To what do women business owners owe their success—and what remains to be done to help the next generation of women entrepreneurs?
Bank of America recently released its 2019 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight, its fourth annual study exploring women entrepreneurs’ goals and challenges. Here’s a closer look at the findings.
Women Business Owners Are Optimistic
Women in the survey are optimistic about their businesses’ futures, with ambitious growth plans. In fact, they are more likely than men to plan to hire, expand or apply for a loan in the next 12 months. (The survey polled both men and women entrepreneurs with $100,000-$4,999,999 in annual revenues and two-99 employees.)
Some 84% of the women surveyed expect their revenues to grow year-over-year. What’s more, 52% expect their local economies to improve, and 47% expect the national economy to improve.
Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Concerns
However, women business owners also have significant concerns about the future. Over the next 12 months, their biggest concerns are:
Digging deeper into how women feel about access to capital, the report uncovered some unsettling news.
- Although most women entrepreneurs believe access to capital has improved over the past 10 years, 58% say they don’t have the same access to capital as their male counterparts.
- Only 34% of women surveyed believe women business owners will ever gain equal access to capital. On average, they believe it won’t happen until 2033.
- And 24% of the women surveyed don’t think women will ever have equal access to capital.
Part of the problem: 54% of men entrepreneurs surveyed think women business owners already have equal access to capital. Business financing options such as venture capital, angel investment and bank loans are still predominantly overseen by men. If men don’t see a problem, it’s hard for the situation to change.
What Would Help Women Business Owners Most?
The survey posed several societal changes that could possibly occur in the next five years, and asked women which one would have the biggest effect on leveling the playing field for the next generation of women entrepreneurs. Here’s what they said:
- Having more women in powerful positions of influence 35%
- Pay equity 22%
- Creating stronger networks of women 12%
- Redefining gender norms 10%
- Achieving equal access to capital 8%
Fortunately, there are things we can all do to help these changes come about.
- Seek opportunities to promote women into leadership roles in your business. Mentor female employees or match women employees with mentors in your business to cultivate their skills.
- Commit to pay equity in your business. Learn more about pay equity and do a self-audit of your business.
- Grow your network of women. Join organizations for women business owners such as NAWBOeWomenNetwork or the American Business Women’s Association. Look for a local networking group for women or start your own.
- Get involved in organizations that mentor girls and young women. (More than half of women in Bank of America’s survey say having a mentor was key to their entrepreneurial success.) Mentor girls in STEM careers, help girls “be bold” through Girls Inc., or be part of the Enterprising Women Foundation’s mentoring initiative.
- Be a role model for girls and young women in your life. It doesn’t have to be all about business: The top factors women in the survey say contributed to their entrepreneurial success include getting a college degree (62%), participating in the arts (35%), playing competitive sports (30%) and serving on student council (26%).
- Put your money where your mouth is by investing in women business owners worldwide through Kiva or Women for Women.
Women entrepreneurs can take heart in knowing we have the power to effect change. By helping other women, you can create a better world for all women entrepreneurs.
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