Women Are Taking the Lead as Majority Owners of Mid-Market Businesses

Women are becoming majority owners of midsized businesses at a breakneck pace. Their rate of ownership grew at one-and-a-half times the national average between 1997 and 2014, according to the 2014 State of Women-Owned Business report commissioned by American Express OPEN.

These women are majority owners in nearly one in three firms in the U.S. It’s estimated that, as of 2014, there are nearly 9.1 million women-owned enterprises, employing nearly 7.9 million workers and generating over $1.4 trillion in revenues.

There’s more to this than the sheer volume, as these midsized businesses are highly successful. The study finds that women-owned firms are the growth leaders in eight out of the 13 top industries, including financial management (Morning Star Financial Services in Minnesota), workforce solutions (Pinnacle Technical Resources in Dallas) and much more.  These successes convert readily into dollars and jobs, as in 2014, the 50 Fastest growing firms generated a combined revenue of $4.4 billion and employed more than 31,000 people.

“Women are believed to be more honest and ethical than men.”

What’s contributing to the growing success of women-owned businesses? In a PayPal study of women entrepreneurs, women say their top 5 reasons to start a new business are to follow a passion, the belief they can be successful, to seek independence, to make more money and to have control over their life. Their top five hopes for the business are to have a work-life balance, have control of their future, take pride in themselves, be financially successful, and the notion that work doesn’t feel like work anymore.

What success secrets do women leaders appear to have in common? The Pew Research Center study on Women and Leadership finds that women are believed to be more honest and ethical than men, as 31% of respondents say women are stronger at this versus 3% that say men are more honest and ethical. In addition, 30% say women are better at providing fair pay and benefits, while 5% say men are.

Also, there are shared character traits which help to set successful women business leaders apart. Rosa Alfonso-McGoldrick, VP at American Express Global Corporate payments, says, “They are very good at creating advisory boards and [cultivating others’] expertise to help them grow. They want to have advisors.”



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