Women meet challenges in business

Published: Monday, Sept. 3 2012 6:00 p.m. MDT

Despite those statistics, women receive only 5 percent of financial capital, Klein said. The Women's Funding Network contends that if women entrepreneurs had access to the same amount of capital as male entrepreneurs, they would add 2 million jobs to the economy in just one year and 6 million over the course of five years. 

In the U.S., the amount of private, women-owned companies has increased twice as fast as those owned by men, and women-owned businesses have created or maintained 16 percent of all jobs and generated over $2 trillion in revenue, the report stated.

"In 2010, 62 percent of the business owners looking for financing were male, compared to 38 percent female," said Brock Blake, CEO of South Jordan-based funding facilitator Lendio. "Now (in 2012), only 52 percent of the business owners looking for financing are male, compared to 48 percent female."

According to an October 2010 report from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic and Statistics Administration, women constituted almost half of the employed population in 2008 but are under-represented among business owners.

Furthermore, privately held women-owned businesses are substantially smaller than men-owned businesses, whether measured by average sales/receipts or employment. Although they have been growing faster, women-owned businesses still lag behind men-owned businesses, the report stated.

In 2007, 7.8 million companies were owned by women — nearly 30 percent of all non-farm, privately-held U.S. firms. Women-owned firms had sales receipts of $1.2 trillion and those with paid employees had 7.6 million workers.

From 1997 to 2007, the number of women-owned businesses rose by 44 percent — twice as fast as men-owned firms — and added around 500,000 jobs, while other privately held firms lost jobs.

The report said the reason, in part, was because women-owned firms were more likely to be located in industry sectors that experienced employment growth, such as health care and education services.

During the five-year period from 1997 to 2002, the number of businesses owned by minority women increased faster than those owned by non-minority women, with minority women-owned firms accounting for more than half of the increase in women-owned businesses.

Because women-owned businesses are typically smaller than their male-owned counterparts, even though women own 30 percent of all privately held businesses, those businesses account for only 11 percent of sales and 13 percent of employment among privately held companies.

Additionally, average sales receipts for women-owned businesses are just one quarter of the average sales receipts for men-owned businesses.

The report also stated that there were substantial differences in the financing utilized by women-owned versus men-owned businesses. For instance, women start with less capital than men and are less likely to take on additional debt to expand their businesses. They are also more likely than men to indicate that they do not need any financing to start their business — case in point, Shulte's bakery, which she said was "completely self funded."

"It is difficult to distinguish preferences from constraints in these data," the report states. "Women may encounter less favorable loan conditions than men or they may be less willing to take on risk by seeking outside capital."

The characteristics of self-employed women are similar to those of self-employed men. While compared with non-self-employed workers, self-employed women and men are typically older, more likely to be married and less likely to have children at home. However, women who are self-employed work fewer hours on average in their business than self-employed men, according to the report.

The annual earnings ratio between self-employed women and men is 55 percent — well below the ratio between non-self-employed women and men. 

According to the Utah Division of Corporations, since Utah passed a law five years ago allowing women-owned businesses to voluntarily designate themselves as such, the total number of businesses to register in that category to date is 4,284.

How fruitful a new business will be long term depends on a number of factors, Rivkind said. But she added that determination, preparation and knowledge will be keys to giving any new business owner — male or female — the best chance for achievement.

"Focus on your goals," Rivkind said. "If you understand your product, the marketplace and where you think you're going to have the most success, just move forward."

E-mail: jlee@desnews.com Twitter: JasenLee1

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