Women Business Moguls and Entrepreneurs

Let’s get down to business—women are starting, owning and leading companies at historic rates. The entrepreneurial spirit runs deep in many women and the U.S. economy wins big when women are at the cutting edge of start-ups and new business ventures.

I know women don’t hold enough positions at the highest levels of the big corporations, and this is often where the story stops. But what’s happening in other business arenas? We’ve seen how powerful women are in flexing their economic muscle and doing good for others.

Can we get beyond the glass ceiling as the only measure of women’s success in business? I think we can bust a few more myths.

Women Business Moguls and Entrepreneurs – The 3rd PowerLine

  • Over the past six years, since the depth of the U.S. recession, the only bright spot with respect to privately held company job growth has been among women-owned firms. In all other privately held firms, employment has declined over the 2007–2013 period.
  • Women-owned businesses are the fastest growing sector of the U.S. economy with $3.3 trillion of purchasing power.
  • Comparing trends in the number and revenue accomplishments of women-owned and all firms by industries finds that women-owned firms are exceeding overall sector growth in eight of the 13 most populous industries, and in two of those industries (construction and transportation) women business owners are standing toe-to-toe with their competitors in terms of revenue accomplishments.
  • Women start two-thirds of all new businesses each year, and in 2012 there were over 8.6 million women-owned businesses in the U.S.
  • More than 13 million firms in the U.S. are majority or equally owned by women. This represents 46% of all U.S. firms and over $2.7 trillion in revenue, employing nearly 16 million people.
  • Roughly half of all privately held firms in the U.S. are at least 60 percent owned by women.
  • The number of businesses owned by women has grown 1.5 times faster than the national average over the past 16 years.
  • Comprising just 17% of women-owned firms 16 years ago (929,445 firms), firms owned by women of color have skyrocketed to 2,677,700 as of 2013, now accounting for one in three women-owned firms in the U.S.

Did you know this modern story about business today? The face of business has changed—right in front of our noses—while women by the millions manifest their ideas into tangible reality by starting businesses and employing millions of Americans. Wow.

Looking Beyond the Glass Ceiling

So much of the usual discussion about women’s career success focuses on the glass ceiling. I’ve cited research here showing there are clearly other highly insightful ways to get a completely different view of the truth about women and business.

Interestingly, in most people’s minds, and in most media coverage, the power player in the economy is the large corporation. But guess what? Large corporations only account for .03 percent of all U.S. firms and employ less people than all small businesses combined. So, the glass ceiling discussion usually focuses on just .03 percent of all U.S. firms.

But in 99.7 percent of other U.S. companies (which are 500 employees or less), women start, operate, manage, grow, acquire, fund, merge and sell companies just like their male contemporaries—and in many instances, more successfully.

The large corporate business sector is highly consolidated, making a lot of decisions for millions of us from a men’s-only point of view. For this reason and many others as well, it is critically important that women hold more senior positions at the highest levels these companies. But just looking at data about the glass ceiling and our ability or desire to crash through it or not, is just too limited a view of women’s work success.

Instead, I say; here’s to understanding and celebrating the bigger picture.

Can’t we applaud women’s positive impact in U.S. businesses and the economy while also working aggressively to improve the balance of power in all business arenas, such as the boardrooms of large corporations?

Can’t we celebrate the millions of companies started and run by women—and the millions of people who went to work today at women-owned or operated companies—instead of only reinforcing the same old story of falling short and being locked out?

Yes, yes we can.

Next up in the PowerLine series: The Ballot Box and Women’s Political Clout

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