Women Start Businesses at Twice the Rate Men Do

Women are taking the lead when it comes to starting businesses. However, far too few of the businesses they start crack through the $1 million revenue barrier. Some new research points at ways to remedy that situation.

Professional services firm EY said that its EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women program conducted by Babson College’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership has shown real progress in helping women-owned businesses to break into the middle market ranks.

According to the firm’s research, women start businesses at twice the rate of men, but only 2% of female-owned businesses exceed $1 million in revenue.  Businesses owned by men are 3.5 times more likely to break $1 million than their women-owned counterparts.

EY said that participants in its seven-year-old Entrepreneurial Winning Women program are in the top 2% of women entrepreneurs in terms of revenue. The firm said that 50% of current participants boast of revenues exceeding $10 million. Some are nearing the $100 million mark, the firm said.

So, what is this program doing to help women entrepreneurs succeed?

EY said that the program has identified certain advantages that help women entrepreneurs succeed: a strong community and a flexible, adaptive leadership style. The program seeks to play on those strengths, helping these businesswomen to raise funds more easily, expand their networks and increase the media visibility of their businesses.

Perhaps the two greatest advantages a program like this imparts involve networking, and confidence-building. Call these the “people” aspects of business strategy. Relationships – both within the business and outside – are the key to gaining ideas, allies and strong teams.

It’s interesting to see the advent of programs like EY’s, which are focused on helping women grow their existing businesses, rather than helping them start businesses. It signals that women entrepreneurs have really come of age, and are ready to take the next steps in business growth.


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