With Women’s History Month in full swing, it’s important to recognize that women are extraordinary every day of the year. Female entrepreneurs are making history all around us—at a national level (Bumble’s CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd) and locally (think about the 11.6 million women-owned small businesses). It’s inspirational to see women succeed in the business world, ensuring not only their own seats at the table but further opening the door for other women to follow in their footsteps or blaze their own trail.
However, working women have hit a catastrophic roadblock in the wake of COVID-19. The pandemic negatively impacted women significantly more than men, causing what is now being referred to as the “she-cession”. In fact, the December 2020 Jobs Report revealed the sobering fact that women accounted for 100% of the 140,000 jobs lost that month, with women of color making up the majority of those jobs.
Female entrepreneurs need our collective support. As such, female entrepreneurship has never been more important for our society, economy and technology innovation.
As a self-made woman and C-suite executive in a major tech company that prides itself on its strong female leadership – more than half (66%) of the Newfold Digital leadership team is female – I understand the importance of supporting women in business and the positive impact lifting up female voices has on the economy and society. In honor of Women’s History Month, I’ve laid three of my top reasons to support women-owned businesses every day of the year.
Female Entrepreneurs are Resilient
Following a year of unprecedented hardship, it has never been more important to empower female entrepreneurs to make their mark and change our world for the better. Ever proving their resilience, more and more women are taking that initial leap; according to a 2020 survey of 500 US small business owners conducted by Bluehost, more female entrepreneurs left the 9-5 grind behind to launch their business than male (73% female vs 56% male).
Starting a new business, no matter the size, is not an easy undertaking. On average, it takes two to three years to reach profitability and only half of all businesses make it through the first five years of operation. This time and effort is compounded by the fact that women have taken on the majority of the unpaid labor that day-to-day life brings both in the new normal and in a pre-COVID world, including schoolwork/homeschooling, caregiving, childcare and maintaining the household. Not only does this take a toll on women’s mental health, but adds to women’s ever-growing plates, leaving little room for things like growing a career and a business. With that perspective in mind, the nearly 12 million women-owned small businesses are that much more impressive.
Female Entrepreneurship Stimulates Economies
While the number of female-owned businesses is rising, only 31% of businesses are owned by women. The truth is gender parity has dramatic country-wide economic benefits.
When more women venture into starting a business, they stimulate the economy, curating products and services that address the needs of women and niche audiences. Put simply, women can better design products and services that appropriately address the needs of women.
Additionally, women-owned businesses have an economic impact of $3 trillion, which accounts for 23 million jobs (16% of U.S. jobs). At a small business level, as more women launch their businesses and find success, more jobs are created, driving more economic growth across the country. Finally, women are more likely to hire women, which drives the unemployment rate for women down.
The Societal Impact of Female Entrepreneurship
As they represent half of the world’s population, women bring a key perspective that is often overlooked by their male counterparts to solving societal and business problems. Because of this “fresh set of eyes” women bring to business, they often lead their companies to be more innovative and forward-thinking over time. This leadership and influence have a positive impact beyond the business, reaching the broader society.
There are several notable ways female entrepreneurs differ from their male peers – they are natural communicators and connectors, willing to go outside their comfort zones/take risks and they are more than willing to get their “hands dirty.” In fact, 61% of female SMB owners built their website themselves versus the 48% of male SMB owners.
In a time where diversity, equity and inclusion are at the forefront of the social conversation, supporting women-owned businesses is a small step to take toward a goal of equality. According to the 2019 State of Women-Owned Business Report, women of color account for 89% of the net new women-owned businesses per day (1,625). With each new business started, there is an endless supply of innovation, creativity and new perspectives entering the market. Female entrepreneurs are the future of business, and it’s time we give them the recognition and support they deserve.
How to Support Female Entrepreneurs
As a community of small business leaders and supporters, it is on us to set a precedent and serve as champions for female entrepreneurs that took a chance on their passions and started a business. There are endless ways to support female entrepreneurs, whether it be shopping small at local women-owned businesses, investing in women-owned businesses or making donations. If budgets are tight, there are other ways to support female entrepreneurs that don’t break the bank including mentoring women looking to start their own businesses, supporting women-owned businesses on social media, or looking to your own business practices to ensure a more inclusive workplace.
Even with the global economic rebounding, it is critical that we continue to support female entrepreneurs to avoid regression on equality accomplishments thus far. This starts by making a concerted effort to support female business and ensure that now is, and continues to live on as, the age of the female entrepreneur.
Paula Drum is the Chief Marketing Officer of Newfold Digital, a leading web technology provider serving millions of small-to-medium businesses globally. Drum is a digital veteran with a proven understanding of the digital revolution’s impact on consumer behavior, and she has led companies through the critical changes required to compete in today’s technology-centric world.