Are female entrepreneurs the next wave of business success?

Written on Apr 04, 2018

U.S entrepreneurship is at a 40-year low. But research suggests there are some signs of growth, and the latest studies have highlighted that female entrepreneurship will provide one of the best routes to future business success.

Historically, there has been a huge gender disparity between the number of startups, particularly in the tech industry. Look at lists that include Zuckerberg, Bezos, Musk, Gates, Jobs, Branson, Dell, Gates and Cuban. In contrast, a list of today's top 25 entrepreneurs compiled by Ranker features only two women: Oprah Winfrey and Vera Wang.

Statistics from the University of New Hampshire 'Centre For Venture' annual reports show that prior to 2014, the number of women seeking angel investment was fairly static at around 15% of the total. There was a spike in 2014 with that figure rising to around 19% and the current estimate is that female-owned ventures accounted for circa 23% of the entrepreneurs that were seeking angel capital.

That's significant improvement, but women are still massively under represented. Why have there been so few female entrepreneurs over the years? There are three key reasons:

  • Jobs for the boys. Entrepreneurship has always been male-dominated. Ninety-four percent of the decision makers at venture capital firms are men.
  • Support seeking. According to an Inc.com article, 48% of female founders reported a lack of suitable mentors and advisors for their business because they cannot find male mentorship that can provide the right kind of counsel for them or their business venture.
  • Work-life balance. Typically, entrepreneurs don't start their ventures until they reach their 30s, which often coincides with starting a family or having young children. The notion of the Mompreneur is well-established now, but comes with its own challenges.

Now for the good news: according to statistics from the National Association of Women Business Owners, there are now 9.4 million firms owned by women in the U.S, employing 7.1 million people and generating almost $1.5 billion in sales.

So, how can women work to overcome the barriers and become a successful entrepreneur? Carla Harris, the chair of the National Women's Business Council (NWBC), offers this advice:

"Women entrepreneurs should leverage the resources already in place, as there are a plethora of supports across the country specific to women business owners. In a thriving ecosystem, there are in-person and virtual incubators and accelerators, SBA resource partners such as SCORE, Women Business Centers and Small Business Development Centers, as well as online educational resources that provide powerful knowledge throughout the business lifecycle"

Harris also advocates leveraging your personal network to find suitable mentorship and consider alternative strategies for raising capital such as crowdfunding, micro-loans or angel investors who specifically focus on female entrepreneurs.

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