The phenomenal growth of women-owned businesses has made headlines for three decades–women consistently have been launching new enterprises at twice the rate of men, and their growth rates of employment and revenue have outpaced the economy.
So, it is dismaying to see that, despite all this progress, on average, women-owned business are still small compared with businesses owned by men. And while the gap has narrowed, as of 2008–the latest year for which numbers are available–the average revenues of majority women-owned businesses were still only 27% of the average of majority men-owned businesses.
There are those who will say that these numbers substantiate what they always knew: Women just don’t have what it takes to start and run a substantial, growing business. But I don’t buy that: More than a quarter of a million women in the U.S. own and lead businesses with annual revenue topping $1 million–and many of these businesses are multimillion-dollar enterprises. Clearly, many women have the vision, capacity and perseverance to build thriving companies.
So what’s holding back so many women business owners?
IT STARTS WITH THE GOALS: The value of setting high goals for growth is not just a motivational myth. Research shows that the only statistically significant predictor of business growth is not the industry, size of business or length of time in business. It is the entrepreneur’s goal for growth.
ACCESS TO CAPITAL: Women often come to entrepreneurship with fewer resources available to them than men. The result is that they are more likely to go into industries such as retail or personal services where the cost of entry is low–but so is the growth potential.
Photo by Evil Erin