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Woman-Owned Business Statistics

Nov 02, 2022 • 8 min read
women-owned business funding gap
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      For decades now, it’s been a game of catch-up for women in business—and they’ve gained a lot of ground. Since 2007, the number of women-owned firms has grown five times faster than the national average, according to the 2016 State of Women-Owned Business Report. In fact, women are now three times as likely to start their own businesses as men, and that number is on the rise. But the struggle is far from over. The statistics on women-owned businesses below highlight just how far women have come and the disparities we’ve yet to overcome.

      Stats On The Growth Of Women In Small Business

      • The number of women-owned businesses has increased 45 percent since 2007, compared to a 9-percent increase among all businesses.
      • Women are now majority owners in at least 38 percent of U.S. small businesses.
      • There are 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S.
      • Women in small business generate more than $1.6 trillion in revenue annually.
      • Women-owned businesses employ nearly 9 million people in the U.S.
      • Employment in women-owned businesses has increased 18 percent post-recession (employment has declined 1% among all small businesses).
      • Revenue growth among women-owned firms has increased by 35 percent since 2007 (30 percent higher than the national average).
      • The shift toward entrepreneurism is yielding positive results: female business owners report being 3 times happier than women who are not.
      • A 2019 report from the JPMorgan Chase Institute found that businesses owned by women and businesses owned by men had equal survivability rates based on an analysis of 138,000 companies founded within the decade prior.  

      Stats On Disparities In Male- And Female-Owned Small Businesses

      • On average, female business owners ask for less funding, about $35,000 less than their male counterparts.
      • Women business owners make multiple attempts to secure bank loans or lines of credit, and 40 percent of women business owners applying for a loan never succeed in obtaining funding.
      • Loans to women make up about 4 percent of all commercial loan dollars.
      • Women-owned businesses have a 21-percent lower chance of getting a federal contract than their male counterparts.
      • In 2015, the government met its goal of awarding at least 5 percent ($17.8 billion) of its contracts to women-owned businesses—an endeavor that’s been over 20 years in the making—though it’s a small portion of the $90.7 billion in government contracts that went to small businesses.
      • Women represented just 6.4% of the CEOs on the most recent Fortune 500 list – and that was the highest female-male ratio in the list’s 63-year history.
      • The National Association of Women Business Owners reports that: “Of the 59% of NAWBO members that did not seek a new loan or line of credit in 2009, 24% did not do so because they believed they would be turned down.” And that “…in fast-growth firms, only 39% of women owners had bank loans compared to 52% of men owners.”
      • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only about 20% of businesses that employed people are owned by women, although the number is on the rise—up a whopping 0.6% between 2017 and 2018, the most recent year available. 
      Top 10 State’s For Women’s Access To Capital

      Income And Growth Disparities

      Female-owned businesses generally have lower revenues, grow slower, and receive less external financing but are still able to keep the lights on just as well as companies owned by men.

      Perhaps some of the data about the revenue issues faced by female-owned businesses is skewed by the types of industries dominated by female-led firms. Women make up 90% or more of the companies in industries like child day care services, domestic services, and beauty salons, according to data from the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC). While these businesses can definitely be long-lasting and profitable, the profit margins can be very thin depending on the area. NWBC says that 44% of women entrepreneurs operate in low-growth industries.

      Even still, American women-owned businesses employ over 9 million people and generate $1.9 trillion in annual revenue, according to the SBA. These businesses are essential to the economy. And while the daycare industry might not be a headline-grabbing field with major profits, any working parent will tell you how essential that industry is to their day-to-day lives.

      Childcare, home healthcare, retail – these types of businesses are necessary for the American economy to function and for the American lifestyle to continue. It should be noted that women entrepreneurs are moving into many different industries, though. Behind healthcare and social assistance, the largest sector for female-owned businesses is professional, scientific, and technical services, the NWBC explains.

      Women-owned business by industry from

      Impact Of The Pandemic

      A report by the US Chamber of Commerce reveals how the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women who own small businesses. 

      Business Health and Staffing Plans

      Before the pandemic, 67% of men and 60% of women ranked the health of their businesses as “good.” However, by July 2020, this stat only dropped 5 points among men (62% still rated their businesses as healthy), whereas there was a 15-point drop among responses from women (47% still rated their businesses as healthy).

      In fact, businesses owned by men were also more likely than women to report that they actually increased staff during the pandemic. The number grew from 17% in the first quarter of 2020 to 25% in July. On the other hand, from the 18% of women-owned businesses that reported an increase in staffing in the first quarter of 2020, only 15% had increased staff by July

      Regarding their plans to increase staffing, 36% of businesses owned by men said they plan to increase staff size in the coming year, compared to 24% of women. Compared to the first quarter of 2020, this represents a 5% increase among men and a 7% decrease among women.

      Investment Plans and Revenue

      The report also reveals stark differences in investments and revenue expectations. From the first quarter of 2020 through July, 32% of women-owned businesses had future investment plans, which represents no change from before and during the pandemic. However, 28% of men planned on increasing investments in the first quarter of 2020, but by July, this number jumped 11 points to 39%.

      The Best Way for a Woman-Owned Business to Secure Financing? Apply!

      Still, the stats shouldn’t discourage women business owners from applying for loans or other financing. The American business landscape has made progress for women entrepreneurs. Before federal legislation was passed in 1988 (if you’re counting, that’s just 33 years ago), women business owners needed a male co-signer to apply for a loan. While lenders need to understand that women-owned businesses are as safe an investment as male-owned businesses, female entrepreneurs should also take the steps to apply for capital, particularly when that capital can be used to help grow the business. 

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