Female Entrepreneurs Are on the Rise: 10 Things To Know About Women-Owned Businesses

  •    Freelance journalist covering women, business, policy and social good.

Before Martha Stewart discovered good things, Oprah Winfrey founded Harpo Productions and Sara Blakely invented Spanx, women entrepreneurs were growing the American economy for hundreds of years.

In 1766, Mary Katherine Goddard became the America's first woman publisher – and printed the first copy of the Declaration of Independence with the names of all the signers. Madam C.J. Walker was one of the most successful women entrepreneurs of the 20th century after creating Madam Walker's Wonderful Hair Grower formula in 1905. In the 1950s, a single mom named Brownie Wise invented the first Tupperware party.

After 20 years of growth, women-owned businesses now account for 39% of all U.S. businesses. Here's a look at how women entrepreneurs are doing today:

  • By the numbers: There are over 11 million women-owned businesses in the United States that employ nearly 9 million people and generate more than $1.7 trillion in revenues.

  • On the rise: Over the past 20 years the number of women-owned businesses grew 2.5 times faster than other businesses, rising 114% compared to just 44% for all businesses.

  • Fastest growing: Nearly 3 million U.S. firms are majority-owned by women of color. From 1997-2017, the number of these firms grew 467% – four times faster than women-owned businesses overall.

  • Where the women are: Half of all women-owned businesses are in three industries: Services (hair and nail salons and pet care businesses); Health Care and Social Assistance (day care and home health care services); Professional / Scientific / Technical Services (lawyers, accountants, public relations firms).

  • Women of influence: The top five states where women-owned businesses most increased their economic clout between 1997 and 2017 are: Nevada, District of Columbia, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Georgia.

  • It's never too late to inspire: The largest age group of female entrepreneurs is 50-59 years old.

  • Top three reasons for women going into business: Wanting to pursue their passions (51%), wanting to be their own boss (49%), an opportunity presented itself (34%).

  • Five biggest hurdles to business ownership for women: Can't find funding (74%), Lack of a support system (31%), Haven't identified the right opportunity: (30%), Not sure where to start (30%), Not ready to leave my job (11%).

The top funding methods used by women in business are cash, funding from friends and family, and 401(k) business financing.
Million Dollar Businesses: One in five firms with revenue of $1 million or more is woman-owned.

Are you a female entrepreneur? Join the movement and bring your brilliant idea to life today.

Sources: The 2017 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, 2018 Women in Business Trends, National Association of Women Business Owners.