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Female Entrepreneurs are Becoming Important Players in the Middle Market

Today, women are underrepresented in the S&P 500, but it's a different story in the mid-market. According to the Middle Market Power Index by American Express and Dun & Bradstreet, the middle market represents a promising landscape for women entrepreneurs.

Their index also shows that women-owned mid-market firms increased by 24% from 2008 to 2014 (compared to just a 4% increase across the markets). And it shows that women-led mid-market companies now account for 13% of all middle-market firms, compared to just 4% of Fortune 500 companies.

“65% of women leaders who were mentored become mentors to other women in their field.”

Another recent survey, by LinkedIn, reported that women leaders inspire women managers to keep striving for more, instead of leaving their present jobs due to lack of advancement or dissatisfaction with their leadership. A study by Catalyst shows that when it comes to leadership, 65% of women leaders who were mentored become mentors to other women in their field.

And it seems the time is right for female entrepreneurs. Interest rates are low and there are a lot of investors just looking for a good opportunity; media attention hasn’t hurt either. All of the high-visibility stories about successful women on the rise are spurring other women on. It seems that what is good for women entrepreneurs is also good for the market as a whole.

The 2015 Kauffman Index shows that women seem to be better than their male counterparts at recognizing needs in the market and meeting those needs. Pamela Prince Eason, president and CEO of Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, says that women business enterprises, “are agile, innovative problem-solvers” who can meet the needs of corporations by “adapting to marketplace changes and providing deep value and cost-effectiveness.”

Another edge that women bring to the table: It seems that private-equity firms that have women in their top spots actually have the competitive edge when it comes to winning bids for female-led companies (as attested to by the women on Mergers & Acquisitions’ Most Influential Women of the Mid-Market). In fact, when Riverside Co. wanted to make a deal with Tate’s Bake Shop’s founder, Kathleen King, they looked to their firm’s COO, Pam Hendrickson. Her involvement helped show how committed they were to keeping everyone’s perspectives in mind. Hendrickson plays a key role as part of Riverside’s investment committee. Riverside’s Board believe that having a woman in a leadership position helped them win the deal with Tate’s, and helped them recruit Maura Mottolese (formerly the president of Switch Beverage Co.) as the new CEO of Tate’s.

Today, companies run by women are entering the middle market at rates 8 times that of businesses in general. According to Hendrickson, women in leadership positions are helping expand companies’ knowledge bases, and providing them with new and different perspectives.



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