It’s no secret that women are further solidifying their position in the entrepreneurship world. They’re starting more new businesses than ever before, earning more, employing more people, and having more and more impact on local and global economies.
However, the progress of women in the business arena varies among different industries and parts of the world.
We’ve collected 13 of the most surprising women in business statistics that point to where businesswomen stand today and where they’re headed.
Let’s dive right in.
1. Women-owned employer firms grew by 16.7%, compared to 5.2% of men-owned employer firms over a seven-year period (Source)
The latest data backed by the U.S. Census Bureau also showed employer firms owned by women saw a 51.9% increase in growth receipts, or business value, compared to 34.2% in employer firms owned by men, from 2012 to 2019.
Additionally, women owned a total of 10.9 million nonemployer firms in 2018, making up about 41% of all such businesses in the US. Nonemployer businesses generated a total of $1.3 trillion in revenue in the same year, and women-owned businesses accounted for $299.7 billion of that revenue.
Keep in mind that this research considers a business to be women-owned if they have 50% or more of the stock or equity in the business. Therefore, these businesses may not necessarily be founded or established by women.
At any rate, these numbers indicate lower barriers to entry for women when it comes to entrepreneurship, investments, and high-level job roles.
While men-owned businesses bring in the majority of revenue, it’s only because of the volume of such businesses.
2. Only 25% of all small business owners are women (Source)
That being said, the gender gap between men and women as small business owners is reducing, with significant progress in recent years.
From 2012 to 2019, employer firms owned by women increased 16.7% while similar companies owned by men saw a 5.2% increase. During that span of years, gross receipts jumped 51.9% and the more than 10 million workers employed by women-owned businesses saw a 28% increase — while men-owned businesses saw a 10.8% rise.
3. 55.7% of female business owners are in Generation X (Source)
As of 2023, just over half of women business owners are members of Gen X. Meanwhile, 29.9% of women business owners are in the Baby Boomer generation and 14.4% are Millennials.
The study also found that the highest motivation for women starting a business was to be their own boss, at 27%. Meanwhile, 23% expressed dissatisfaction with corporate America while 15% wanted to pursue their passion.
Further, 10% of respondents said the opportunity presented itself, 9% were not ready to retire, 9% were laid off or their job was outsourced, and 7% of women surveyed had other motivations.
This indicates that more than half of all women business owners had intrinsic motivation to start or run their businesses.
4. 78.4% of female business owners are White women, but the percentage of businesses owned by women of color is increasing (Source)
In 2023, the percentage of female entrepreneurs who identify as African American or Black women increased 33% over the last year (total 11.3%). Meanwhile, the percentage of women who identify as Hispanic, Latina, or Spanish Origin (total 4.6%), and Asian or Asian American (total 4.6%), both doubled since 2022.
Additionally, 1% of female business owners in the United States identify as Middle Eastern or North African.
While the number of minority-owned businesses is lower than in other demographics, small business trends show inclusion and diversity are expanding. It’s reasonable to expect more businesses will be owned by minority women in the future, giving Native American, Pacific Islander, and Hispanic women, and members of all races, more business opportunities.
5. 67% of women entrepreneurs are confident their business will survive today’s economy (Source)
Meanwhile, 6% of women business owners said they do not expect their business to survive in the current economic state and 27% were unsure.
Additionally, the report found women are 21% less likely than men to be confident about the success of the business in the current economic climate, with 38% saying they are “somewhat unconfident” and 17% reporting feeling “very unconfident.”
The surveyed women shared that the current economy has led to increased prices and wages. Meanwhile, there have also been reduced budgets, loss of revenue, and loss of inventory. These have led women to cut their own wages.
On top of that, 43% of the women believe that the economy is going into a long-term recession.
6. Retail is the most popular industry among women business owners, at 26% (Source)
Among all businesses owned by women, just over one-quarter of them are in retail. This includes brick-and-mortar stores as well as e-commerce. This is followed by health, beauty, and fitness services businesses at 17%, food and restaurant businesses at 14%, lodging businesses at 7%, and education and training businesses at 6%.
Of businesses owned by women, the 2023 report found that 60% were profitable that year. A further 30% of women founders said they plan to increase staff within the year, 17% plan to expand or remodel their business, 18% aim to invest in digital marketing, and 11% intend to invest in traditional marketing.
7. 63% of women business owners expect revenues to increase in the next 12 months (Source)
In comparison, 68% of their male counterparts anticipate revenues to go up, according to the report by Bank of America. Meanwhile, 47% of women entrepreneurs plan to expand their business, compared to 58% of male business owners. And 33% of women who own businesses intend to hire more employees within the next year. As for males who own businesses, 44% say the same.
Furthermore, 79% of women plan to obtain funding for their business, compared to 87% of men.
As for macro opinions, only 38% of women are confident that the national economy is set to improve, compared to 50% of men. Meanwhile, 71% of women feel equipped to survive a recession while 84% of men surveyed gave the same response.
Generally, American women business owners have a positive outlook on their businesses. Most expect steady revenue growth in the next 12 months and the majority feel equipped to handle downturns.
8. Only 48% of women business owners believe they have equal access to capital as men (Source)
According to the Bank of America report, 29% of female respondents don’t think women business owners will ever have equal access to capital. However, 23% believe they will have equal access in the future.
That said, 48% of women business owners believe they have equal access to capital and 59% believe they have to work harder to get the same level of success as men.
Generally, female founders believe they’ll have equal access to capital as men by 2031.
The study also found that 75% of women business owners wish that they had more knowledge about small business finances. Additionally, 38% mentioned needing more knowledge about managing cash flow, 38% wanted to know more about accounting, and 37% wished they knew more about securing grants for their businesses.
It’s worth noting that 60% of women business owners reported they are self-taught, compared to 51% of men.
In any case, women are starting to receive better access to capital in recent years. Y Combinator alone has raised $8.4 billion for women-owned businesses, which now have a combined valuation of $45.5 billion.
9. 22% of women business owners say investors, colleagues, and customers tend to underestimate them (Source)
Additionally, the Simply Business survey of 800 women business owners in the UK found that 20% of respondents felt they weren’t taken seriously compared to men in the same industry.
On top of that, 15% felt they didn’t have a loud enough voice in their industries, 16% believe they’re not taken seriously when pitching their business or product, and 10% said they don’t have the same network access and mentors as men.
All in all, 32% of women entrepreneurs report experiencing some form of sexism as a business owner and 19% of women surveyed believe they have unequal access to opportunities.
In total, 91% of the women business owners surveyed said that inequality and gender bias were prevalent in their environment. A third of those women called the issue “severe” or “widespread.”
To fight bias and improve gender equality, 45% of female business owners believe more people should call out these issues when noticed. Also, 43% said the problem needs more exposure and more education should be offered, and 39% believe unconscious gender bias training and equal benefits are the key, such as maternity pay and paternity pay.
Additionally, 37% of women said that there should be more dedicated female investors and business programs, and 34% believe greater access to relevant networks, mentorship, and funding is required.
10. 38% of female entrepreneurs believe one-to-one mentorship will help them run their business (Source)
The Simply Business report also revealed that 33% of women business owners want to hear more advice and tips from leaders in their industry.
Furthermore, 41% of respondents said a chance to network with other women business owners was key to supporting women entrepreneurs.
Despite gender bias, inequality, and other disadvantages, 96% of female business owners surveyed say they recommend other women start a business.
Further, 32% said running a business was rewarding, 92% felt confident about running their business in the next 12 months, and 40% described themselves as “very confident.”
While women may have excellent business ideas, statistically they face steeper challenges and are less confident about their business’s ability to survive compared to their male counterparts.
However, women’s entrepreneurship and mentorship programs aim to change that mindset while giving women a platform to network and find investors more efficiently.
11. The top priority of women who own small businesses is more funding or financial help, at 49% (Source)
According to the survey by Intuit QuickBooks, 15% of female small business owners believe help with hiring would have the greatest impact on success, and 10% believe technology literacy education is most important.
Historically, women have experienced bigger obstacles to receiving funding and financial help for their businesses than their male counterparts. This lack of financial resources often leads women to build their businesses themselves.
When the business gets too big to handle, they have to hire, but often hiring employees is a completely new process for them. In addition to help with hiring, technology literacy is essential. Considering that roughly 30% of women business owners are Baby Boomers, remaining up to date with current technology is key for businesses to stay competitive.
12. More than half of women who own small businesses have used personal savings for funding, at 53% (Source)
Furthermore, 44% of respondents to the Intuit QuickBooks study reported using the Paycheck Protection Program from the U.S. Department of the Treasury to fund their businesses, and 26% said they used the Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
Only 15% of women surveyed have received a private business loan to fund their business. However, for businesses with less than $50,000 in annual revenue, that percentage decreased to 3%. As an alternative, 9% of respondents said they used loans from family or friends to help fund their business.
13. More female small business owners believe social media training will boost business growth, at 45% (Source)
As the second most popular response, 32% of women who own a small business want to increase growth through a faster internet connection. Of respondents, 8% said they don’t have access to affordable high-speed internet.
Furthermore, 29% of women said hiring and onboarding technology would help business growth, 27% said e-commerce training was important, and 21% said a fintech with funding options would help boost business growth.
What Women in Business Statistics Tell Us About the Future
The current numbers indicate that a new wave of entrepreneurship and woman-ran startups has begun, especially following the pandemic. More women than ever are starting businesses, getting funding, and contributing to business revenues.
However, these women in business statistics also show there is a long way to go before women have complete confidence in business equality. Gender bias and inequality are still obstacles to woman business ownership. But women are adapting to these gaps by developing women-only businesses and investor networks aimed at boosting women-owned firms.
As the number of women in business increases, the world of female entrepreneurship will continue to advance. While it will be an uphill climb, it’s reasonable to expect female-owned businesses will stand equal to men-owned businesses in the next several years, if not exceed them.