Female business entrepreneurs, once a quiet but growing segment of business owners, are more visible today, thanks to initiatives such as Lean In, based on the book by Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook. October is National Women's Small Business Month, and a recent survey of female entrepreneurs has found positive news: nearly three-quarters of female business owners report being optimistic about their business, despite more than half (56 percent) believing a recession is likely if Congress fails to raise the nation's debt ceiling before the U.S. Treasury runs out of cash, an event that government sources say is likely to happen tomorrow.
The Cox Business Snapshot of Women Entrepreneurs was based on a blind survey of 624 American women business owners in a multitude of industries, including consulting, retail, healthcare, accounting, real estate, technology and more. Thirty-eight percent of respondents reported being in business for more than 10 years.
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Today, about 30 percent of small businesses in the U.S. are owned by women, and the segment is fast-growing. Female entrepreneurs launch businesses in order to be their own boss and take better control of their careers, earn more money and still have time to balance work life with family responsibilities.
"This survey reveals that women are enthusiastically taking control of their professional destinies and taking the entrepreneurial road to self-sufficiency, personal satisfaction and financial success,” said Jill Campbell, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Cox Communications.
This is not to say that challenges aren’t ever-present and significant. Of the women surveyed for the study, 85 percent of survey respondents believe there are still business challenges unique to women entrepreneurs. Among that group of respondents, 73 said that gender bias still exists; and 71 percent said entrepreneurship increases their workloads due to family responsibilities. More than half (55 percent) responded there are industries that still lack opportunities for women. Nearly all respondents (92 percent) however, said that given what they know now, they would still choose to launch a business.
Women entrepreneurs are unique in how likely they are to reach out to their business networks to achieve success, the study found. Eighty-nine percent of respondents said their networks play an important or critical role in supporting their success. Another two-thirds feel that women make an effort to support other women in their entrepreneurial efforts.
Edited by Alisen Downey