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The Power & Possibility for Women-Owned Small Business

Celebrating Success & Driving Our Economy Forward

Celebrating Dreams 2022 is just 1 week away! As we gear up to celebrate female entrepreneurship, we reflect on it’s positive economic impact, recent obstacles, and how determination can lead to a resilient business. Self-employment, entrepreneurship, and business ownership are fundamental economic engines representing a source of income, an opportunity to build wealth, and a critical path to economic self-sufficiency. For example, 1 in 4 entrepreneur mothers reported being the sole provider in their household prior to the pandemic. Even in households with additional sources of income, 3 in 4 entrepreneur mothers contribute at least half of their household income (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

It is the nature of entrepreneurs to recognize obstacles as opportunities to grow a stronger, more agile, more resilient business. Washington Women’s Business Center and Business Impact NW celebrate the growth and diversification of the local economy as women-owned businesses continue to grow in number and prosperity. Women-owned businesses drive our economy forward, especially businesses owned by minority women.

  • In 2021, 1.1 million of employer small businesses were owned by women (Annual Business Survey)
  • In the past five years, total employment by women-owned businesses rose 8%, 1.8% for all other businesses (NAWBO)
  • 37.6% of all business in the United States are women owned (NWBC)
  • 5.4 million firms are majority-owned by women of color in the U.S. (NAWBO)
  • Over half of home-based small business are women owned (Annual Business Survey)
  • Businesses owned by women are growing at faster rates than those owned by men. This is especially true for minority owned businesses, which grew at a rate of 14% between 2014-2016 (Annual Business Survey)
  • In 2020, women-owned businesses executed 344,000 contracts across the U.S., with 4,591 contracts specifically providing critical COVID-19 support (PERFORMANCE.GOV)

The Impact of the Pandemic was Felt by All Businesses

As consumer habits shifted dramatically in March 2020 in response to stay-at-home orders and office and school closures, the number of active business owners in the U.S. dropped by 3.3 million or 22% from February to April 2020. However, the rate of new entrepreneurs increased  as workers were laid off and turned to part- or full-time business activities. More than one million new employer firms were opened between March 2020 and March 2021(U.S. Census Bureau).

In 2020, about 4 in 10 new entrepreneurs were women. The number of women who listed self-employed as their primary job increased by more than 200,000 from 2019 to 2020 (U.S. Census Bureau). The rate of new entrepreneurs remained higher in 2021 than pre-pandemic levels for both women and men.  For women, the rate of new entrepreneurs increased from 0.23 percent in 2019 (230 out of 100,000 women) to 0.30 percent in 2020 (300 out of 100,000 women) and dropped to 0.28 percent in 2021 (280 out of 100,000 women) (Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation).

Creating Equal Opportunities

Woman business owners benefit from a strong ecosystem of public, private, and non-profit institutions. A single change can positively impact the economic success of businesses. Washington Women’s Business Center (WWBC) is a proud member of a national network of Women's Business Centers (WBC) throughout the United States and its territories designed to assist women in starting and growing small businesses. WBCs seek to "level the playing field" for women entrepreneurs. In 2021, the network of Women's Business Centers assisted more than 87,000 businesses and helped start over 3,300 new businesses (OWBO)!

We have an opportunity to create an economy that is different than the economy being left behind.  Thank you for choosing to be part of this amazing community of women business owners who are better together.

About the author

Susan Perreault

Susan Perreault, DBA is the Vice President of Programs at Business Impact NW. Prior to joining BINW, Ms. Perreault earned a doctorate in business administration and spent the majority of her career as a serial entrepreneur and in senior management positions in the professional beauty industry. As a business owner, she understands how difficult it can be to start and run a business. Susan’s extensive business experience, interests, and academic training have prepared her to coach business owners in a broad range of areas including business administration, organizational leadership, entrepreneurship, operations management, distribution, marketing, sales, strategic management, and international business.

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