March is Women’s History Month and a good time to reflect on how women are doing in business. Women now account for more than 10% of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. But many women also own and run their own companies. The numbers have been growing year after year. But how are they doing? This can be gleaned from reports as well as anecdotal stories from women entrepreneurs.
According to the 2022 Annual Report from National Women’s Business Council (NWBC), what follows are the most recent facts (although statistics don’t reflect the prior year).
- Of employer businesses, women owned 1.2 million firms or 20.9% of employer businesses.
- Non-employee firms were 10.9 million or 41% of all non-employer businesses.
- Women-owned employer firms grew at a faster rate than men-owned employer firms (16.7% versus 5.2%).
The statistics are helpful, but don’t explain why there are not more women-owned businesses. After all, women now represent a majority of the college-educated labor force in the U.S. You could explain the disparity between women-owned and men-owned companies in the U.S. by such factors as childcare and choice. But there are other challenges unique to women entrepreneurs.
Challenges to women-owned businesses
Women business owners face the same challenges at their male counterparts…finding good employees, raising capital, getting customers/clients, and managing regulatory compliance. But women business owners may face challenges that are unique to them. According to Business News Daily, the 7 biggest challenges to women-owned businesses today are:
- Making an authoritative first impression
- Achieving work-life balance
- Finding a support system
- Handling unsolicited advice
- Being lonely
- Battling unrealistic expectations
- Overcoming self-doubt
Resources for women-owned businesses
There are some helpful groups supporting and promoting women entrepreneurs:
- IFundwomen.com, a crowdfunding platform for women entrepreneurs to raise money, get coaching, and make connections; there are also grant opportunities listed
- MWBE Enterprises, Inc., a way to find consulting for obtaining minority and women owned business certification if you need help
- National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), an advocacy organization for women
- SBA, providing information about certification Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs)
- WomenandMinorityBusiness.org, a link to applicable crowdfunding platforms
The challenges to women-owned businesses today haven’t changed dramatically despite lots of noise about equal pay, nondiscrimination, help with childcare, and other popular agendas. In my opinion, there continues to be a subtle societal prejudice against women entrepreneurs which likely will only change as more women-owned businesses succeed. But why complain?
As Madame C.J. Walker an entrepreneur who was the first African American female millionaire from her homemade hair care line, said: “I had to make my own living and my own opportunity! But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”
Millions of other women entrepreneurs have succeeded and you can too.