In the last 20 years, where women work, how women work, and what kinds of jobs women are seeking have changed. As more and more corporations have re-organized and downsized, as more children of Baby Boomer mothers are leaving home, and as more traditionally employed women are waking up to the fact that they want more out of life than just simply getting a paycheck, the world of small business ownership is exploding.
As a whole, the United States is becoming more entrepreneurial. More than 1/3 of all people involved in entrepreneurial activity are women. According to an April 2005 report by the U. S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy and Business Times, there are an estimated 10 million privately held businesses in the United States that are owned by women.
More people own small businesses in the United States than ever before. According to the U. S. Small Business Administration’s report dated June, 2006, it is estimated that there are 25.8 million small businesses (including self-employed and sole proprietors) in the United States. According to the same report, over the last decade small businesses have generated 60 to 80 percent of new jobs, and they employ 50.6 percent of the country’s private sector workforce.
In addition to starting new businesses, there are also an increasing number of entrepreneurial Americans who are buying existing small businesses, instead of starting their own. According to a report by Wachovia, small business acquisitions are growing in popularity. On any given day in the United States, 1.7 million businesses are for sale.
Why Women are Starting Businesses
Women are starting businesses for two main reasons: lifestyle and money. Many run their businesses from home so they can be there for their children, instead of being dependent on daycare and other non-family support care.
Other mid-Baby Boomer women (those in their 40s) have achieved a level of success in the traditional workplace and are striking out on their own, eager to call their own shots and take charge of their financial futures.
Older Baby Boomer women are retiring early to start new businesses. According to AARP, entrepreneurship is growing in those 50 years and older. In addition, they predict that people who take early retirement or whose jobs just disappear will drive solo business formation in the future.
Two Greatest Challenges to Women
The greatest challenges for women starting up businesses are access to capital and general lack of know-how. However, these challenges are not stopping women from starting up. Today, women have the same access to money as men do. In fact, many start-up fund sources are specifically targeting women through grants and new venture capital. Women can be as creative in their approach to money as they want to be, making use of incubators, partnerships, or more traditional methods of funding such as home equity lines of credit, angel funding, or commercial loans.
Women are also realizing that, just because they don’t have a business degree, it doesn’t mean they won’t be successful at running a business. Accounting needs can be outsourced. Teleseminars can be taken. Books can be read. Questions can be asked. Experience can be gained. Women know that they don’t have to do it all by themselves!
In addition, women are finding that their life and work experiences count for something when starting up a business. They recognize the treasure-trove of applicable, relevant experience that they have amassed over the years and are tapping into these storehouses for their start-ups. Moreover, they know that whatever they don’t have right now, they can learn as they go.
If you are a woman considering small business ownership, this is a perfect time for you. Don’t let lack of money or expertise stand in your way. Have confidence in your valuable life experience, and draw from it when starting your business. Then get creative about funding. Never before have banks and other creative lending sources been more supportive of women-owned small business start-ups.