Women Entrepreneurs in the US: Facts about Today and Tomorrow

For the first time in US history, women became the majority of the workforce in 2010.

Women currently make up 57 percent of college students in the US.

Women currently make up 54 percent of accountants, 45 percent of law associates, 33 percent of doctors, and roughly 50 percent of banking and insurance jobs in the US.

Women-owned businesses are growing at double the rate of all businesses in the US and have done so for the past 30 years.

A study by the Guardian Life Index found that women owners and managers are:

  • More diligently engaged in strategic and tactical facets of their business
  • More proactively customer-focused
  • More likely to incorporate community and environment into their business plans
  • More receptive to input and guidance from internal and external advisers
  • More committed to creating opportunities for others

As of 2011, there were 8.1 million women-owned firms contributing $1.3 to the economy and employing 7.7 million individuals.

Statistics from The Atlantic, Center for Women’s Business Research


Study Finds Female Business Owners More Confident than Male Business Owners

The Small Business Pulse, a survey conducted by The Hartford found that 91 percent of female business owners say their business is successful based on how they feel their business is operating right now compared to just 80 percent of male small businesses. Despite their confidence and notable successes, women business owners face unique challenges and boundaries. Last year, we asked our 50 Fastest competition applicants if they felt they were on a level playing field with men. The majority, 62 percent, reported they felt completely equal. However, over a quarter felt they were not but that it did not affect their bottom line. Five percent reported they did not feel they were on a level playing field but that conditions are improving. Seven percent reported that they felt equal except for access to capital. We are excited to announce the winners of this year’s 50 Fastest Growing Women Owned/Led Companies, sponsored by the WPO and American Express Open, at our upcoming conference in Atlanta on April 26. We will share with you statistics about their success as well as their perceptions of their company and the business world.

From Thin Mints to Thinking Big

A recent article by Geri Stengel revealed that 80 percent of women business owners and 2/3 of US Congresswomen were once Girl Scouts. Not surprisingly, we learned at last year’s conference that the vast majority of WPO members once donned the famous green Girl Scout vest. Maybe there is something in those world-famous Thin Mints. From learning basic camping skills to door-to-door cookie salesmanship, Girl Scouts learn a diverse array of skills that help prepare them for the future. Geri contends that several of these skills make these young girls ripe for leadership roles. She says that, first, as cookie saleswomen, Girl Scouts learn basic business skills such as how to set goals, make decisions, market products, and manage finances. They are also encouraged to “dream big” and set big goals for themselves. In fact, last year, one Girl Scout sold over 3,000 boxes of cookies in less than three months. Girl Scouts also learn the power of collaboration – something WPO members can certainly attest to! The most successful business leaders know the importance of asking for help and learning from their peers. Girl Scouts teaches its members to give back to their communities. Similarly, social responsibility is not only a moral decision but provides an opportunity for businesses to become engaged with their community and target demographic. Taking risks, especially taking the right risks, is an important lesson for anyone looking to succeed. Girl Scouts are certainly not about complacency. Girl Scouts new CEO Anna Maria Chávez recently said they encourage a “go-for-it attitude.” Finally, Girl Scouts are encouraged to explore their passions and to have fun while doing so. The most successful business leaders are not just those with the skills necessary to succeed, but those whose passion serves as their driving force.

Don’t Forget to Register for our March 8th Webcast!

Want to know what economic trends you can expect this year? Register for our March 8th webcast! Known for his frank, tell-it-like-it-is style, Stuart Hoffman, PNC’s Chief Economist, will be sharing his economic forecast for 2012. With technology sponsored by IBM, the webcast will focus on trends – and the issues that affect them, the best performing regions and sectors, the painfully high but falling unemployment rate, stock and bond performance, and the impact of the election.

Stuart Hoffman, recognized as the most accurate economic forecaster in 2004 by BusinessWeek, is frequently quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Barron’s. He is a frequent guest on CNBC, Bloomberg TV and The Wall Street Journal Radio Report. Thanks to PNC, members are able to enjoy his expertise.

Conference Highlight: Author and Management Educator Jim Collins

Have you registered for our 15th Annual Conference in Atlanta? We can’t wait to see you there! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be providing you with an inside look at some of our outstanding events and renowned keynote speakers. This week, we want to introduce you to Author and Management Educator Jim Collins. His keynote address, Great by Choice will shed light on why some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not. Touching on similar themes, the prolific author’s most recent book GREAT BY CHOICE: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck—Why Some Thrive Despite Them All, is the result of nine years of research and rigorous analysis, and is a must read for anyone looking to get ahead in these tough economic times.

Jim brings with him a unique path to success. The avid rock-climber began his research and teaching career at Stanford Graduate School of Business where he was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992. Three years later, he founded a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where he continues to conduct research and consultations with both corporate and social sector executives. In addition to working with CEOs at over a hundred companies, Jim holds degrees in business administration and mathematical sciences from Stanford University, and honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Colorado and the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.

Stay tuned for more conference highlights! For additional information, please visit our conference page.

From a Million to a Billion: The 50 Fastest Demonstrates Women’s Progress in Business

We’re excited to announce that we’ve extended the deadline of the 50 Fastest Growing Women Owned/Led Companies in North America to February 14. Since we first launched the competition five years ago, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the revenue numbers of applicants. In fact, the individual revenue of applicants grew from a minimum of $1,000,000 in 2008 to a maximum of over $1,000,000,000 in 2011. This notable growth demonstrates that women are not only making a place for themselves in the business world, but are growing bigger and better companies. To help further this progress, we will conduct interviews with the winners to learn more about their strategies and paths to success. We encourage WPO members and non-members alike to apply and would like to thank our sponsor, American Express OPEN, for giving visibility to these incredibly deserving women.

Highlighting the influence of women

Oft relegated to “mom and pop businesses,” women owned/led companies, and their ever-increasing significance, are frequently ignored. That’s why we started the 50 Fastest Competition five years ago to highlight the increasing social and economic influence of women in the business world. The competition, for members and non-members alike, ranks companies according to revenue growth from 2007 through 2011. The 50 fastest growing companies have the chance of being published online and in print.

Last year, there were roughly 8.1 million women-owned businesses in the US that contributed $1.3 trillion to the economy, employing 7.7 million people. The top 50 in last year’s list generated an incredible $4.1 billion in combined revenues with an average of $82.7 million and 24,650 employees. WPO and American Express OPEN are happy to invite both members and non-members alike who had at least $500,000 in annual revenues by year end 2006 and 2 million in 2011 to apply for this prestigious award.