The NFWBO (National Foundation for Women Business Owners) identifies trends relating to the small business climate for women. Several interesting conclusions were reached in a joint study with IBM of the top fifty women business owners, as well as 10 additional “up-and-coming” business owners.

The women in the study covered a diverse array of industry categories including manufacturing (27%), retail (25%) and real estate (10%). Over 50% of the women started their own businesses, 46% inherited a business, with 34% starting businesses themselves and another 17% starting businesses with others.

A Preference for Flexibility

One key part of the study centered on the fact that, in general; women business owners appear to prefer smaller operations. 75% of the 8 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. are one-person operations. This allows women to achieve a high level of flexibility in their work schedules. It is believed that this flexibility improves the odds of women keeping their home lives satisfying and rewarding.

Millions of women are ignoring the notion that small businesses do not equate with success. While NFWBO research indicates that less than 1% of small women owned businesses generate over a $1 million in sales, there is no doubt that women are showing their strength in numbers.

Tackling Loan Issues

A major obstacle women business owners have faced comes in the form of bank loan inequities. Recently, women owned business are experiencing access to business loans on par with male owners. This may be due in part to the increasing number of women in high bank positions as well as banks now seeing the previously untapped potential of women-owned businesses. The NFWBO has also discovered that women tend to direct loans towards business growth.

Internationally Owned Businesses

On an international scale, the NFWBO studies have shown that women business owners express the same concerns regarding business issues and often come from similar backgrounds. Today, female business owners represent between one-quarter and one-third of the world’s independent business owners and have become increasingly vocal as evidenced by female participation at an international conference in Paris sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Many obstacles have been overcome. The future looks very bright for women-owned businesses around the globe.

 

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AUTHOR: Kathy McLaughlin
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