Women Small Business Owners Divided on Limits of the Glass Ceiling
Women small business owners are feeling more optimistic about annual revenue and growth expectations than their male counterparts, according to the inaugural Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight, a study based on a survey of 1,000 small business owners across the country, focusing on the aspirations and pain points of women business owners.
According to the study, 54 percent of women entrepreneurs expect their revenue to increase over the next 12 months, compared to 48 percent of male small business owners. In addition, 60 percent of women business owners expect to grow their business over the next five years (vs. 52 percent of men). The two main sources of funding used by women entrepreneurs as they grow include their business credit card (28 percent) and bank funding (23 percent).
Year over year, women small business owners’ confidence has largely remained steady as their male counterparts’ confidence has declined. The number of male entrepreneurs who expect revenue to increase over the next 12 months has declined by 18 percentage points, and the number planning to grow their business over the next five years fell by 16 percentage points since spring 2015. Women’s revenue expectations and growth plans remained steady year over year, declining by 3 percentage points or less.
“Female entrepreneurs are excited about the future and focused on the success of their small businesses. They are demonstrating much greater levels of optimism than their male counterparts,” said Sharon Miller, managing director, head of Small Business, Bank of America. “However, women small business owners do express concerns about certain areas, which they are taking into account as they continue to grow.”
Women small business owners say glass ceiling exists, but split on whether it limits their opportunities
A majority of both women (77 percent) and men (56 percent) small business owners surveyed believe the glass ceiling exists for some women and minorities. Despite a strong majority acknowledging the glass ceiling, women business owners are split on whether it directly affects them. While 54 percent of female entrepreneurs don’t feel impacted, 46 percent have felt limited by the glass ceiling at some point in their careers.
Despite that, the majority of female small business owners believe they have the same access as their male counterparts to clients (79 percent) and outside resources (75 percent). However, 28 percent still feel they do not have the same access to capital as their male counterparts, and 25 percent say they don’t have the same access to new business.
When it comes to hiring or managing staff, 79 percent of female entrepreneurs say they experience the same challenges compared to men, with an additional 8 percent saying they experience fewer challenges than their male counterparts.
Female small business owners feeling empowered and successful
When asked how being a small business owner makes them feel, 49 percent of female small business owners surveyed said it makes them feel empowered, 10 percentage points higher than their male counterparts. Fifty-four percent of women stated that it makes them feel successful, and more female small business owners reported it makes them feel more content (35 percent), than stressed (33 percent).
Fifty-one percent of women entrepreneurs said they started their own business because they wanted to be their own boss, and 20 percent did so because they wanted to excel financially. Only 8 percent of women small business owners started their business because they were unhappy in their previous job.
Economic concerns impacting women small business owners
While both women and men small business owners share similar views on top economic concerns over the next 12 months, more women small business owners are concerned about:
- Corporate tax rates (54 percent of women vs. 45 percent of men).
- Strength of the U.S. dollar (59 percent of women vs. 45 percent of men).
- Commodities prices (52 percent of women vs. 44 percent of men).
Women small business owners are more likely to support raising the minimum wage; 55 percent of women entrepreneurs think raising the minimum wage would have a positive impact on the economy, compared to only 41 percent of men.
GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications conducted the Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight Survey for the summer 2016 online between March 17 and April 19, 2016 using a pre-recruited online sample of small business owners. GfK contacted a national sample of 1,000 small business owners in the United States with annual revenue between $100,000 and $4,999,999 and employing between 2 and 99 employees.
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