A recent report by SCORE, The Megaphone of Main Street: Women’s Entrepreneurship, assesses the landscape of women-owned small businesses. Its insights show an exciting picture of female entrepreneurship — one that is evolving in some new and unexpected ways.
As a female entrepreneur who launched her first business when it was still unusual for women to do so, I am always delighted to witness how far my gender has come — even while acknowledging progress yet to be made.
Here are a few of the findings that stood out most from the SCORE report, and what I think they mean for female small business owners and entrepreneurship more generally.
1. Women are launching more startups in healthcare and education
According to the report, women are more likely than men to start businesses in both healthcare and education, two industries in which excellence is vital to societal health. Says the report, “Only 5% of men are likely to start a business in either the healthcare or education fields, while 10% of women are likely to start a business in healthcare and 9% are inclined to start a business in education.”
Healthcare and education are in need of improvement in America in the private and public sector, and I make it a point to support charities and foundation that seek to help. The fact that women are inclined to start businesses in these fields bodes well for some of the neediest among us — young people, the hurt, and the sick.
2. More women started businesses than men
One finding I found surprising was that, in 2017, more women than men started businesses. While the degree to which they are exceeding men in this area is slight, it is still indicative of the passion for entrepreneurship that has been ignited lately in women and girls.
Specifically, SCORE found that 47% of the women surveyed started a business in 2017 while only 44% of men reported doing so. While they do not speculate on the reason for this discrepancy, I think we can credit it in part to a business climate that is more friendly to female entrepreneurs than ever before.
3. Women-owned businesses are comparable to men’s in most ways
Sure, more women than men started businesses, and the industries they started businesses in differed as well. You might think that there would be other discrepancies in factors like success rate and funding, but SCORE did not find that was the case.
Female entrepreneurs were about as successful as their male counterparts when it came to revenue expectations, longevity, hiring, and overall reported success. This last point was a bit surprising to me because of the well-documented confidence gap between men and women, not to mention the pay gap, which you would think would leave women less satisfied. It may be that the combination of these issues makes for differing versions of what success looks like, reported at a roughly equal rate.
4. Mentorship makes a difference
SCORE’s report validates the benefits of mentorship they regularly espouse in their effort to connect like-minded businesspeople. As it turns out, having a professional mentor will tip the odds of success in your favor by a surprising amount.
Entrepreneurs with mentors were, in fact, five times more likely to successfully start a business. Gender, though, did not influence mentorship success by much. To get granular, women with female mentors do seem to feel more respected, listened to, and given more time relevant advice than those with male mentors — though only by a few small percentage points.
It’s clear that any mentor is an advantage for any prospective business owner, and most likely it comes down to the individual more than gender when identifying a good match.
SCORE’s report makes clear that women across America are stepping up and succeeding, but (as it should be!) they are not doing it alone.