Four out of every 10 businesses (40%) in the United States are now women-owned. These businesses employ 8% of the total private sector workforce and contribute 4.3% of total revenues. Now more than ever, women entrepreneurs are a huge driver of the country’s economy. Yet, they continue to face unique obstacles that prevent them from reaching their highest potential.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve compiled a series of reports on women’s entrepreneurship and the challenges they face:
Build Her Up. Thumbtack, February 2019. Over the past few decades, there has been important progress in creating workplace gender parity. However, research continues to show that a “glass ceiling” has persisted for countless women in corporate America, affecting their income, their ability to achieve career advancement, and their susceptibility to workplace gender discrimination.
Millennial Women Entrepreneurs: Opportunities and Challenges. National Women’s Business Council, November 2018. Millennial women, those born between 1982 and 2000, represent the future of entrepreneurship in America. According to the 2015 Census Bureau data, there are 83.1 million millennials in the United States. By the year 2025, millennials will comprise 75 percent of the American workforce, and many will become entrepreneurs.
The 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. American Express, August 2018. Entrepreneurs solve problems, transform the way we do things, create jobs, spur economic growth and drive prosperity. Yet there is a significant gap between the number of women who start businesses and those who commit to growing them. Women are increasingly harnessing their entrepreneurial spirit and it is critical to encourage and support this behavior, eliminate obstacles, and facilitate the growth of their businesses. Unlocking the potential of women-owned businesses represents a powerful opportunity for economic growth.
Women Freelancers on Upwork & Fiverr Make 50% Less Than Men. Website Planet, August 2018. The pay gap is a well-discussed topic in Washington D.C., with women on average making 77 cents on the same dollar earned by men. Unfortunately, it seems as though this gender bias may be even more extreme when it takes place in the digital freelancing workplaces.
Understanding the Landscape: Access to Markets for Women Entrepreneurs. Library of Congress for National Women’s Business Council, May 2018. The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) is the federal government’s only independent voice for women entrepreneurs. Its mission is to support groundbreaking research that provides insight into women’s business enterprises from startup to success and to use and share these findings to advise constructive action and policies at the federal level. The NWBC contracted with the Federal Research Division (FRD) of the Library of Congress for research and analytical support to help establish a firm foundation of knowledge concerning the major issues influencing women’s entrepreneurship and business ownership.
Crowdfunding as a Capital Source for Women Entrepreneurs: Case Study of Kiva, a Non-profit Lending Crowdfunding Platform. National Women’s Business Council, March 2018. Crowdfunding is emerging as a scalable source of capital and a viable alternative to traditional sources of finance. It can help small businesses grow by providing them with capital that might otherwise not be available. In particular, crowdfunding can help women entrepreneurs with their needed capital as studies often report that women comparatively face more challenges in meeting their capital needs in traditional capital markets. Therefore, it is crucial for female entrepreneurs to be informed about these new sources of capital, understand the dynamics of borrowing, as well as the role of lenders in different types of crowdfunding. More importantly, this report will provide insights into the prevalent characteristics of successful crowdfunding campaigns.
Crowdfunding as a Capital Source for Women Entrepreneurs: Case Study of Kickstarter, a Reward-Based Crowdfunding Platform. National Women’s Business Council, March 2018. Crowdfunding is a novel method for entrepreneurs to fund for-profit, cultural, or even community projects. Projects can vary widely both in terms of goal amounts and scopes. Despite fast growth, the crowdfunding market is still in a nascent stage of development, where future policies and regulations will be shaped by the behavior and experiences of investors (backers) and entrepreneurs (project creators). Existing research notes that crowdfunding can increase gender equality in capital markets by opening access to a broader variety of investors and allowing female entrepreneurs to participate in such markets more fully and actively.
Spotlight on H.R. 5050: The Bill that Changed Everything for Women Business Owners. National Association of Women Business Owners, March 2018. NAWBO was founded in 1975 in Washington, D.C. to serve as the first advocacy organization for all women business owners. As this white paper demonstrates, many of our predecessors at NAWBO spent a considerable amount of time identifying and understanding institutional or attitudinal biases they and their fellow women business owners were facing at the time as well as the obstacles that were precluding women business owners from further growth. Their efforts changed the landscape not just for their generation but for the generations to come. Thanks in part to their advocacy, women business owners are now one of the fastest-growing segments of our nation’s economy. When women business owners do well, the economy does well. Additionally, women business owners bring an undeniable mission to give back in their work. Women business owners are very likely to reinvest any money saved or benefits extended to them back to their employees, their community, and other women business owners through groups like NAWBO, making them a great investment for us all.
Understanding the Landscape: Access to Capital for Women Entrepreneurs. National Women’s Business Council, March 2018. The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) is the federal government’s only independent voice for women entrepreneurs. Its mission is to support groundbreaking research that provides insight into women’s business enterprises from startup to success and to use and share these findings to advise constructive action and policies at the federal level. The NWBC contracted with the Federal Research Division (FRD) of the Library of Congress for research and analytical support to help establish a firm foundation of knowledge concerning the major issues influencing women’s entrepreneurship and business ownership.
Tackling the Gender Gap: What Women Entrepreneurs Need to Thrive. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, December 2017. Women are more than half the population of the United States and make remarkable political, economic and social contributions to our country. Women entrepreneurs, in particular, are creating new businesses, disrupting established industries and developing innovative products at a record pace.
2016 Small Business Credit Survey: Report on Women-Owned Firms. Federal Reserve Banks of New York & Kansas City, November 2017. Majority women-owned firms, where 51 percent or more of the business is owned by women, are an important segment of U.S. businesses. Since 2007, women-owned firms in the United States, both the self-employed and firms with employees (“employer firms”), have been growing—in number and as a share of all U.S. firms. As of 2015, women-owned firms totaled over one million and accounted for one-fifth of U.S. firms. Among women-owned employer firms, jobs and annual receipts have grown since 2012. Between 2007 and 2015, the share of employment by small women-owned firms increased by twenty percent, while the share of employment by all small firms declined by about four percent.
Veteran Women & Business: A Data Resource. National Women’s Business Council, November 2017. This report develops a profile of the veteran women business owner through the presentation of business and business owner characteristics from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 and 2012 Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons and 2015 Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs. It is not meant to be all inclusive but, rather, to highlight the current landscape of veteran women-owned firms based off of publicly available data.
Necessity as a Driver of Women’s Entrepreneurship: Her Stories. National Women’s Business Council, October 2017. The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) released “Necessity as a Driver of Women’s Entrepreneurship” this week. The report examines whether and how women turn to entrepreneurship to address potential market failures that limit their ability to attain or maintain economic self-sufficiency, or as an avenue to overcome flexibility bias and potential stigma in balancing work-life conflict assumed in traditional gendered roles and social norms.
Hispanic Women Entrepreneurship: Understanding Diversity Among Hispanic Women Entrepreneurs. Susana Martinez-Restrepo and Geri Stengel, September 2017. Hispanic people are the most diverse ethnic group in the U.S. It is crucial to understand how that diversity influences the challenges and opportunities Hispanic women face in starting and growing their businesses, yet few studies have tried to understand the extent to which diversity affects the revenues, sales and job creation of Hispanic women-owned businesses.11 This report identifies the unique characteristics of Hispanic women entrepreneurs, reviews entrepreneurship training program practices that work to encourage successful business outcomes among this population, highlights specific programs that exemplify these practices and suggests targeted tactics to unlock their potential.
Millennial Women: The Future of Entrepreneurship in America. National Women’s Business Council, June 2017. The United States Census Bureau defines millennials as individuals that were born between 1982 and 2000 and according to 2015 Census Bureau data, there are 83.1 million millennials in the United States. 1 By the year 2025, millennials will comprise 75 percent of the American workforce,2 and some will become entrepreneurs. However, a review of existing literature, surveys, and articles offers two contrasting opinions of the future of millennial entrepreneurship. The first viewpoint presents millennials as entrepreneurial champions, innovating as no prior generation has. Followers or advocates of this opinion describe millennials as digital natives with high interest and high involvement in entrepreneurship. In contrast to the optimistic opinion, others hypothesize a more pessimistic outcome where millennials could be the “lost generation” of entrepreneurs, burdened by debt and an uncertain economy. The data and anecdotal accounts in the media and current research present a dichotomy between the desire to start businesses and taking the steps necessary to make that desire a reality.
Billion Dollar Blindspot: How the U.S. Tax Code’s Small Business Expenditures Impact Women Business Owners. Kogod School of Business Tax Policy Center, June 2017. This report, in keeping with the mission of the Kogod Tax Policy Center (KTPC) to conduct non-partisan policy research on tax and compliance issues specific to small businesses and entrepreneurs, provides an initial assessment of how the Code’s tax expenditures targeted to help small businesses grow and access capital impact women-owned firms. The results are eye-opening.
Crowdfunding as A Capital Source for Women Entrepreneurs. National Women’s Business Council, May 2017. This research was commissioned by The National Women Business Council (NWBC) and prepared by A2F Consulting LLC to explore the distinct relationship between crowdfunding and women entrepreneurship and develop a deeper understanding of crowdfunding as a capital source. The research aims to: i) identify and document available demographic and other descriptive quantitative information on crowdfunding, including equity crowdfunding; ii) identify gender differences in crowdfunding in terms of industry, goals, investors, platforms used, and success; iii) document existing policies that may support or hinder women’s participation in crowdfunding campaigns; iv) provide additional information and guidance to women entrepreneurs seeking to raise capital through crowdfunding; and v) provide policy recommendations for supporting women entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurial Ecosystems and Their Service of Women Entrepreneurs. National Women’s Business Council, April 2017. Women-owned businesses are a significant and growing but underrepresented segment of the U.S. economy. In order for the United States and its various regions, to reach full economic potential, policymakers need to be able to assess the mechanisms throughout their local economies that support women entrepreneurs and to effectively coordinate the variety of stakeholders that share the same goal.
Women’s Participation in Business Incubators and Accelerators. National Women’s Business Council, March 2017. Women entrepreneurs are a vital component of the U.S. economy, as they are responsible for the creation of both new businesses and jobs. However, despite the rapid increase in the number of women-owned firms in recent years, women-owned businesses face significant barriers to growth, including limited access to capital and networks.
On the Commercialization Path: Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Outputs among Women in STEM. National Women’s Business Council, March 2017. Commissioned by the National Women’s Business Council and prepared by BD2, LLC and RTI International, On the Commercialization Path: Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Outputs among Women in Stem presents an examination of innovation among women in STEM fields by identifying gaps in their entrepreneurial outcomes and highlighting future opportunities for policy improvements.