Federal Contracts Requiring Larger Investment for Small Businesses

A new survey conducted among small business owners who are active federal government contractors finds that their investment of time and money seeking contracting opportunities has increased by 21% over the past year, as federal contract spending has declined 12%.

This and other facts come from Trends in Federal Contracting for Small Businesses, a new report authored by Womenable from a survey conducted by us for American Express OPEN’s Victory in Procurement for Small Business program.

The survey was conducted online in October 2011 among small business owners who are registered on the Central Contractor Registry (CCR) and are either currently performing on a federal contract (prime or subcontractor) or who have done so within the past five years.

Other findings from this first of four reports drawn from the survey include:

  • On average, active contractors invested $103,827 in time and money last year seeking federal contracts, up from $86,124 in 2009;
  • Larger firms invest more seeking contracting opportunities, but so do firms owned by persons of color. Women invest somewhat less time and money seeking federal contracting opportunities than do their male counterparts;
  • On average, small firms submitted an average of 4.4 bids before they won their very first federal contract – the lesson being, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again;
  • Over the long term, experience pays off. Average bidding success rates – 38% overall – are significantly higher among firms with 10+ years of contracting experience compared to those firms with three years or less contracting experience.

The other three reports will focus on special trends among women and minority business owners, how strategies and outcomes change with level of procurement experience, and what lessons can be learned from firms that focus on subcontracting as a procurement strategy.

To learn more and download a copy of the report, read this Womenable-authored blogpost on openforum.com. Look for the next report from this survey in about a month; it will focus on the key findings among women and minority business owners.

Pearls from New GEM Women’s Report

A new report on trends in women’s entrepreneurship, drawing on the multi-country Global Entrepreneurship Monitor surveys, has just been published by a team of researchers from Babson College. The GEM 2010 Women’s Report draws on data collected from surveys of over 175,000 adults in 59 countries, including 14,000 women business owners.

As in previous GEM women’s reports, the researchers point to a continuing gap in entrepreneurial activity among women compared to men, lower levels of self-confidence among women, and lower levels of growth aspirations among women business owners compared to their male counterparts.

The 59 economies are grouped into three categories (newly-named as of the 2008 GEM study and roughly equivalent to the previous low, moderate, and high income definitions): factor-driven, efficiency-driven, and innovation-driven. However, these categorizations do not seem to impact the gender analysis on many of the key findings:

  • women are found to have smaller, less diverse professional networks than men,
  • in all but one country (Ghana!), women are less likely than men to own businesses, and
  • while internationalization increases with economic development, in all three types of economies women are less likely to trade internationally than men.

One intriguing new analysis contained in this report is a look at entrepreneurship gender gaps over time in the 16 countries that have been included in the GEM consortium for most of the past nine years. It was found that the gender gaps in entrepreneurship rates that had been quite wide in Argentina and Brazil as of 2002 have now virtually disappeared, while – conversely – in China where there had previously been no gender gap in entrepreneurship rates there is now a significant gap, with women now being much less likely than men to own a business.

For more information about the report, and to download a free copy of the 56-page report, CLICK HERE, and for a listing of all five GEM women’s reports published since 2004, CLICK HERE.

Top Ten Womenabling Events of 2011

What events, trends and research reports top our list of the most important of the year? Look no further than Womenable’s most recent quarterly e-newsletter for our insights. Some of the items making it onto our Top Ten list include:

  • the centenary of International Women’s Day
  • the World Bank’s most recent World Development Report, focusing on gender and development, and
  • a welcome upwelling of conversations about growth – not only bemoaning the lack of women at the top (so what else is new?) but finally taking aim at some of the structural barriers impeding their progress.

CLICK HERE to read the full list. Happy holidays and best wishes for a womenabling 2012!

(And, if you liked that e-newsletter and would like to subscribe to our quarterly e-news digest, please CLICK HERE to subscribe!)