Some of the specific hurdles facing female businesses surround the time consuming task of establishing their business in any given market to garner enough attention, respect, and credibility to allow the business to steadily grow. New small businesses operated by women, whether initially founded and operated by women or acquired through entering a franchise partnership, face the significant challenge of ascending the ranks alongside established competitors in the same market. The challenges associated with this are varied and often unique to women, though not always. Despite a growing number of female operated small businesses, with an increase of over 200,000 in 2012, it is clear that contending with existing market key players and developing strategies to increase the visibility of their business remains a challenge when bottom line figures of female operated businesses are analyzed each year. Due to the strain that such economic disadvantage can place on female operated small businesses, a number of opportunities have developed with time for the sole purpose of supporting women in business, which obviously in turn supports a diverse and robust economy. Even within the last two years changes such as the federal contracting allowance that enables federal agencies to reserve certain contracts specifically for women operated small businesses are working to adjust the playing field for female business owners. Business owners must first establish eligibility, which includes criterion of economic disadvantage, 51% owned by women and managed by women, as well as US citizenship and small business definition requirements. In addition to changes such as this, women can avail of different programs, courses, and counseling through the SBA which has taken serious steps to enable this growth of female operated businesses to continue, which is the most rapidly expanding area of the US economy, generating jobs and variety in business ownership. More information can be found here concerning one federal agency involved in this effort, the Department of Homeland Security, as well as through the SBA website directly.