something more. Women's business centers at some SBA offices, for example, guide loan-seekers through prequalification programs, even help with business plans, Mr. Stamler says.
Credit-card financing may be gone for good. This kind of high interest women can work with.
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