Since 2007, the number of women-owned businesses has increased five times faster than the national average. After a recent White House summit, the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) recognized this “tipping point” for women in business. Discussion after the summit highlighted how individual women business owners can participate in this forward momentum by taking advantage of funding and rethinking their path to success.
A few quick stats from the NWBC’s annual report reveals how women and their businesses are driving the economy forward:
• Women-owned businesses generated $1.6 trillion in receipts
• Generating 35.1% more money in receipts in 2012 compared to 2007
• 8.9 million employees work for women-owned businesses
• California leads this trend with 37.4% of businesses owned by women
• Women are launching, on average, 1,200 new businesses a day
Women-Owned Businesses in California
Let’s take a closer look at the NWBC’s stat about California leading in women-owned businesses. Local trends support this claim: women-owned businesses in San Jose enjoyed a 31.7% growth rate in 2012. This is compared to a 19.1% growth rate for male-owned businesses in San Jose.
Despite stories of struggle for women working in tech, these statistics show that the Silicon Valley supports entrepreneurial women. The White House summit pointed to a gap between women and men business owners seeking capital and market access. Public policy makers try to close that gap with grants and advocacy. Places like San Jose and Palo Alto are seeing a continuing trend in success for women business owners thanks to these advocacy efforts.
Scenario: A Silicon Valley Staffing Agency
“Suppose an established creative staffing agency based in Palo Alto – one that is thriving – saw an opportunity to expand their business even more through private and government grants,” comments Scott Kindred, Director of SafeHouse Web. “And those grants allowed them to invest in implementing a strategy for better marketing, better branding, better digital outreach to a prized audience — the educated and skilled people in this area, the Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay Area.”
“We know that the staffing agency’s recruitment targets – highly talented people in the creative industries – often overlap with recruitment sources used by larger creative and technology staffing agencies in Silicon Valley, so the competition is tough. And we know they work hard to distinguish themselves from other recruiters. In doing so, they realize the value of investing in a successful marketing strategy.”
Kindred continued, “They apply for private, state, and federal grants found through organizations like the National Association of Women Business Owners – Silicon Valley. The grants they receive allow the creative staffing agency to hire a marketing team and build branding for their company. They can compete on the broader market and improve their access to the top talent pool often dominated by larger staffing agencies.”
The Less Travelled Path to Success
Not all gaps in success are due to a lack of capital or market access. Small business mentor Penny Pompei points toward women who manage business around their lifestyle. Some women business owners may intentionally minimize the size of their companies in order to devote time to their personal lives.
More hiring and delegation may allow some women business owners to grow their companies while maintaining a stable work/life balance. Entrepreneur Tina Forsyth thinks women in this position should see themselves as CEO. She watches fellow entrepreneurial women taking on the role of “chief multitasker” instead of being the boss.
Forsyth says, “I am a chief multi-tasker at heart. I did everything for the first 10 years of my business, and I had to learn how to undo this as I continued to grow.” She believes once women see themselves as entrepreneurs instead of simply self-employed they begin to grow their businesses faster.
Just the Beginning for Women in Business
Women business owners enjoy more freedom and success now than ever before. Women needing capital to expand into new markets may do so with the help of private and government grants. This possibility of growth may help women who see themselves as simply self-employed become the CEO of their companies. Organizations like the NWBC and the NAWBO provide support for women business owners as they drive the economy forward with their work.