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Look Out Donald Trump, We’re Gaining on You!

Know the Score!

Posted: February 12, 2008 8:28 p.m.
Updated: April 11, 2008 2:02 a.m.

In 1992, according to Census Bureau statistics, women owned 6.4 million firms, or a third of all businesses in this country. They brought in 10 percent of all small business revenue and only employed 15 percent of the nation’s workforce.

Today the Census Bureau indicates that women now own 10.4 million businesses or 41 percent of all privately held firms. They employ 12.8 million workers and generate sales of $1.9 trillion. That’s clear evidence that women are making gains in business, so Donald Trump and other corporate giants beware.

The Center for Women’s Business Research in Washington, D.C. sees a few trends and predicts they will continue into the next decade. One is that women-owned businesses are growing at twice the rate of all other businesses with no stopping seen in the future. They’re gaining in revenues and expanding into new fields such as engineering, wholesale and construction businesses.

Thankfully, access to capital is also opening up for women. Banks who never took women-owned businesses seriously are now seeing them as a viable investment.

Another trend that has surfaced in the past few years is that women business owners are now going after equity. Equity investors — those who fund businesses in exchange for a share of the firm’s ownership — report that they are receiving more proposals from women-owned companies.

Here are some other startling statistics:

• Women-owned firms, 50 percent or more owned by women, account for 41 percent of all privately held firms.

• There are 2.4 million firms owned 50 percent or more by women of color in the U.S., employing 1.6 million people and generating nearly $230 billion in sales annually.

• Between 1997 and 2006 the number of privately held firms, 51 percent or more owned by women of color, grew five times faster than all privately held firms.

• Women of color own 42 percent of all firms owned by persons of color — up from 36 percent in 2004.

• Asian women employer firms have the highest survival rate of all women-owned firms. Seventy-seven percent of their businesses in operation in 1997 remained in business in 2000.

In 1920 women finally got the right to vote, but it wasn’t until 43 years later that we had a business-owner role-model named Katharine Graham to emulate.

It was 1963 before we had the first woman president of a Fortune 500 company in the U.S. She was Katharine Graham, who assumed control of the Washington Post Co. after her husband’s suicide. From 1969 to 1979 she was also the publisher of the newspaper, and from 1973 to 1991 she was board chairman and CEO. She remained chairman of the executive committee until her death in 2001. The Washington Post Co. went public in 1971 at $6.50 per share, and when Graham stepped down as CEO on May 9, 1991 the price was $222 — a gain of 3,315 percent.

According to almost any survey, private or public, the growth and number of women-owned business enterprises show no signs of slowing, but some stumbling blocks remain. These are:

• Men still control access to business opportunities and capital.

• Women are not taking advantage of diversity programs to the extent others are. Women must be more visible in institutional and marketing networks.

• Women must understand globalization and other trends in the marketplace if they want to expand their businesses.

Women business owners must view themselves as role models and leave a legacy for the next generation. They must expand their businesses and embrace entrepreneurship as a pathway to economic independence. The achievements of today’s woman business owner will help bust barriers for the new generations as they find their own entrepreneurial spirit.

Ladies, we’ve come a long way, but there’s a longer way to go before we see a woman on the cover of Fortune magazine so let’s get busy. After all we’ve juggled raising children with paying bills, reconciling check books, budgeting the grocery bills and scheduling all the doctor, dentist and vet appointments for the family — how hard can it be to run our own business?


Commentary by Dr. Maureen Stephenson, a local author and owner of REMS Publishing & Publicity. Her column represents her own views, and not necessarily those of The Signal.

Copyright: The Signal


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