Woman-owned businesses are fast becoming their own industry sector. 2010 Census figures rollout, reports from Forbes, National Association of Woman Business Owners (NAWBO), the Small Business Administration’s Office of Woman Owned Business, and others are emphatic about their expectations.
Allow me to summarize the statistics. Currently, woman-owned businesses account for less than 18% of the U.S. employment force. By 2018, women owned businesses will be the source of one-third of the 15+ million jobs the Department of Labor expects to book. The very same numbers tell us that the new workplace will be more diversified, inclusive, and horizontally structured.
Why the increase in numbers? For one thing, more college-educated women are making the move towards business ownership. For another, women have traditionally dominated the industry sectors that expect growth – healthcare, service industries, and the like. And finally, woman-owned businesses are less likely to depend on restrictive bank financing.
How are female business owners different?
Workplace. While it may be stereotypically dismissive to label women as nurturing, evidence shows that women build business by creating a positive working environment for workers and customers. They seek to:
- Value life/work balance and share it with others.
- Take pleasure to creating opportunities.
- Provide better pay and benefits to employees.
- Help employees feel better about themselves.
Customers. Additionally, because they often have more to risk financially and emotionally than their male counterparts, women owners tend to:
- Focus on customers more directly and personally.
- Keep and cultivate appreciative customers.
- More strongly differentiate their business from the competitor.
- Stay ahead of what their rivals are doing.
Networking. For women, networking is a more shared experience and less exploitive. They are more likely to co-exist creatively than to divide and conquer. Consequently, they are more likely to:
- Seek and take advice from others, including their consultants and advisor team.
- Listen to their employees on a whole range of issues from process to customer satisfaction.
Planning. Women business owners, behaviorally speaking, are apt to have a broader and longer-term vision. They write thorough business plans and work hard to stick to the plan. They think about retirement more and toys and trophies less.
Support. Such women are also quick to seek assistance from an increasingly large number of agencies, groups, and sites that study and respond to their increasingly articulate needs. The SBA Women’s Advocacy, National Association of Women Business Owners, and Count-Me-In are just a few of the hugely supportive info centers.
By Steven Schlagel