The United States has produced many women making it to the top and becoming successful leaders. This is despite the fact that the environment these women grew up in might not have facilitated their direct access to the business world or provided these women role models in which to emulate. Nevertheless, many women have managed to learn enough about conducting a business and leading a team through education and mentoring.
Although in most cases women are still the ones who manage the household and would not normally have the time that running a business requires, many have set their priorities straight and have successfully entered the business world. Recent statistics show that women are starting businesses in record numbers and bringing significant changes to an environment which, not too long ago, seemed to be structured primarily for men and their ways of thinking and working.
Until recently, very few women have managed to succeed as business leaders. Be it for the disturbing lack of flexibility, men’s solidarity in business or women’s lack of confidence in their skills and abilities as leaders, the reality is that not many women have succeeded to in leadership roles. Moreover, in the absence of any grants from government agencies, women have to turn to private and non-profit organizations for assistance in starting a business. And, unfortunately, such grants often address minority women or women that come from economically disadvantaged communities. In spite of a nationwide network of programs and centers that offer business training, assistance and educational resources specifically for women, the actual business opportunities women are presented with are not too numerous.
Despite all these major drawbacks, what we are witnessing today in the business world is something that many would consider surprising, to say the least. Things are changing and evolving rapidly to an unprecedented presence for women in the business environment. Statistics show that over 23 million people in the United States (approximately 16% of the workforce) are now employed by women-owned businesses. This is almost double the number of employees that the biggest fifty companies in the U.S. have altogether. In addition to this, women-owned businesses generate $3 trillion in revenue and are tantamount to the fifth-largest gross domestic product on a global scale.
The first question that comes to mind is “Why are women starting their own businesses?” The most obvious reason would have to be “Because they want to be financially independent.” We all know that depending on someone else for everything you need, from the food you put on the table and the clothes you wear to going on vacation or buying gifts for the holidays can be frustrating at times. All women feel the need to indulge themselves on their whims every now and then, and not all of them have the chance to do so, as long as they depend on someone else for money.
Of course, it’s not a question of housewife versus business leader. Women are now almost half of the nation’s workforce, which means that most of them have a steady income source and are able to provide for themselves and their families. But this is not the kind of financial independence I’m talking about. I am referring to the cashflow that a profitable business can generate, to no longer depending on a monthly paycheck and to not being forced to give up on many of your wishes and ideals. And if we take into account the fact that a woman’s average salary is around 75 percent of that of a man’s, it makes all the more sense for women to consider owning a business.
Could it be that women business owners saw a challenge in starting their own businesses and being successful like so many men before them? This too is a plausible reason. Now that equality between sexes is no longer an issue (except for maybe some remote parts of the world), women have the opportunity to prove that they are just as capable as men when it comes to setting up and fueling the growth of a profitable business. Many have succeeded and a lot more are attempting to.
Flexibility at their workplace and family-friendly benefits are yet another reason why women are considering business ownership. It is very difficult for a working mom to find the perfect balance between family life and career. Very few companies allow for family leaves or sick days, and even fewer provide their employees with high quality childcare. It is only natural that women try to relieve these burdens and attempt to set up an environment where such benefits would no longer be an issue. Given the minuses of the current employment market, it is safe to say that many women have chosen to start a business as a lifestyle choice. Everyone would like to have the flexibility that comes with being self-employed. Under these circumstances, there is little wonder why the number of women-owned businesses has seen such an astounding growth over recent years.
As I stated earlier, most women are the managers of their household and families. Statistics show that approximately three quarters of the decisions regarding purchases for the household are made by women. And in most cases, they do a great job managing everything around the house. Many women have decided to take a step forward and use this innate talent or acquired skill of juggling multiple tasks simultaneously, with the purpose of running a business of their own. The number of women starting businesses nowadays is almost three times the rate of men. Whatever the reasons for this growth may be, I am certain of one thing-we should all welcome this rise in the number of women-owned businesses for several reasons.
For one, women are more oriented towards communication than men and more likely to build stronger relationships with everyone around them, including the people they work with. Women feel the need to be part of a community more than men do, and a working community led by a woman is therefore more likely to be based on friendship and support.
Moreover, in most cases, women-owned businesses are closer to the kind of company that respects its employees’ needs. All the benefits I was mentioned earlier (sick leaves, daycare and family leaves) are more likely to be found in women-owned businesses.
All in all, not everyone might think that the days of women as housewives are long gone, but the statistics beg to differ. Women start businesses in such record numbers that it is safe to say that women-owned businesses will play a major part in the recovery of the economy.