Looking for an alternative to the corporate office? A growing number of women are leaving and starting their own businesses and making their own schedules and policies rather than trying to fit someone else’s expectations. Women are starting over 1,200 businesses per day, almost twice the rate of any other group.
And they are having an economic impact. There are now more than 9.1 million women owned businesses in the U.S. and that number is growing. Women-owned businesses:
- Employ 7.9 million people
- Generate $1.4 trillion in revenues
- Make up 30 percent of all enterprises
And it’s projected that women-owned businesses will create another 5 million new jobs in the next three years.
Why women are starting businesses
We know that many of us are struggling to build the career success we want in traditional business settings. Many of us leave jobs because we can’t find the flexibility and work-life balance that we need in a career. The path to leadership can be long and demanding. Building your own business offers a different path to success. One that allows you to make your own priorities, choices and schedule.
Technology has made it easier to start a business. Laptops, smartphones and the cloud have decreased the cost of starting a business. It has also made it much easier to be flexible, running your business from home or taking it with you anywhere.
Social media and internet marketing have made it cheaper and easier to promote a business. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are economical ways to reach customers and it increases your reach beyond a physical location.
Women are attending and graduating from college in greater numbers than men, giving us the education we need to be successful in business. By running our own businesses, we are gaining valuable experience and building skills in negotiating, marketing and finance.
While there are multiple factors that have spurred the growth of women starting businesses, it isn’t all smooth sailing.
The struggles of women-owned businesses
Women are starting businesses at almost twice the rate of men, but these businesses tend to be smaller than average. The typical privately held business employs two people in addition to the owner, while women-owned businesses average one. Revenues for our businesses are also smaller than average.
We have a harder time raising the capital to grow a business. We often choose different industries than men, often in retail. Retail businesses tend to have higher costs, lower margins and higher rates of failure, making banks less likely to lend money. Other industries with a large percentage of women-owned businesses are
- Health care and social assistance
- Educational services
- Administration and support
- Arts, entertainment and recreation
In order to overcome this funding issue, women may need to look beyond traditional financing options. Ashoka is an example of an organization that invests in social entrepreneurs whoare creating positive social change.
The good news is that women-owned businesses are growing and thriving. Some to keep an eye out for are:
- Happy Family
- Strategic Communications
- Brightstar Franchising
- Cenergy International Services LLC
Women are creating their own paths to the career success they need. Whether women are starting small businesses or million-dollar corporations, we are making our own definition of career success.