Vision, mission, and hard work—these are the basic qualities of any successful entrepreneur, whether male or female. However, while entrepreneurship may seem like a gender-neutral endeavor at first blush, women are still notoriously underrepresented in the career path. Nevertheless, as of 2015, the U.S. reached a momentous milestone: 10 million businesses owned by women…and counting! And with women now owning about 30% of the nation’s businesses, tremendous potential for growth remains, especially since 8.3 million jobs were newly minted as a result of these businesses.
Another important milestone for women entrepreneurs was the inaugural CNBC Upstart 25, which proudly featured 10 female CEO’s from across several industries. This recognition among the entrepreneurial community is a powerful indicator of a national shift towards actively supporting female leadership in business. And with the U.S. at the forefront of the top 5 countries for women entrepreneurs, an increase in women-led businesses in the U.S. is not just imminent, it’s unstoppable.
No Slowing Down
With women reportedly starting nearly 1,200 businesses each and every day, the growth rate of women-owned business is rapid. In fact, it far surpasses the growth rate of businesses started by men. Recent data showing the growth rate of women-owned ventures at three and four times greater than those started by men can mean only one thing—we have entered a Golden Age for female entrepreneurs that shows no signs of slowing.
Chair of the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) Carla Harris shares this optimism regarding the burgeoning entrepreneurial appetite of women. She asserts that we are in the midst of a “perfect storm” of economic and societal factors that foster innovation among women, and suggests that entrepreneurship is likely to continue to grow.
However, in any successful business, constant adaptation and improvement is necessary in order to maintain steady growth. Similarly, in order to achieve continued growth in female entrepreneurship, change and improvement are called for. Notably, one of the largest challenges affecting female CEO’s is lack of access to capital. According to a study by Babson College, the amount of venture capital funding received by male and female entrepreneurs is extremely disproportionate, with about 97% of the total venture capital funding going to companies with a male CEO.
But why is that? Candida Brush, professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College, suggests that an issue in representation may be to blame. She contends, “It may be time for the media, educators and funders to recognize that successful entrepreneurs are not all like Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates.” In other words, if investors are to take entrepreneurial women and their ideas seriously as fundable ventures, there needs to be a shift on the profile of how a successful entrepreneur looks, away from the stereotypical male tycoon and toward a broader, more inclusive and accurate profile that includes women.
Despite the many obstacles that lie in the way of female entrepreneurs, history has continually proven the resilience and resourcefulness of women. In addition, several organizations and communities throughout the country exist solely to join individuals together in support of female empowerment, with the goal of achieving opportunity and equality in entrepreneurialism, business and leadership.
One such organization is the JVS Women’s Leadership Network (WLN) in Los Angeles. This dynamic group offers a range of networking opportunities for its membership, and sponsors an annual innovative women’s conference that is open to the public. If you are interested in finding out more about their 5th Annual Woman to Woman Conference—“Unstoppable: The Power of Women”—please visit the JVS Conference Website.
All proceeds are directed to nonprofit JVS’ programs supporting women in career crisis or transition.