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.

Economic Impact of Women-Owned Firms Growing Across the U.S.

As noted in the recent 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report – and in our previous blogpost – women-owned firms are continuing to grow in number and economic clout at rates well above the national average. But where, geographically speaking, are women-owned firms growing? The short answer is: everywhere!

When looking at the growth in the number of women-owned firms as well as growth in revenue and employment (which we call, collectively, growth in economic clout), the 10 fastest-growing states for women-owned firms between 2007 and 2016 are:

  • North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas (all three tied for first)
  • Iowa
  • Indiana, Wyoming (tied for 5th)
  • Georgia, Tennessee (tied for 7th)
  • Utah
  • Maine

These are states in the Northeast, Midwest, South and West.

A look at the top-ranked metropolitan areas for growth in the economic clout of women-owned between 2007 and 2016 paints a slightly different picture. All of the top ten metro areas (listed below) are found east of the Mississippi River – or in Texas! However, most of the 50 most populous metropolitan areas in the country are either east of or on the banks of the Mississippi River.

  • Charlotte NC/SC
  • San Antonio TX
  • Dallas TX
  • Memphis TN/MS/AR
  • Austin TX
  • Indianapolis IN
  • Miami FL
  • Detroit MI
  • Richmond VA
  • Houston TX

Comparing heat maps of the top states and top metro areas for growth in economic clout since 2007 finds that some of the fastest-growing states are those without large cities (such as North and South Dakota, Iowa and Wyoming) and some of the fastest-growing cities (Charlotte, Miami, Detroit) are growing faster than the rest of their states.

This geographic analysis also tells us that things are definitely hopping in Texas – the top-ranked state home to four of the top 10 metro areas. Perhaps everything really is bigger in Texas!

Women of Color Driving Growth in Women’s Entrepreneurship

For the sixth year running, Womenable and American Express OPEN have taken a look at the state of women-owned businesses across the U.S., this year focusing on trends that have taken place between 2007 and 2016. The latest numbers – which can be found in The 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report and the companion Summary Tables document – are remarkable in a number of ways.

First, here are the latest back-of-the-envelope numbers for you to write down and keep handy for speeches and cocktail conversation:

  • There are now 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., employing nearly 9 million people and generating over $1.6 trillion in revenues;
  • Women-owned businesses now comprise 38% of the business population, employ 8% of the country’s private sector workforce and contribute 4% of the nation’s business revenues; and
  • Since 2007, there have been 1,072 net new women-owned firms launched each and every day.

What are the most remarkable positive trends we’re seeing in this report? Here are three:

  1. Between 2007 and 2016, while the total number of firms increased by 9%, the number of women-owned firms increased by 45% – meaning that over this period the number of women-owned firms grew at a rate fully five times the national average;Women of Color Soar
  2. Who are entering the ranks of women business owners at a fast clip? Women of color; their numbers have more than doubled since 2007, to nearly 5 million. They comprise fully 44% of all women-owned firms; and
  3. The 10 fastest-growing states for women-owned firms since 2007 in terms of economic clout (a combination of growth in number, employment and revenue) are found in every region. They are:
    • North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas (all tied for first);
    • Iowa;Top States and Cities for Growth in Women-Owned Firms
    • Indiana and Wyoming (tied for 5th);
    • Georgia and Tennessee (tied for 7th);
    • Utah; and
    • Maine.

And, on the flip side, what findings bear further scrutiny, as they may indicate a lack of advancement? Again, we’ll highlight a trio:

  1. While the share of women-owned firms keeps climbing – from 28% in 2002 to 38% today – their share of employment (8%) and revenues (4%) remains essentially unchanged;
  2. Although the number of minority women-owned businesses has increased at a rate nearly three times that of all women-owned firms since 2006 (127% versus 45%), their average annual revenues are less than half that of the average women-owned firm (just under $69,000 per annum compared to $143,000); and
  3. Despite broadening industry diversity over the past two decades, since the recession the industries with the greatest share of new women-owned firms are in some of the most historically traditional sectors for women: other services (which includes hair and nail salons, up 98% compared to 45% overall); administrative, support and waste management services (home to janitorial and landscaping businesses, +64%); and accommodation and food services (+62%).

This is just a taste of the information now available in the 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. To learn more about the current state of women-owned businesses, download, read, and share the executive report, the news release, or the full set of statistical tables by clicking on these links.

And follow this blog for additional posts on trends uncovered in the report in the coming weeks and months.

Women-Owned Businesses Continue to Flourish

Women-Owned Businesses Continue to Flourish

For the fifth year running, Womenable has combined forces with American Express OPEN to analyze trends in women’s enterprise growth and development. The 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses report (which will soon be published) tells us that:2015 SWOB charts.003

  • The number of women-owned firms in the U.S. continues to climb, and is now estimated to have surpassed 9.4 million enterprises – 30% of all businesses in the country;
  • The revenue generated by these enterprises is now estimated to stand at nearly $1.5 trillion, and has increased by 79% since 1997; and
  • Women-owned firms now employ over 7.9 million workers (excluding owners), providing one in seven jobs among privately-owned businesses.

In fact, since 1997 there have been an average of 608 net new women-owned firms launched each and every day – and the rate just over the past year stands at 887 per day. The number of women-owned firms is increasing at a rate 1-1/2 times the national average.

Where are we seeing these women-owned firms? The short answer – everywhere. Women-owned firms are found in every state and in every industry. The fastest growing industry sector is educational services, which has seen a 67% increase in the number of women-owned firms since 2007 versus an overall 21% increase. And the states seeing the fastest growth in women’s entrepreneurship are Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, North Dakota and New York.women_diverse 900x550

And who’s starting these enterprises? Increasingly, women of every ethnic background. Back in 1997, there were just under 1 million firms owned by non-Caucasian women, representing one in six (17%) women-owned firms. Now, there are an estimated 3.1 million minority women-owned firms, representing one in three (33%) women-owned firms. Indeed, the growth in the number of African American, Asian American, Latina, Native American/Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander since 1997 surpasses the growth in the number of non-minority women-owned firms several-fold. The growing diversity of women-owned firms is one of the most remarkable trends of the past decade.

The 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, like its predecessors, contains a wealth of empowering facts, figures and insights. The full report is being formatted now, but until it’s publicly available, click on the link below to download the summary tables, containing all of the statistics at the national, state, metropolitan, industry and ethnic group level.

Cheers, fellow womenablers!

2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses: Summary Tables

 

Top Ten Womenabling Research Facts of 2014

Top TenWe’ve kept tabs on the facts and figures that have been published during the course of the year (as we do every year). Here are what we consider to be the top ten new research-based facts about women business owners and their enterprises of 2014. They fall into four general categories: money, mentoring, metrics and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Here they are, along with links to the original source material for your reference. Many happy returns of the season from Womenable!

Money

  1. International CurrencyClosing the credit cap for women-owned SMEs across the developing world as a whole could boost the growth in per capita income by over 110 basis points (1.1%) on average. ~ Goldman Sachs Global Market Institute. February 2014. Giving credit where it is due.

  2. In an analysis of over 25,000 projects on Kickstarter, launched by 22,000 entrepreneurs between 2009 and 2012 and supported by over 1.1 million investors, researchers found that this crowdfunding platform is more hospitable than many other forms of business financing for women. For example: 1) a significant share of Kickstarter investors (40%) are women; 2) these women are more likely than men (40% versus 23%) to invest in women-led projects; and 3) women-led projects are more successful than those launched by men. The fundraising success rate for women was 69.5%, compared to 61.4% for men. ~ Dan Maroum, Alicia Robb, Orly Sade. May 2014. Gender Dynamics in Crowdfunding (Kickstarter): Evidence on Entrepreneurs, Investors, Deals and Taste Based Discrimination.


  3. The amount of early-stage investment in companies with a woman on the executive team has tripled to 15 percent from 5 percent in the last 15 years. Despite this positive trend, 85 percent of all venture capital–funded businesses have no women on the executive team. This is the case despite the finding that businesses with a woman on the executive team are more likely to have higher valuations at both first and last funding (64 percent higher and 49 percent higher, respectively). ~ Candida G. Brush, Patricia G. Greene, Lakshmi Balachandra, Amy E. Davis. September 2014. Women Entrepreneurs 2014: Bridging the Gender Gap in Venture Capital.


  4. In 2013 women angels represented 19.4% of the angel market, similar to 2012 (21.8%). Women-owned ventures accounted for 23% of the entrepreneurs that were seeking angel capital and 19% of these women entrepreneurs received angel investment in 2013. ~ Jeffrey Sohl, Center for Venture Research. April 2014. The Angel Investor Market in 2013: A Return to Seed Investing.

Mentors

  1. Closeup of business people with hands on handsAn analysis of high-growth women entrepreneurs (those with sales or employment growth of 20%+ over the past three years) in Latin America and the Caribbean finds that growing up in an entrepreneurial family helps define their entrepreneurial spirit. Both high-growth men and women are more likely than average to seek mentors to guide their growth. However, while high-growth men entrepreneurs seek mentors from outside their family, women tend to receive guidance from within their own families. ~ EY, Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank. March 2014. WEGrow: Unlocking the Growth Potential of Women Entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean.

  2. A comparison of a survey of women in technology firms launched between 2002 and 2012 with a more general sampling of technology firms founded in 2004 (the Kauffman Firm Survey) finds that female and male entrepreneurs have a lot in common. They would seem to start their companies for similar reasons, cite similar self-perceived reasons for success, and face similar challenges. However, several differences stand out: 1) the women technology entrepreneurs surveyed don’t appear to have had inspiring role models as their principal motivation; 2) women entrepreneurs in general appear to respond differently than men do to failure, and cite lessons learned from failure as a big reason for success; and 3) there is a financing gap when it comes to high-tech and high-potential women entrepreneurs. That financing gap turns into a growth gap in terms of company outcomes. Finding ways to fill that financing gap could have a huge payoff in job creation and innovation. ~ Alicia Robb, Susan Coleman, Dane Stangler. November 2014. Sources of Economic Hope: Women’s Entrepreneurship.

Metrics

  1. measuring_tape copyIn an analysis of the conditions in which growth-oriented women’s entrepreneurship can prosper, the United States (with a score of 83), Australia (80) and Sweden (73) are the top ranking countries among 30 analyzed. They are followed by France and Germany (tied at 67), Chile (55), the United Kingdom (54) and Poland (51) which all received an overall score of 50 or more. ~ Ruta Aidis, The GEDI Institute. June 2014. The Gender Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index.

  2. As of 2012, just under one-third (29%) of the 40.6 million business owners in Europe are women, up from 26% in 2003. Over that nine-year period, the share of business owners who are female has risen most strongly in Lichtenstein (with a 16% increase in the share of entrepreneurs who are female), Iceland (+8%), and Cyprus (+8%), compared with the overall 3% increase. ~ European Commission. September 2014. Statistical Data on Women Entrepreneurs in Europe.


  3. On average over the past 17 years, there has been a net increase of 591 women-owned businesses in the United States each and every day. The number of net new women-owned firms has fallen in the wake of the recession – there was a net increase of 714 women-owned firms per day from 2002 to 2007, and a lesser 506 per day between 2007 and 2014 – but start-up activity is increasing. Just in the past year, there have been an estimated 1,288 net new women-owned firms launched each and every day. ~ American Express OPEN & Womenable. March 2014. The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.

STEM

  1. womanlab copyWomen have increased their representation in STEM graduate enrollment, but that increase has been uneven across STEM fields. Women have achieved parity for PhDs in biological and medical sciences, but their enrollment continues to lag in some of the most entrepreneurial fields, such as bioengineering, mechanical, and civil engineering and materials science. Further, across all STEM fields, female PhDs have lower rates of entrepreneurship than their male colleagues (5% compared to 7%), and file fewer patents (15% vs. 28%). ~ Margaret E. Blume-Kohout for SBA Office of Advocacy. October 2014. Understanding the Gender Gap in STEM Fields Entrepreneurship.

  2. (A 2-for-1 listing: this report also appeared in our ‘mentors’ category) A comparison of a survey of women in technology firms launched between 2002 and 2012 with a more general sampling of technology firms founded in 2004 (the Kauffman Firm Survey) finds that female and male entrepreneurs have a lot in common. They would seem to start their companies for similar reasons, cite similar self-perceived reasons for success, and face similar challenges. However, several differences stand out: 1) the women technology entrepreneurs surveyed don’t appear to have had inspiring role models as their principal motivation; 2) women entrepreneurs in general appear to respond differently than men do to failure, and cite lessons learned from failure as a big reason for success; and 3) there is a financing gap when it comes to high-tech and high-potential women entrepreneurs. That financing gap turns into a growth gap in terms of company outcomes. Finding ways to fill that financing gap could have a huge payoff in job creation and innovation. ~ Alicia Robb, Susan Coleman, Dane Stangler. November 2014. Sources of Economic Hope: Women’s Entrepreneurship.

Women-Owned Firms Making Their Mark in Federal Procurement

As a firm grows and seeks new markets for its products and services, public sector clients can prove to be a winning avenue for expansion. That’s what many women business owners in the U.S. are finding, according to a series of recent surveys conducted among active small business contractors.

Puzzling Elements.The groundbreaking research – conducted for American Express OPEN’s Open for Government Contracts initiative by Womenable – queried business owners who are registered on the U.S. federal government’s System for Award Management (SAM) and who had performed on a contract within the previous five years. Surveys were conducted in 2010, 2011 and 2013 and – in addition to overall analysis among all small firms – special reports focusing on trends among women-owned firms were published.

According to these reports (which are listed and hyperlinked below), women-owned firms that are involved in contracting are every bit as accomplished in terms of employment and revenue size as their male counterparts. Specifically, over the past three surveys, we have learned that:

  • It takes time and money: In 2012, active small business contractors invested an average of $128,628 in time and money during the course of the year seeking federal procurement opportunities. This includes the time spent attending meetings and seminars, investigating opportunities online or in person, and preparing and submitting bids. Women business owners invested somewhat less – $112,112 – but were every bit as successful. On average, it took women-owned firms an average of 20 months and 4.3 bids before winning their first contract; very similar to the 25 months and 5 bids that it took men-owned firms.
  • Perseverance pays off: Once small firms are actively engaged in federal contracting, women-owned firms are every bit as accomplished in terms of business size as are their male colleagues. While in general, among all firms, women-owned firms are smaller than average, among active small business contractors, 31% of women and 30% of men employ 50 or more workers in their firms, and 42% and 48%, respectively, generate $1 million or more in revenue. Selling to the federal government can lead to substantial business growth!
  • Policies matter: Back in 1994, the federal government established a 5% spending goal for federal agencies to encourage contracting with women-owned small businesses. That goal has never been met, but in fiscal year 2012 it reached 4%. There’s hope that the goal will finally be reached by virtue of a recently-established WOSB Procurement Program, which gives federal agency procurement personnel more flexibility in letting out contracts for bids (including lifting prior caps on the value of contracts that could be awarded to women-owned firms). From the perspective of active women business owner contractors, the program is starting to find its footing. Back in the 2011 survey, when the program was just launched, just over one-third (37%) of women surveyed said they found the program useful in seeking federal contracting opportunities. Now, in the 2013 survey, the view has improved considerably – fully 61% find the program useful, including 28% who find it very or extremely useful. With this playing field-leveling policy, more and more women are finding federal procurement success.

Click on the links below to download and read these reports. You may also wish to read more about the American Express OPEN/SBA/WIPP ChallengeHer program or learn more about the status of the newly-strengthened Women-Owned Small Business Procurement program. According to recent procurement statistics, even though the overall 23% small business procurement goal was recently met, the 5% goal for federal spending with women-owned small businesses was not – nor has it ever – been met. A sure sign, if there ever was one, that more needs to be done to increase access for women-owned small businesses to this important avenue for growth.

2013 – Women-Owned Small Businesses in Federal Procurement: Building Momentum, Reaping Rewards

2011 – Women and Minority Small Business Contractors: Divergent Paths for Equal Success

2010 – Women and Minority Federal Small Business Contractors: Greater Challenges, Deeper Motivations, Different Strategies, and Equal Success

State of Women-Owned Businesses Report Published

Hey, fellow womenablers, your long wait is over! The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses report has now been published. You can view the American Express OPEN web summary HERE, or click HERE to simply download the full report.women_racing

We now have the most up-to-date accounting of the number and growth trends among women-owned businesses in the United States. As of 2014, we (Womenable authored the report, American Express OPEN underwrote and published it) estimate that there are 9,087,200 majority-owned and privately-held women-owned firms, employing 7,854,200 employees in addition to the owner, and generating over $1.4 trillion ($1,410,940,800,000) in revenues. What are some of the other key trends uncovered in this year’s report? Among them:

  • Between 1997 and 2014, when the number of businesses in the United States increased by 47%, the number of women-owned firms increased by 68% – a rate 1-1/2 times the national average. Indeed, the growth in the number (up 68%), employment (up 11%) and revenues (up 72%) of women-owned firms over the past 17 years exceeds the growth rates of all but the largest, publicly-traded firms – topping growth rates among all other privately-held businesses over this period.
  • Nationally, the number of women-owned firms has increased by 68% since 1997. The states with the fastest growth in the number of women-owned firms over the past 17 years are: Georgia (up 118%), Texas (98%), North Carolina (91%), Nevada (91%) and Mississippi (81%). In terms of growth in combined economic clout, however – meaning averaging together the rankings in growth in the number, revenues and employment of women-owned firms – the states in which all of these measures combined place women-owned firms in a much better than average position over the 1997 to 2014 period are: North Dakota, the District of Columbia, Nevada, Arizona and Georgia.
  • In 1997, there were just under 1 million (929,445) firms owned by women of color, accounting for one in six (17%) women-owned firms. That number has skyrocketed to an estimated 2,934,500 as of 2014, now comprising one in three (32%) women-owned firms. Firms owned by African American women number an estimated 1,237,900 as of 2014. These 1.2 million firms employ 287,100 workers in addition to the owner and generate an estimated $49.5 billion in revenue. Firms owned by Latinas number an estimated 1,033,100 as of 2014. These firms employ 433,600 workers in addition to the owner and generate an estimated $71.1 billion in revenue. Firms owned by Asian American women number an estimated 675,900 as of 2014. These firms employ 699,200 workers in addition to the owner and generate an estimated $115 billion in revenue.
  • While firms owned by women of color are smaller than non-minority women-owned businesses both in terms of average employment and revenues, their growth in number and economic clout is generally far outpacing that of all women-owned firms. Indeed, the growth in the number of African American (up 296% from 1997 to 2014), Asian American (+179%), Latina (+206%), Native American/ Alaska Native (124%), and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (+247%) women-owned firms all top the growth in the number of non-minority women-owned firms (+37%) over the past 17 years.

New this year is a look at business start-up activity, which shows that there are an increasing number of women business owners at the starting gate. On average over the past 17 years, there has been a net increase* of 591 women-owned businesses each and every day. The number of net new women-owned firms has fallen in the wake of the recession – there was a net increase of 714 women-owned firms per day from 2002 to 2007, and a lesser 506 per day between 2007 and 2014 – but start-up activity is increasing. Just in the past year, there have been an estimated 1,288 net new women-owned firms launched each and every day.

What’s the bottom line? Women business owners are not only here to stay, they are moving into entrepreneurship in equal numbers. The challenge that remains is moving women-owned firms up the growth continuum, and gaining a greater understanding of impediments to growth and how best to follow a woman’s path from a start-up with promise to a successful business that moves beyond the “majority-owned, privately-held” category to being woman-led and perhaps publicly-traded.

* “Net increase” takes into account all of the new women-owned firms minus the number of women-owned firms that either ceased operations or ceased to be majority women-owned.