The significance of the total amount of economic impact – $2.8 trillion – once again proves that women-owned firms are not a small, niche market, but are a major contributor and player in the overall economy. We often hear that small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, but when we speak of the U.S. economy, visions of large corporations and Fortune 1000 companies fill our heads. Again, we need to shift our thinking about what the U.S. economy is.
We cannot downplay the importance of small businesses in the overall economy. According to SBA’s Office of Advocacy, 99.7% of all employer firms are classified as “small businesses (less than 500 employees);” small businesses employ 51% of all people; have generated nearly two-thirds (64%) of net new jobs over the past decade and a half; and produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms. In fact, large corporations account for .03 percent of all firms and employ fewer people than small businesses. And women are in the forefront of creating small businesses.
The data indicates a continuing social and cultural shift for work and for women. Full or part time entrepreneurship is no longer a trend…it is an established practice. From 1997 to 2002, the Census data reports that nearly all growth in small businesses came in the non-employer segment and women had the largest growth compared to other groups. It is revealing that, while 28.2% of all U.S. businesses are owned by women, only 4.2% of all revenues are generated by women-owned businesses in the U.S. One probable explanation is the fact that the majority of these businesses are relatively small and new.
The 2009 economic impact study advocates the need for new thinking and programming to support women as they grow their businesses. While start-up advice and support is certainly important, there may be an even bigger need for programs that generate information and knowledge and engage entrepreneurs – especially women and minorities – to grow their businesses.
Consider these facts before you tell your branding story to women entrepreneurs. They are obviously more open to change and to trying new products than men. Ask yourself if your traditional methods of marketing to women are working for you. Even in traditional cultures, it is the open playful role of the woman, striving to be progressive, and trying something new. Even traditional men will allow ‘their women’ to try something new – and why not, they are in charge. But those in charge do not want change. In all cultures, women end up ‘deciding’ in one form or another – in spite of who takes credit for it. So who should you ‘not’ ignore among target customers? Be open to change. Seek understanding.