Three Hidden Gems From the 2012 SBO

Happy International Women’s Day, fellow womenablers. Yesterday, at the National Women’s Business Council’s public meeting, Council member Teresa Nelson and I discussed the Council’s just-released analysis of the 2012 women’s business census, The Growth and Development of Women-Owned Enterprises in the United States, 2002-2012.

By now, many of you will know the overarching facts and trends, including:

  • Women now own nearly four in ten (36%) businesses in the U.S. These firms number nearly 10 million, employ over 8 million workers, and generate $1.4 trillion in revenues.
  • Women-owned firms are growing in number at 2-1/2 times the national average over the 2002-2012 period, and business starts among women have picked up significantly since the recession, even as overall firm formation has stagnated.
  • The number of firms owned by women of color is nothing short of phenomenal. In 2002, there were just under 1 million firms owned by women of color; that number stands at nearly 3.8 million just one decade later.

But what you might not know are three other trends that are included in this report. For the first time, the analysis includes a look at female veteran-owned firms, trends in the top 50 most populous metro areas, and a look at trends in some detailed industry categories. We found that:

  • There’s been a quadrupling in the number of female veteran-owned businesses just in the past five years, from under 100,000 to nearly 400,000.
  • Despite growing industry diversity, nearly one-third of women-owned firms can be found in these four sectors:
    • Personal care services (mostly beauty and nail salons): 987,375 women-owned firms
    • Other personal services (including pet care/pet sitting/dog walking): 732,352
    • Child day care services: 661,630
    • Services to buildings and dwellings (mostly janitorial, housecleaning and landscaping/lawn services): 655,943
  • Between 2002 and 2012, the number of women-owned firms in Memphis skyrocketed by 160%, compared to national growth of 52%, making the Bluff City the fastest-growing metro area among the 50 most populous cities in the U.S.

These trends and more can be found in the new NWBC report, The Growth and Development of Women-Owned Enterprises in the United States, 2002-2012.

Advertisements

Women-Owned Firms ARE Scaling Into the Middle Market

Women-Owned or -Led Firms Match Peers in Economic Clout

As we womenablers are well aware, monitoring the growth of women-owned firms into the upper reaches of business achievement is stymied not only by the capping of business revenues published by government statistics into the “$1 million+” category but by limiting the accounting of women-owned firms to just those businesses that are 51% or more owned by a woman or women – ignoring the contributions of women entrepreneurs who, by virtue of external investors or sharing equity with senior management, have become plurality rather than majority owners of their enterprises.

There’s now new information out from American Express and Dun & Bradstreet – based on D&B’s extensive database of commercially active U.S. firms – which clearly shows that, when those categorical definitions are shed, women entrepreneurs are scaling into the upper reaches of business achievement at rates equal to the average enterprise.

The new report, “The Middle Market Power Index: The Growing Economic Clout of Diverse Middle Market Firms” – authored by Womenable – finds that:
Women_Growing_Into_Middle_Market

  • Women entrepreneurs are just as likely as their male counterparts to own a middle market enterprise: Less than 1% (0.7%) of commercially-active businesses are in the middle market (defined as firms with between $10 million and $1 billion in revenues). Similar shares of women-owned/women-led firms (0.4%) and majority women-owned firms (0.7%) are found in the middle market.
  • Women are moving into the middle market at impressive rates: Between 2008 and 2014, while the number of middle market firms increased by 4.1% overall, the number of women-owned or -led firms in the middle market has increased by 32.4%, and the number of majority women-owned firms in the middle market has increased by 23.6%. Thus, women and are entering into the middle market at rates five to seven times the rate of all commercially-active businesses.
  • Women-owned and -led firms in the middle market account for a large share of employment and revenues: Women-owned/women-led middle market firms comprise just 0.4% of all women-owned or -led firms, yet employ one-quarter (23%) of workers and contribute one-quarter (25%) of the revenues accounted for by all women-owned/women-led firms. Similarly, majority (51%+) women-owned firms in the middle market represent 0.7% of all women-owned firms, yet employ one-quarter (23%) of workers and contribute one-third (32%) of revenues accounted for by majority women-owned firms.
  • Women-owned/-led firms stand toe to toe with their peers in terms of economic clout: Sixteen percent (16%) of middle market firms with a female CEO generate $50 million or more in revenues, as do 17% of all middle market enterprises. Further, 16% of female-led middle market firms employ 500 or more workers, as do 15% of all middle market enterprises.

In addition to a look at trends among women-owned and women-owned and -led firms, the report also investigates the growth of minority-owned firms in the middle market.

To download and read this exciting new report, click on the link above or visit Womenable’s authored research page (which also includes another growth-focused analysis that may be of interest, “Growing Under the Radar.”). An infographic summarizing the key findings of this analysis from a women’s entrepreneurship perspective is available on Womenable’s Infogr.am page.

New Data Show Increasing Growth Among Women-Owned Firms, and Yet…

The first wave of information from the 2012 Survey of Business Owners has just been released from the U.S. Census Bureau, and the news is largely positive – for women-owned businesses at least.SBO_infographic1

While the final numbers will not be out until the end of the year, preliminary figures indicate that:

  • there are now 9.9 million women-owned firms,
  • employing nearly 9 million workers, and
  • generating $1.6 trillion in revenues.

These numbers reveal that women-owned firms now comprise 36% of all privately-held firms (a full accounting of U.S. firms, including large publicly-traded firms, won’t be published until December) – up from a 29% share in 2002.

Where’s this growth coming from? By and large, from women of color. Back in 2002, one in seven (14%) of women-owned firms was led by a woman of color; that share has risen to nearly four in 10 (38%) as of 2012. The growth in the number of women-owned firms over that decade – 53% overall – is strongly outpaced among African American (+179%), Latina (+173%), Native Hawaiian (+138%) and Asian American (+122%) women-owned firms, and also surpassed by Native American/Alaska Native (+68%) women-owned firms.

Looking at trends by industry sector finds the strongest growth in the number of women-owned firms to be in administrative support and waste management services (think office administrative services, landscaping and janitorial services, +101%), educational services (including private schools, computer and language instruction, +92%) and other services (including auto repair, pet sitting and beauty salons, +86%). At the other end of the spectrum, there’s been just an 11% increase in women-owned retail trade businesses.

When looking at the growth in women-owned firms compared to all privately-held firms, the news is quite positive overall: women are now starting businesses at a higher rate post-recession compared to the five years leading up to the recession, while start-ups have plummeted overall.

That said, however, while women now represent over one-third of all privately-owned firms, their share of employment and revenues among this population has declined between 2002 and 2012.

This represents the grey lining in an otherwise silver cloud – but the full picture won’t be revealed until more detailed tabulations by employment and revenue size of firm and more detailed geography are available late in the year.

 

(Click on the infographic at the right to view the interactive version on Womenable’s infogr.am page.)

What Do Women Entrepreneurs Need to Grow? A New Initiative Keeps Score

It’s one thing to encourage more women to start their own entrepreneurial ventures, but what are the elements that can ensure their future growth and success? And what countries are doing a good (and not so good) job of providing a “womenabling” environment for growth-oriented women entrepreneurs? These are the questions asked – and answered – in the new Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders Scorecard, a data-powered diagnostic tool developed by ACG Inc. with support from Dell.

The research team (of which Womenable is a member) considered the elements necessary for supporting growth-oriented, high-impact women entrepreneurs – AND what data are currently available on a regular basis – gathering and combining 21 data variables into an analytical framework comprised of five main elements:

  • Business environment;
  • Gendered access to resources;
  • Women’s leadership and legal rights;
  • A gendered entrepreneurial pipeline; and
  • Potential female entrepreneurial leaders.

DWEN_Global-Scorecard-ResultsThe resulting analysis, conducted among 31 economies that collectively account for 76% of global GDP, finds that the following countries provide the environment most conducive to supporting high-impact women’s entrepreneurship:

  1. United States
  2. Canada
  3. Australia
  4. Sweden
  5. United Kingdom

At the other end of the list are countries that are not so supportive:

  1. Bangladesh
  2. Pakistan
  3. India
  4. Egypt
  5. Tunisia

One important conclusion of the analysis is that even among highly-ranked countries there is much room for improvement, as the scores – calculated on a 0-100 scale – only reach 71 even in the top-ranked U.S.

And what can all of us do to help the cause? Several recommendations for action offered include:

  • Narrow the gender data gap by measuring progress of women entrepreneur-focused initiatives;
  • Prioritize female-owned businesses in public and private supply chains;
  • Promote and empower women in the workplace;
  • Raise the visibility of female role models in business; and
  • Build entrepreneurship skills for girls by investing in STEM education.

Learn more and download the GWEL Scorecard executive report and methodology at THIS WEB PAGE.

Business Support “On Equal Terms” in Sweden? Nära Skjuter Ingen Hare!

After eight excellent years of promoting women’s entrepreneurship in Sweden, the newly-elected government has closed programmatic support in this area (thus highlighting once again that elections do matter).
Swedish flag and people copy
In wrapping up their efforts, however, Tillväxtverket (the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth) has compiled some lessons learned reports. Here, for your enlightenment, are:

Many thanks to fellow womenabler Gunilla Thorstensson for sharing these reports with us. Unfortunately, business promotion “on equal terms” (meaning “one size fits all”) will likely not stand women entrepreneurs in Sweden in good stead going forward. As they say in Sweden, nära skjuter ingen hare!

Perhaps this will spark advocacy and action among women’s business groups there. From adversity can come increased strength and sisterhood.

Mixing Purpose With Passion: Women’s Enterprise in Scotland

Having recently returned from Scotland, I was struck by a new-found energy and optimism. Though the recent independence referendum was defeated, it brought out a renewed national spirit – which certainly carried over in the surge of support for the Scottish National Party in the recent U.K. elections.

wes-logo-colourThis energy surge is also manifest in support for women’s enterprise development in Scotland. Last year, Scotland launched a Framework and Action Plan for Women’s Enterprise, based on feedback from the women’s business community and other stakeholders and containing a series of policy and program recommendations.

What took me over to Scotland was a Think Tank gathering, #WESMovingOn, in which best practices from within and outside Scotland and the U.K. were considered and discussed. The day was kicked off with a thoughtful presentation by futurist Anne Lise Kjaer on a more inclusive view of ‘the good life’ and the drivers of change in the future, incorporating the four P’s of people, planet, purpose and profit.

Then we (“womenablers” from government, the private sector and the third sector, from the U.K., Europe and North America) all rolled up our sleeves and shared our views – from our countries and communities – of what’s working, what lessons we’ve learned, and what recommendations we’d make for Scotland moving forward. I was asked to reflect on some lessons learned from the U.S. perspective, based on the 27 years of progress (and pitfalls) since the “big bang” of women’s enterprise development in the U.S.: the passage of the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988. Here’s a brief summary of the ideas that I shared:

  1. Policy is only the starting point. For progress and sustainability attention must be paid on three key levels:
    • In the public sector level, to set such frameworks AND to establish programs based on policies;
    • On the customers/clients of women’s enterprise support: listen to them, then modify programs based on changing needs. This is something we do NOT do nearly enough of in the U.S.; and
    • On intermediary groups, such as implementing partners. This is the all too often forgotten link between policy and customer.
  2. Don’t “fence in” women business owners. By this I mean not isolate them, but don’t limit their growth by setting policy sights too low. U.S. federal support for women’s business centers is a prime example of this; they are hampered by restrictions on what clients they can serve with their federal grant money, which leaves many growth-oriented women business owners underserved;
  3. DATA, DATA, DATA: it’s critically important to measure. In the U.S. government, policy efforts are limited by restrictions on conducting research, so the Center for Women’s Business Research (now defunct) was critically important in 1990’s, as it monitored progress and showcased needs;
  4. Private sector partnerships: Enlightened corporations and financial institutions need women business owners as customers and as suppliers, so they are stakeholders, too.

We also heard from several of WES’ excellent women’s entrepreneurship ambassadors: women business owners who give back by speaking to women and girls about what it’s like to start and grow a business. One of them was Sylvia Douglas of MsMissMrs. You owe it to yourself to CLICK HERE to learn more about her enterprise … and her empowerment pants. (Here’s us posing with some during the Think Tank discussion.)empowermentpants

What’s next for women’s enterprise development in Scotland? I’d say that they will be a leader in the U.K., if not throughout Europe and beyond, for their inclusive, consultative approach, for thinking well outside the box and all along the size continuum, for being inclusive of diversity from the outset, and for bravely stepping out in front and leading the way. Keep an eye out for the report from this think tank event, and keep an eye on Women’s Enterprise Scotland … the Brave!

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