More women reaching for chance to be the boss

The Associated PressMay 16, 2014 

FILE - In this Monday, April 15, 2013, file photo, Consuelo Gomez, of the facilities management company "Marty K," works in her office in Bellevue, Wash. Between 1997 and 2014, the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. rose by 68 percent, compared to a 47 percent increase for all companies, according to an American Express analysis of Census Bureau figures.

FILE PHOTOGRAPH — The Associated Press

— If you go to work for a newer business, there’s a good chance you’ll be working for a woman.

Women are starting companies at a torrid pace. Between 1997 and 2014, the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. rose by 68 percent, compared to a 47 percent increase for all companies, according to an American Express analysis of Census Bureau figures. They are starting an estimated 1,288 companies each day, up from 602 in 2011-12, American Express says.

“Women are becoming more aware of the opportunities for entrepreneurship in their lives. It’s becoming more of an option for a career move than it ever has been in the past,” says Susan Duffy, executive director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson College.

Expect the numbers of women business owners to keep rising as interest in entrepreneurship grows and younger women look to famous women as their role models, Duffy says.

For example: Oprah Winfrey, designers Tory Burch and Diane Von Furstenberg and Weili Dai, co-founder of chip maker Marvell Technology. The current head of the Small Business Administration, Maria Contreras-Sweet, and her predecessor, Karen Mills, have both been business owners.

“More women are seeing themselves out there in their heroes in the business world. They’re saying, this is fabulous, I want to be like her,” Duffy says.

The growing number of resources for women business owners, including the SBA-sponsored Women’s Business Centers and women’s business organizations are also encouraging women to start companies, she says.

Women owners tend to be more optimistic than their male counterparts, according to a survey released this week by Bank of America.

Seventy percent of the women owners surveyed expect their revenue to rise over the next year, compared to 66 percent of men. Fifty-six percent of women plan to hire in the next year, compared to 50 percent of men. And 68 percent of women plan to expand their companies; 63 percent of men have such plans.

The survey also touched on challenges women face. Twenty-nine percent said they feel they have less access to money than men, and 32 percent said they have less access to new business opportunities.

A woman entrepreneur is most likely to start a company that provides educational services, administrative or waste management services or is involved in the arts, entertainment or recreation, the AmEx survey said. And nearly 1 in 3 female-owned companies is owned by a minority. The number of businesses owned by minority women has climbed to 2.9 million this year from just under 930,000 in 1997.

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