Here's some encouraging news for Women's History Month : more women are starting businesses, and more woman-owned $1 million businesses are growing, according to a new report from American Express OPEN Forum.
The new State of Women-Owned Businesses looked at the past 15 years of business activity to track trends in women's business ownership. It found that American women are starting about 550 new businesses a day, opening more than 200,000 new enterprises in the past year. The rate of startup activity by women leaped 54 percent and far outstripped the overall business creation growth rate of 37 percent.
The study also found that women-owned firms are as likely as any other to be doing over $500,000 in annual revenue in industries including construction, transportation, and warehousing. Perhaps most encouraging, in the past five years, woman-owned firms with sales over $1 million have shown stronger growth than they did in earlier periods.
How have women been able to become more empowered to grow substantial businesses? Three things come to mind:
- First is the growth of women's networking activity, which has flourished in recent years. Groups such as Ladies Who Launch and Wild Women Entrepreneurs are attracting younger women, as well as women looking to grow big, national companies. Having a support group of other women peers who are serious about entrepreneurship can make a big difference, giving women more resources and simply the belief that they can grow a big company.
- Second, there's been progress for women in cracking the once male-dominated club of angel finance and venture capital. Now, many women have gained enough success that they have become angels, too. Some of those women investors are particularly motivated to help other women grow their companies.
- Finally, there's the internet. Many women start businesses at their kitchen table while they juggle childcare responsibilities. The ability to reach -- and sell to -- the whole world without ever leaving home is a boon for women entrepreneurs.
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