International Women’s Business Day is celebrated every year on March 8.
Originally known as the International Working Women’s Day, focus of celebrations around the world range from a general celebration of respect, appreciation, and love towards women to a celebration of women's economic, political, and social achievements.
The United Nation’s 2016 theme for International Women’s Day
is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality” Other corporations and organizations are organizing events around the hashtag #PledgeForParity.
While society has made tremendous progress toward gender parity, it is slowing down. In 2014, the World Economic Forum predicted that it would take until 2095 to achieve gender parity globally. Then last year it adjusted it’s estimate based on the current pace of progress stating the gender gap wouldn’t close until 2133.
Personally, I’m seeing a slowdown in progress among women business owners.
According to the National Women’s Business Council, there are currently 7.8 million women-owned businesses in the United States. This reflects a 20.1% increase from 2002 to 2007. That’s good news, however, while the number of women owned businesses is increasing, their access to capital remains mostly unchanged.
A study published by the Democratic staffers of the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee found that women only get $1 out of every $23 loaned to small businesses —
that’s only 4 percent. It may not surprise you then to learn that very few of these firms ever gross over one million dollars in revenue.
The first time I grew a business to a million-dollar-plus entity, I became intrigued by this statistic. At the time, (2006) fewer than three percent of women business owners were members of that elite club. So I wrote “The Girls’ Guide to Building a Million Dollar Business” to help other women build successful enterprises.
After all this time, you’d think things would be getting better. Sadly, I recently discovered an article on Forbes.com which noted that now fewer than two percent of women-owned firms become million-dollar businesses.
Beyond the negative
The headline on one prominent website recently said: "Rejected and dejected — women small business owners still struggle to get loans from banks." Statistically speaking, I think the use of the word "rejected" in that headline is justified. However, the word "dejected" isn't.
Women business owners continue to grow at twice the rate of their male counterparts. This incredible rate of growth among women entrepreneurs is happening despite the lack of funding from traditional sources. That is nothing short of phenomenal.
I believe this serves as testimony to women's natural persistence and capacity to accomplish much when given very little. Women are “thinking outside the box” and utilizing alternative strategies to grow their businesses.
It turns out that what makes women wonderful at raising families and running a household, also makes them talented and tenacious business owners.
Reducing financing needs
Without the necessary access to capital, women are finding creative ways to start and grow their businesses.
Here are a few of the areas in which women are able to level the playing field.
- Crowdfunding. Forget traditional funding sources, women business owners are turning to crowdfunding sites to attract the capital they need. In fact, two crowdfunding sites are specifically designed for women; Moolahoop, and Plum Alley. Because successful crowdfunding campaigns rely on strong networks, and women typically excel at building relationships, crowdfunding is a natural fit.
- Technology. Technology minimizes the barrier to entry for women owned businesses, reducing the amount of capital investment they need to start and grow their businesses. By incorporating the right technology resources, women can do business around the globe from anywhere at anytime at a fraction of the cost.
- Crowdsourcing. The ability to get the right talent, right when you need it provides a significant advantage for women owned firms to grow their businesses. By accessing the best people on a pay-as-you go basis, women can manage their over-head cost minimizing the need for growth capital.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, remember women are succeeding in business not because of the opportunities, but in spite of the challenges.
is a business expert, an entrepreneur and New York Times best-selling author. To read more of her work, CLICK HERE NOW.
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