Women-Owned Businesses

Women-Owned Businesses

Women-Owned Businesses

Women-Owned Businesses


The authors of this study bring into perspective the woman entrepreneur and some of the unique problems she faces as the owner and operator of her own business. The book follows the entrepreneurial process from concept development through expansion, growth, and transitions to an established business. Among the topics covered are networking among woman entrepreneurs, business growth, financing, the role of trustees, and changing the direction of a business's operations. The appendix lists sources of advisory and financial assistance to the woman entrepreneur. The topics covered are the issues that any business faces, but the authors bring into perspective the woman entrepreneur and some of the unique problems she faces as the owner and operator of her business.


A record number of business start-ups have been seen in the past few years. In 1987 alone, there were 700,000 business start-ups. Businesses owned by women accounted for over 25 percent of that figure.

The phenomenon of women business owners has its roots in the women's movement. When women moved out of their kitchens, they moved into corporations. This century has seen the first woman partner of a law firm, the first woman Rotary member and the first woman vice-presidential candidate. Despite these advances, however, many women experienced the "glass ceiling," a barrier that stopped them from climbing to the tops of corporate ladders. As a result, women began forming their own companies.

As record numbers of women have started their own businesses, we are now in a position to ask some fascinating questions: Do women entrepreneurs differ from men? If so, how? Which new or different values do women bring to corporate culture? Do the goals of women entrepreneurs differ from men's? Do women have different problems? Which skills do women bring to entrepreneurship? Which limitations?

Women entrepreneurs have become the target of marketing efforts by government agencies; the subject of research by business schools and universities; and the focus of books, magazine articles, and television programs. Companies are designing special products for women business owners, differentiating them from business owners in general.

All of this attention is fine, but it does not detract one iota from the most basic of facts: as business owners, women face tough problems: Nobody makes sales for them. They have to market or manufacture their products or services. They must decide who to hire and who to fire. Nobody hands them money. And nobody holds their hands.

Experts and entrepreneurs alike agree that management skills are an integral factor in business success. The Dun & Bradstreet Business Failure Record for 1981 states: "In nine out of ten failures, the lack of managerial experience or aptitude was the underlying factor."

Most woman-owned businesses are less than five years old, thus still in that critical period when failure is most likely for all businesses. Woman-owned businesses average 7 percent growth per year; fully 90 percent are in the service sector. Which implications do these facts have for women business owners?

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