On International Women’s Day, March 8, what do women in business think about the state of women entrepreneurship? Thanks to technological advances that have increased the ability to work remotely and an increased access to capital, it may be easier for women to make their dreams a reality. In fact, as women continue to define and create their own careers and set off on their own courses, there has never been a better time to be a woman entrepreneur, believes Darnyelle A. Jervey, owner of Incredible One Enterprises.
“Women are traditionally known as the head decision-makers in a family, so as more women leverage their gifts in the form of entrepreneurship, the more value will be added to the marketplace," Jervey says. "I see women becoming more business savvy, confident and focused on leveraging their business platform to usher true change into business.”
I spoke to several female small-business owners and thought leaders to hear their views on the state of women in business and issues like gender parity, as well as the changes they see in store for women entrepreneurs.
“It is becoming the norm to see women owning their own businesses in America, and the opportunities are growing. There are many more resources to help women get started in business and stay in business for a long time. In recent years, gender inequality in the workplace has changed, and women have proven themselves to be just as qualified and can be easily as successful as their male counterparts.”—Gabrielle Edwards, owner and head buyer, Mixology Clothing Company
“There have always been women starting small businesses in their communities. Now, however, even more women are founding businesses, and those companies are growing faster than ever before. This is partly due to the fact that technology has lowered the cost of starting many types of high-growth businesses. It is also due to more women deciding to pursue their visions and leading teams to execute them. Access to capital for women entrepreneurs seeking to build businesses is more readily available in the U.S. than elsewhere, though progress still needs to be made. As businesses founded by and run by women continue to demonstrate success, access to capital will improve and more women will start companies nationally and internationally.”—Sara Schaer, co-founder and CEO of Kango
Growing Sense of Community
“What is very exciting is that there is a strong sense of community surrounding women entrepreneurs. There are growing resources geared toward women starting their own businesses and investors that specifically seek to support women-owned and operated companies. As a recent entrepreneur, I have been welcomed into a network of strong women supporting one another and sharing their experiences so we can all learn, provide feedback and grow our businesses together. The number of women small-business owners will only continue to grow over the coming years. As the resources and funding for women continue to expand, there will be fewer barriers to entry, and more women will be able to start up their own companies.”—Jane Wu Brower, CEO and founder of Goalposte
“I'm encouraged by how many more female founders I meet every year in every industry, from design to fintech to biotech. As a young female founder, it was hard to find a group of like-minded women to mentor and support me—the competition was fierce and the successful female founders were few. I've seen that change dramatically in the last decade and believe it's a trend we can expect to continue. I'm also energized by the peer support and camaraderie that seems to have accelerated as the number of female founders continues to grow.”—Lauren Perkins, CEO and founder of Perks Consulting
“I am convinced that mentoring and sponsoring are the keys to promoting women entrepreneurs. We, women and men together, must act. It’s important to remember that when women succeed, we all win."—Martine Liautaud, founding partner of Liautaud & Cie, founder of the Women Business Mentoring Initiative in France and the recently formed Women Initiative Foundation and author of BREAKING THROUGH: Stories and Best Practices From Companies That Help Women Succeed
“I think the biggest thing that has changed for women business owners is that they support one another. They realize that success doesn't happen in isolation and that support and collaboration are key. Women are sharing contacts, resources, knowledge, introductions and money, and there is a flow around creating business in a way that I haven't experienced in my previous work history. To keep the flow open, we need to reach down to the younger women and even girls and pull them up the ladder as we go along, through mentoring, coaching and encouragement."—Jacquie Jordan, Emmy nominated TV producer and author of Get on TV!
“It's important to have a strong female base that is supportive and understanding of what it takes to be a #BossBabe. Our firm is part of a great female-run social club [RIOT Social Club] that inspires women entrepreneurs to 'Connect, Create and Collaborate' with each other.”—Vickie Brett, founding partner of Selogie and Brett, LLP
More Internal and External Acceptance
“As a female entrepreneur and small-business owner for 25 years, it has become easier to be accepted in my profession. In the beginning, I was one of a few women professional speakers, coaches and thought leaders in business, so it was difficult. Now I find the less I focus on the gender issue, the less of an issue it is. When I see a conference where the speaker roster is male-centric, rather than see it as an exclusion of a talented female speaker, I see it as an opportunity to put my name into the mix, and they typically welcome me to join the lineup. The biggest change I see is women developing new patterns of thought and belief systems around their capabilities—rather than their gender. In my teaching, success is an inside job. We experience what we believe about ourselves, because we project those beliefs into our experiences.”—Deborah Peters, business coach with Neuro Engineering Institute
“To close the gender gap faster, women must make it a priority to become aware of their mental obstacles and then work to tirelessly eradicate them. We tend to just believe what we believe without ever challenging that belief. And beliefs aren’t logical. Of course a woman should be paid the same amount for same work. But women still have a hard time pushing back and drawing the line. Why? That is the question. Why do we still have a hard time feeling good about demanding what we deserve? Because on some level, we have a belief about what is right, accepted and moral behavior for the female species. And no matter how much we talk about the gender gap, nothing will change very fast until we identify and remove the belief that says we can’t or we shouldn’t.”—DeDe Murcer Moffett, international speaker and author of SNAP Yes! The Art of Seeing New Achievable Possibilities in Business and Life
Women Bring Something Different
“It’s no surprise that women think differently and communicate differently than men. In many ways, this can be an advantage for women entrepreneurs. In the financial services industry, for example, women entrepreneurs are still the minority. The industry is changing, and there is a need for relationships and interpersonal communication that extends beyond the traditional scope of financial planning. With the increasing presence of robo-advisors in the financial services industry, being competitive means doing the things that the low-cost robo-advisor can’t do, which includes high levels of customer service, understanding the hopes and dreams of the clients and being able to add value through education and family interaction. Women are good at creating and maintaining relationships, and in my industry, that gives women entrepreneurs advantage and ongoing opportunity.”—Jennifer Landon, Southeast Idaho’s founder and president of Journey Financial Services
“Women have a statistically higher emotional intelligence quotient. If we use this to our advantage in the boardroom as we do at home, we're unstoppable. Ever tried to get something past your mom? Exactly. There is nothing like a woman’s intuition.”—Nina Ojeda, CEO and founder of The Avenue West
“Women not only bring a feminine view, but a minority view to occupations such as in STEM, which are in very high demand. Having this kind of foundation—the brainpower and her own financial base—can lead to opportunities to break out and start a business based on solving a problem and/or providing a service around her passion.”—Sofia Milan, consultant, author and speaker
Success Breeds Success
"I spent most of my young adult life in the entertainment industry and started on the path at a young age. I thought what I was experiencing was ageism, but it wasn't until I hit my mid to late 30s that I realized it had never been ageism, but was always sexism. There are more and more empowered women who have no fears of jumping in and starting their own business. The more of these we see, the more successes there are.”—Shawn Simons, owner of Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats
“According to Mercer's 2016 'When Women Thrive' study, Latin America is the only region on track to closing gender parity at the professional level by 2025. Organizations recognize that women offer a different skill set that is needed, yet only 22 percent of North American organizations report equal representation of women in functional jobs. In many instances, this is a training issue and will take many years to turn around. If you're a woman and don't want to wait around for organizational change, take action yourself. Start your own business. It's a huge amount of work, but you will be 100 percent in the driver's seat, and the rewards are exceptional. I have owned my own consulting firm for almost 35 years. I have always been respected and treated as an equal with men in similar businesses."—Elaine Biech, president of ebb associates
Read more articles about women in business.