Women who own businesses report their personal well-being as nearly three times higher than women who don’t own a business. What could explain that? After all, owning a business is tough work. It can be stressful and scary. So why are these female business owners so much more content in life? Well, taken as a whole, they’re happy with how their businesses are going. Around 78% say they have good work-life balance, and they’re optimistic about their business prospects in the future.
And all these good feelings are translating into strong results. For example, women now own 36% of all businesses in the America. And those businesses are firing on all cylinders, contributing about $3 trillion to the national economy and generating more than $1.7 trillion in revenues each year.
“In the past 20 years, the growth rate for women-owned businesses has dwarfed the national average—increasing by a staggering 141% compared to 44% for all businesses,” reports Forbes.com. “Determining how these companies perform compared to those run by men is a nuanced undertaking, but recent research suggests women entrepreneurs are just as successful as their male counterparts.”
The Economy Won’t Be Much of a Barrier to Business
According to research from the National Retail Federation, retail sales have been exceeding projections. In fact, sales this holiday season are expected to grow more than 4.3% over last year. If you’re curious of the total dollar amount, it’ll be around $717 billion.
This record-setting sales season provides solid momentum into the new year. The Congressional Budget Office actually expects things to slow a bit in 2019, as consumer spending cools. But it’s still on a solid pace compared to past years.
“In 2019, the pace of GDP growth slows to 2.4 percent in the agency’s forecast, as growth in business investment and government purchases slows,” said Congressional Budget Office director Keith Hall said in a statement.
Gender-Related Obstacles Remain
Although there is much optimism as female entrepreneurs look to 2019 and beyond, the unfortunate truth is that they still face obstacles in the business world. While the issues are diverse and nuanced, they can be summed up in one sobering stat: of the $85 billion invested by venture capitalists in 2017, startups led by women only scored about 2% of the funds.
To get a better understanding of gender-based bias, the Harvard Business Review analyzed 125 applications and 36 hours of venture capital decision-making. What they found was that men were usually asked success-based questions related to “potential of growth” and “future possibilities.”
Women, on the other hand, were asked questions about financial caution and the risks of business. With the negative focus of the questioning, it’s no wonder that the women had such a lower chance of securing funding.
The Harvard researchers believed this disparity was due to unconscious bias based on the fact that the traditional profile for a successful entrepreneur is a man. Their theory was reinforced by another Harvard study, where men and women gave an identical entrepreneurial pitch, and the men still received higher marks than the women.
Despite the uneven playing field, research from the nonprofit mentorship organization SCORE found that women report the same levels of entrepreneurial success as men. Plus, they anticipate similar revenue growth and business longevity.
“Women entrepreneurs are succeeding despite many obstacles and odds that are stacked against them,” says Betsy Dougert, director of communications for SCORE.
Women Will Band Together to Succeed
While the path to success may be littered with outdated prejudice and other obstacles, women have always been more of a force when they work together. Underscoring the power of networking, one survey from Conferences for Women revealed that those who attend networking events doubled their chances of getting a promotion, while 78% percent reported feeling more optimistic about their business’s future.
“Even though women are generally strong collaborators and communicators, we tend to have fewer business-related connections than men do,” writes Shama Hyder for Inc.com. “If we’re going to achieve equality in the workplace, we’ve got to […] learn to ask for the things we want. We need to put some time into building these work relationships, just like we do all the other relationships in our lives.”
As more and more women are getting wise to the power of networking, the opportunities have grown exponentially. And big names are getting involved. Facebook launched their Community Finder tool to help female entrepreneurs connect, share resources, and grow their businesses. And Apple has announced their new Entrepreneur Camps, which will provide technology training and one-on-one mentoring.
Yes, the future of female entrepreneurship is bright. There are more resources and networking opportunities than prior generations of women could’ve ever dreamed of. So even as consumer spending slows somewhat, conditions are still prime for 2019 to be an excellent year for women in small business