My sister makes amazing handcrafted jewelry, and I’m not just saying that because she’s my sister. It’s a passion that I’ve watched her develop over the years alongside having a successful career. I invited her to last month’s NAWBO Women’s Business Conference in San Antonio to connect with other entrepreneurial women and be inspired and ready if she decides to go “all in” as a small business owner. I think what was eye opening is noticing there are more women like her than she realized and her desire to make one-of-a-kind pieces that make women feel special and “prettied” was received well beyond her expectations. It’s a great time for her—and creative, talented women everywhere—to realize their gift and ability to create their own destiny.
That’s because women-owned businesses (the majority of which are small businesses) are growing. According to the 2015 State of Women-Owned Business report—commissioned annually since 2011 by American Express OPEN—there are 9.4 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. The report, which is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, also reveals that between 1997 and 2015—when the number of overall businesses in the U.S. grew by 51 percent—the number of female-owned businesses increased by 74 percent, which is about 1½ times greater than the national overall business rate.
Women-owned business owners are also extremely optimistic about the future. The 2015 NAWBO/Web.com State of Women-Owned Business report showed a growing sense of optimism about business performance and plans to invest in their businesses through marketing followed by product/service development. I was honored to recently appear on Small Talk with Mark S. Lee, a Detroit-based radio program that is broadcast across the U.S., to discuss this report’s findings and what they mean for the future of women’s entrepreneurship. Click here to listen to the podcast interview.
Women small businesses are also willing to make the sacrifices so often required to start and grow a business. This past spring, Bank of America released its Small Business Owner Report, a semi-annual study exploring the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners across the country. This iteration examined the personal and financial sacrifices entrepreneurs make for the sake of their business, customers and employees (for example, 23 percent of women report never giving themselves a raise vs. just 15 percent of men).
For our National Women’s Business Conference, Bank of America (our conference presenting sponsor) asked several of the same survey questions to our NAWBO community to see how the results compare. They also produced a great video about the sacrifices of women small business owners that was shot at a NAWBO-Columbus event. You’ll find an article on the survey, including NAWBO’s results, and the video in this issue of NAWBO ONE!
October is National Women’s Small Business Month, and while we are honored to celebrate it, we believe in highlighting and supporting advancements made by women in business year-round. It’s a great time for women—like my sister—to be their own boss, and NAWBO is committed to providing the sisterhood, education, training, “voice” of advocacy and more to support them as they power their dreams—whatever they may be.
—Crystal Arredondo, NAWBO National Board Chair