Written by Silva Zambrano
Last month, we celebrated national Women’s Small Business Month, which commemorates the October 1988 passage of the Women’s Business Ownership Act throwing out the legal mandates that women were required to have a male relative as their co-signer on business loans.
A lot has changed in 31 years. This week, for example, marks the fifth annual Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, described by Fortune Magazine as a global celebration of female business owners.
And last year alone, there was an estimated 12.3 million women-owned businesses, accounting for 40% of all businesses and generating $1.8 trillion in revenue, according to the National Women’s Business Council 2018 report. Indeed, female entrepreneurs have truly become a driving force in the nation’s economy, starting new businesses at a higher rate than ever. That’s true in Fresno County as well, where the most recent data from the Census Bureau reports there are some 23,000 women-owned businesses.
As a matter of fact, women small business owners are poised to end 2019 on a high note, with 84% anticipating year-over-year revenue growth, according to Bank of America’s 2019 Women Business Owner Spotlight.
To better understand this thriving community of business owners, Bank of America surveys women business owners annually across the country to gain insights into their goals, aspirations and concerns.
Notably, this year’s survey found that women entrepreneurs are more confident in their revenue, hiring and expansion plans compared to their male counterparts.
— 73% plan to expand their business over the next 12 months (vs. 66% of male business owners, and up from 67% in 2018)
— 62% expect their revenue to increase in the year ahead (vs. 55% of male business owners, and up from 58% in 2018)
— 25% are planning to hire (vs. 23% of male business owners, and up from 21% in 2018)
— 52% of women entrepreneurs are confident their local economy will improve (up from 49% in 2018)
Mixed with this optimism and momentum were reflections on the challenges of establishing and financing a small business — including the extent to which gender bias may play a role. For example, more than half of women entrepreneurs say they don’t feel that they have the same access to capital as their male counterparts.
When reflecting upon positive influences on their success, more than half of women business owners identified external factors like experiencing adversity, obtaining a college degree and having a mentor have helped them achieve success.
When asked for the single character trait that has had the greatest impact on their business success, women entrepreneurs identified integrity (23%) as the top personality attribute, closely followed by perseverance (22%).
Looking to the future, business owners agree that having more women in positions of influence would be the most impactful in paving the way for the next generation of women in business.
And we couldn’t agree more.
As the nation’s leading small business lender, with approximately 40% of the 12 million small business owners we serve being women, Bank of America recognizes just how vital the role of women is in driving economic growth.
Education, training and networks play key roles in entrepreneurial success, which is why we have formed partnerships to connect women entrepreneurs to these resources. For example, we recently doubled our commitment to the Tory Burch Foundation Capital Program, committing $100 million to help female entrepreneurs grow their businesses. For the sixth consecutive year, we also partnered with the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), serving as the presenting sponsor of the annual Women’s Business Conference.
We are proud to do our part by providing the capital, opportunities and tools women entrepreneurs tell us they need to help launch and grow their businesses, so that they have the power to advance their businesses and make significant contributions to our economy.
For more research findings on the 2019 Women Business Owner Spotlight, please click here.
Silva Zambrano is a Bank of America business banking relationship manager.