Surprising Facts About Woman-Owned Businesses

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I recently spotted some fascinating statistics about woman-owned businesses, published by the Center for Women’s Business Research.

This CWDC’s mission is to identify the trends, characteristics, achievements, and challenges of U.S. woman-owned businesses. According to their recent research, majority-owned female enterprises:

  • Number 10.4 million in the U.S.
  • Employ more than 12.8 million people.
  • Generate $1.9 trillion in annual sales.
  • Have grown at around two times the rate of all firms (42% vs. 24%) over the past 20 years!
  • Are more likely to have hands-on owners, especially relative to technology decisions.
  • Use technology to more integrate between home and work.
  • Focus on relationship-building and seek consensus in areas ranging from banking to succession planning.
  • Are more likely to take risk, seek outside expertise, and to join business organizations than their male counterparts.

Personally, I identify very closely with these study results. As a female business owner for the past 17 years, I’ve traveled the road from my basement to managing a fast-growing company with a national client base. Our work force is over 80% female, and relationship-building has been so important to our growth. For our employees, we began by offering women flexible work schedules and today we continue to retain women because of this. My personal pet-project is technology. I’m always seeking new ways to improve our ability to work remotely, to streamline our work flow, or to replace a sea of paper with interactive systems.

I’ve never really thought of it as a “more-female” trait, but from this research I see in myself and in my female peers that our nurturing instincts probably play a bigger role in business than we realize. My experience and these study results suggest women business owners are using their instincts to collaborate, care, and multi-task as a competitive advantage. Collectively, our instincts and willingness to take risks are paying off in positive results for women business owners.

The Center for Women’s Business Research has a great listing of advocacy, networking, and resource organizations for women. Their site also offers research and reference materials to assist a wide spectrum of woman and minority business owners, including excellent resources for accelerating growth for women of color in business. Several additional detailed study results, including pieces on exit strategies for women and women’s use of financial services, are available for purchase online.

Many thanks to Nancy Loderick for her thoughtful input on this blog entry.

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