By Victoria Compton, EDC director
Special to the Journal
As the most recent US Census shows, women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar that men earn. While some of that is attributable to the fact that women are often employed in lower-wage industries, when all variables are controlled for (hours worked, college major, employment sector), women still earn nearly 10 percent less than men in identical positions.
With statistics like that, it’s easy to see why women are heading to the business license office in droves. And for the past 20 years, women have been doing just that: locally and nationally, they’ve been starting businesses at a much higher rate than men.
Nationally, women-run businesses will create over half of the 10 million new small business jobs expected in the next 5 years. In comparison, by late-Great-recession only about 16 percent of jobs were created by women-owned businesses in the US.
Women entrepreneurs learned a lot during this past recession. Some of the key business strategies that women business owners employed to weather those tough times:
• Using social media as a business tool. Women were already by far the majority of social media site users. In fact, there’s been a 50% increase in social media marketing by women-owned businesses during the past three years.
• To weather the recession, women entrepreneurs tended to reduce the number of hours worked by their employees instead of laying them off, which meant that when the economy picked up, they didn’t have to start from scratch with a new workforce.
• During the recession, 40 percent of women-owned businesses increased their involvement with civic, social and many women entrepreneurs learned early-on how important this form of customer communication can be. And school activities, which fostered their businesses, increased exposure for themselves as community entrepreneurs, and created value for their communities.
Thinking about starting a business or taking your business to the next level as a woman entrepreneur? Here are some tips:
• Ask for help! I’m putting that in full caps, because so many women entrepreneurs won’t ask for help. Each day’s baby – because they don’t know whom to ask, because they don’t want to be a bother, or because they’re just too busy running their businesses to stop to ask. I’m here to tell you that there’s help out there for you – people who really want to see you thrive and succeed. Call me. Or ask a successful woman entrepreneur for insight. Or go to a Soroptimist meeting – the collective entrepreneurship knowledge there is tremendous.
• You need to have a marketing plan to succeed in business. If you have one but haven’t looked at it in a while (over a year), you need to rethink it – marketing platforms are changing at a phenomenal rate (done anything on Vine lately?).
• Write down your dream. Then take one tiny step every single day to realize that dream. The first step can be something as simple as Googling business loans created specifically for women-owned small businesses.
Right now is a great time for women to start businesses – loan rates are low and the economy is picking up. Few events are as exciting as starting a business, and few occupations more fulfilling than piloting your own financial ship through the ocean of life.