The Cox Business Snapshot of Women Entrepreneur Survey was fielded among 624 U.S. women business owners and was conducted in October to coincide with National Women’s Small Business Month. According to the Small Business Administration, women-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing segments of the small business community, accounting for 30 percent of small businesses today. In 1970, only 5 percent of small businesses were women-owned. Cox Business set out to identify what opportunities and challenges are driving these women leaders.
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Optimism and Concern
Nearly three fourths of U.S.-based women entrepreneurs are optimistic about their business, despite more than half (56 percent) believing a recession is likely if Congress fails to raise the nation’s debt ceiling before the U.S. Treasury runs out of cash. According to the Cox Business Snapshot of Women Entrepreneurs™ survey, 79 percent of women owned businesses have not been impacted by the current government shutdown.
What’s Driving these Women?
The Cox Business survey reveals a variety of factors are driving women to enter the entrepreneurial ranks, ranging from the opportunity to be their own boss (61 percent) to having more control of their “own destinies” (52 percent). At the same time, other women business owners chose entrepreneurship as a way to pursue their passion (47 percent); 32 percent to make more than they could by working for someone else and 28 percent to spend more time with family/children.
Jill Campbell, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Cox Communications said, “This survey reveals that women are enthusiastically taking control of their professional destinies and taking the entrepreneurial road to self-sufficiency, personal satisfaction and financial success.”
Challenges Remain for Women Entrepreneurs
While the number of women-owned businesses is climbing steadily, 85 percent of survey respondents believe there are still business challenges unique to women entrepreneurs. Of that group, 73 percent believe gender bias still exists; followed by 71 percent of respondents who believe entrepreneurship increases their workloads due to family responsibilities. More than half (55 percent) responded there are industries that still lack opportunities for women.
When looking at the issues that had a large or moderate impact on their road to entrepreneurship, women business owners stated:
- 55 percent work/life balance,
- 48 percent knowledge on how to run a small business
- 41 percent leadership experience,
- 36 percent access to funding,
- 37 percent mentors to show them the ropes.
Facing additional challenges in the entrepreneurial environment, many women business owners turn to professional networks to help them achieve business success. Of the respondents, an overwhelming majority (89 percent) say their networks play an important or critical role in supporting their success. Another two-thirds feel that women make an effort to support other women in their entrepreneurial efforts.
“These women entrepreneurs are on the right path, said Porter Gale, author of Your Network is your Net Worth. “Your ability to build a network of authentic personal and professional relationships, far outweighs your financial capital. In fact, it is the most important asset in your portfolio. Collaborating with people with similar interests and values provides a strong foundation and enables anyone to reach a higher level of success than they could on their own.”
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About the 2013 Cox Business Snapshot of Women Entrepreneurs
Cox Business commissioned a blind survey of women entrepreneurs in October 2013. Respondents to the online survey included a total of 624 U.S.-based women business owners. Of that group 38 percent reported being in business for more than 10 years. Industries represented included consulting, retail, healthcare, food industry, technology, real estate, hospitality, manufacturing, accounting and more.