Forbes Coaches Council
As we roar further into the 2020s, I’ve been thinking about Women’s History Month and the momentum that’s been made by women empowered by business over the years, and it’s quite impressive.
If you are of a certain age, you can probably look back at when you started working your first job and start to realize how far the world has come in just a generation or two. Back in 1984 when I founded my company, The Entrepreneur’s Source, the concept of women entrepreneurs was mostly just that — more concept than reality. When you look at the numbers from the past 40-plus years, it is clear how far things have progressed. In 1972, women-owned businesses represented just 4.6% of all businesses, but today, that number has skyrocketed to 42%, according to a 2019 American Express report. With that in mind, I thought I’d offer some numbers that show where things currently are when it comes to women in the business world.
More than 11.6 million businesses are owned by American women. That’s according to the National Association of Women Business Owners. Those firms employ almost 9 million people and, as of 2017, generated $1.7 trillion in sales. Some sources say $1.9 trillion.
In 2019, 1,817 new women-owned businesses were created every day in America. While we don’t yet know how many women-owned businesses were formed during the pandemic, it seems likely that the numbers continued to increase. Some evidence suggests that far more startups were created than usual; applications for employer identification numbers, a sign that new people are starting companies, also increased.
Lending can still be difficult for female owners. In 2019, Bank of America released a Women Business Owner Spotlight study, which found that nearly 60% of the 500-plus female small business owners involved in the survey reported not having the same access to capital as men.
Women are increasingly turning to franchises as a way to start a business. It has become commonplace for women to be interested in buying a franchise. Women own or co-own about 265,000 franchises, which is about 35% of all U.S. franchises. That’s about a 24% rise from ten years ago.
In the franchising industry, I sometimes come across lists that rank the best franchises for women, but it may be restrictive to label franchises as good for a certain gender. For instance, recently, some local media covered two sisters and a female childhood best friend who live in Wisconsin and have four electronics repair shops. With a possibilities mindset, women are taking hold of the American dream and buying any franchise that appeals to them and fits their income, lifestyle, wealth and equity aspirations. This is just one of many familiar stories across the country.
The progress that has been made over the years by women empowered by business is quite impressive. Every entrepreneur will need to overcome obstacles from business colleagues, employees and lenders and still manage to build and grow a successful business. So it’s imperative to have an abundance mindset when starting any business and always look to what’s possible.
If you do get discouraged, think of the female entrepreneurs who have already made it, and try to learn from them. There are a lot of takeaways we can all borrow from the successful-women-in-business playbook:
Don’t listen to the naysayers. A lot of women over the years have been told that they aren’t likely to be successful in a male-dominated industry. That type of thinking is untrue and perpetuates negative stereotypes. Don’t let that toxic thinking infect your mindset.
Try strategies that have been successful for others. If business owners you respect have created a business, you may want to make those people your role model. If it’s feasible, ask them how they did it, and see if they’ll give you any advice. That is also an argument for working with career ownership coaches, reading business memoirs and self-help books, and talking to professionals at places like your local chamber of commerce.
None of us really become successful business owners on our own. We’re always seeking out help from others.
Remember that your success is going to inspire others. So much of succeeding in business involves not giving up. You may have to give yourself a lot of pep talks to succeed, especially if you are, for instance, a woman trying to make it in a largely male-dominated industry. But just as you’re looking for inspiration from women who have done well in business, remember that if you remain persistent in your goal, at some point, people will ask you how you became so successful.