The second annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express OPEN, and prepared for them by Womenable, a research, program and policy development consultancy, estimates women-owned businesses in the US, which constitute 29 percent of all businesses generate US $ 1.3 trillion, and employs nearly 7.7 million people, which is a 9% increase over the past 15 years. To put it in perspective, women-owned business in the US employ 40% more people than the biggest employers – McDonalds, Walmart and IBM combined. The analysis which was prepared in close co-ordination with inputs from the Economic Census Branch of the Company Statistics Division of the U.S. Census Bureau, charts the period of Women Entrepreneurship in the US from 1997 to 2012, giving a “new and nuanced investigation into the growth trends among women-owned enterprises over the past 15 years.”
The insights through up some interesting findings like :
- Women owned businesses have pegged a consistent rate of growth that is higher than the National Average, since the past 15 years !
- Women owned businesses are exceeding overall sector growth in seven of the 13 most populous industries.
- Women-owned firms are holding their own, meeting or exceeding average revenue and employment growth, when compared to all privately held firms—falling short only when their growth is compared to the very largest publicly traded firms.
There are other trends too that are far more encouraging. The consistent, underlying theme amongst all, be it national, geographic or across industry trends, is the fact that it is Growth, however incremental it might be. It is upwards, and that is a very heartening, encouraging state of affairs when it comes to Women entrepreneurship in the US. The industries with the highest concentration of women-owned firms are: health care and social assistance (53% of firms in this sector are women-owned) and the lowest is Construction where just 8% of firms are women owned – regardless, women-owned enterprises are staking claims across all domains in the US economy according to the report. California is home to the greatest number of women-owned firms in the country, followed by New York, Texas, Florida, and Illinois.
The challenges too are evident. Though women-owned firms constitute 29 percent of all US businesses, only employ 6% of the country’s workforce and contribute just under 4% of total U.S. business revenues — roughly the same share they contributed in 1997. One of the key ‘pressure-points’ seem to be what the analysis describes as the Heartbreak Hill – the 100-employee threshold and the million-dollar revenue mark, once reached, the mostly single-owned or the small core group is forced to gradually transition in spirit, structure and the likelihood of taking on other equity partners—be they individuals in senior management positions with an ownership stake may even change the women-owned business tag as well. Interestingly women-owned firms matched or exceeded growth rates up until the 100-employee threshold or the million-dollar revenue mark.
Regardless, as President Obama’s White House Council on Women and Girls 2012 reports states, ” The success of American women is critical for the success of American families and the American economy. And in order for our nation to keep moving forward, women must be able to help provide for their families and contribute fully to our economy.”