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

 

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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.

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.

More Women-Owned Businesses at the Starting Gate

With the recent release of the findings from the soon-to-be-published 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report (here’s a link to the news release; the full report is coming soon), we now have the most up-to-date accounting of the number and growth trends among women-owned businesses in the country. As of 2014, we (Womenable authored the report, which will be published soon by American Express OPEN) 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:Census 2014 charts010

  • 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.Census 2014 charts005

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. But that’s a topic for another day!

The full report provides detailed data at the state level, industry level, and by size of firm, so stay tuned to womenable.com; the report will be posted there as soon as it’s published.

 

* “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.

NWBC Publishes 2013 Annual Report

The National Women’s Business Council, a bipartisan women’s enterprise advisory body in the US established by the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988, has published their 2013 annual report to the President, US Congress, and the US Small Business Administration.
NWBC-2013AnnualReport-cover
The colorful 40-page report contains nine policy/program recommendations grouped within four pillars (Guess which one is our favorite!):

  1. Access to Capital
  2. Access to Markets
  3. Job Creation and Growth
  4. Data

Among the recommendations are two, in our view, worth calling out and commenting upon:

  • Implement an annual Survey of Business Owners model-based program.” The SBO is the Census Bureau’s quinquennial business census, which provides we womenablers with a mother-lode of invaluable statistics on the number and growth of women-owned firms. However, being quinquennial means that the data are only published every five years, and business moves much faster than that. Of course, Womenable and American Express OPEN have published an annual State of Women-Owned Businesses reports that provide estimates in between SBO reports (see a listing of these reports HERE), but more frequent government-published data would be extraordinarily useful. However, such an expansion of SBO is also very unlikely, given the expense required and the current state of the US budget. And yet, to paraphrase Robert Browning,

    “Ah, but a woman’s reach should exceed her grasp,
    Or what’s a heaven for?”

  • Increase the number of women-owned or -led firms participating in incubators and accelerators and consider establishing an accelerator and incubator program focused on women-owned or -led firms.” Womenable has long pointed out the need for paying much more attention to issues of growth and development of existing women-owned enterprises. This is another timely recommendation, but the NWBC missed an important opportunity to call out a key partnership in this endeavor: the Nation’s 100+ women’s business centers. Rather than trying to make existing incubators and business accelerators more female-friendly (good luck with that), we should expand the remit of and financial support for WBCs to offer growth-focused programming. Indeed, most of them already do – but they are doing so outside the “marching orders” provided to them by the SBA and Congress, which essentially puts WBCs in velvet handcuffs and says that all government funds can only go toward serving nascent firms and socially and economically disadvantaged populations.

The Council has done a good job of keeping the momentum going over a period – over the past three or more years, really – of staff and leadership turnover. There’s a new Chair in place, but no Executive Director at the moment. Despite that, they’ve published a report that’s well worth reading, and using for womenabling advocacy efforts in the United States and beyond. Keep up the good work, NWBC!

Reflections on Building a Sustainable Women’s Enterprise Ecosystem

In November, I attended and spoke at the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship‘s pre-conference women’s enterprise policy day. My 25-minute presentation was entitled, “Building a Women’s Enterprise Movement That Will Stand the Test of Time: Lessons From the U.S.‘” It aimed to reflect on the recent silver anniversary of the passage of the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988, to share lessons learned from the U.S. experience, and to offer observations of the common elements that bolster and strengthen a healthy and vibrant women’s enterprise ecosystem – which could be adapted for a variety of political systems and development contexts.

Here, then, is a Slideshare Slidecast of the presentation, which you can watch and listen to as you munch on your lunch. Or, fellow womenablers, feel free to download it and play it at your next women’s business organization member gathering or networking event to fuel further discussion about what ideas you might take forward in your own community. Go forth and multiply!

WOSBs Getting Their Contracting Groove On?

How are women business owners doing in the federal procurement marketplace? According to a new report, authored by Womenable for the American Express OPEN for Government Contracts program, the answer is “increasingly well.” Even though, on average, women business owners who are active federal contractors have been seeking contracts for less time than their male counterparts, they are every bit as successful in terms of overall revenue and employment, and are rapidly catching up in terms of federal contract award value.

pot_o_goldOne reason for their growing success may be the increased traction of the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Procurement Program, established in 2011. Two years ago, just over one-third (37%) of women business owners who had self-certified as a woman-owned small business (WOSB) found that designation to be useful in seeking contracting opportunities. Now, a 67% majority of WOSBs find the designation useful, including 28% who find it very or extremely useful.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • In each of the three American Express OPEN for Government Contracts surveys, women-owned firms have been found to invest less time and money researching opportunities and submitting proposals for federal contracts. In 2012, women-owned firms spent $112,112 pursuing federal contracts, compared to the $137,040 investment made by men-owned firms;
  • The average investment made by small businesses in seeking federal contracts has, however, risen dramatically over the past three years, with a greater than average increase seen among women-owned firms (up 59% compared to a 49% increase among all small contractors);
  • While women invest less time and money seeking federal contracts, their prime and sub-contracting bidding activity and success rates match the average for all active small firm contractors; and
  • On average, it takes a small business new to the federal procurement marketplace about two years (24 months) and 4.7 unsuccessful bids before winning that all-important first contract. It took women business owners less time and effort (20 months and 4.3 unsuccessful bids) to land their first contract compared to their male counterparts (25 months and 5.0 unsuccessful bids).

So, while selling goods and services to federal agencies may not be the “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,” for many small businesses – including an increasing number owned by women – federal procurement is an important avenue to business growth.

You may download and read the report, “Women-Owned Small Businesses in Federal Procurement: Building Momentum, Reaping Rewards,” at the highlighted link. This report is the second in a series of four reports. The first, “Trends in Federal Contracting for Small Businesses,” may also be downloaded and read. The other two reports, the next focused on trends in federal contracting among minority business owners and the final, taking a look at how small business owners are utilizing subcontracting and teaming to achieve procurement success, are forthcoming.