Back to Basics for Many New Women Business Owners?

The recent publication of the 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses report is chock-full of interesting trends and statistics, some of which we’ve covered here in recent blogposts. This time, the focus is industry diversity – and, while women-owned businesses are found in every industry and the longer-term trend is increasing diversification, over the most recent post-recessionary time period (2007-2016) the greatest growth we’re seeing is in some of the most traditional, foundational sectors for women.
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To wit, between 2007 and 2016, when the number of all women-owned businesses increased by 45%, the following four industries grew much more substantially:

  • Women-owned firms in the Other Services sector (hair and nail salons, pet sitting services) nearly doubled in number (up 98%);
  • Administrative, Support and Waste Management Services (including janitorial and landscaping services and travel agencies) are up 64%;
  • Accommodation and Food Services businesses increased by 62%; and
  • Women-owned Construction firms increased in number by 56%.

Two of these sectors are – and have been – among the most popular sectors for women in business:

  • There are currently 2.5 million women-owned firms in Other Services, accounting for 22% of all women-owned firms;
  • Health Care and Social Assistance (including child day care and home health care services) women-owned firms number 1.7 million and comprise 15% of the women-owned firm population;
  • Women-owned Professional/Scientific/Technical Services firms (including lawyers, accountants, architects, public relations firms and management consultants)number 1.4 million, comprise 13%; and
  • The Administrative, Support and Waste Management Services (including janitorial and landscaping services as well as office administrative support and travel agencies) sector is home to 1.3 million women-owned firms, comprising 11% of the women-owned firm population.

It is worth noting that a significant share of the growth in these sectors is accounted for by women of color. Overall, the report notes that 44% of women-owned firms are now minority-owned, and that nearly eight out of 10 (79%) of net new women-owned firms launched since 2007 was started by a woman of color. A significant number of these women are starting firms in traditionally female sectors. For example, while 22% of all women-owned firms are in Other Services (a large share of which are hair or nail salons), fully 36% of African American women-owned firms and 33% of Asian American women-owned firms are in this sector. In addition, while 11% of all women-owned firms are found in Administrative Services (janitorial and landscaping), 21% of Latina-owned firms are found in this sector.

So, despite more and more women launching a growing variety of businesses, certain types of traditional lines of business remain very popular – more so for many women of color.