Believe it or not, Americas first successful female entrepreneur was an orphan born to freed slaves. Sarah Breedlove (1867-1919) was celebrated as the country’s first female self-made millionaire, according to her New York Times obituary. She invented and sold homemade hair-care products to black women through the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company. Breedlove built a factory, a laboratory and a beauty school to train sales agents. Equally important, she went on to become a philanthropist, social and political activist for underserved communities.
From Martha Stewart, who became America’s first self-made woman billionaire in 2000, to relentless moguls like Oprah and Rihanna, women have made strides in the world of business ownership. In its latest list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, Forbes highlights trailblazing women, a majority of whom are entrepreneurs, worth a collective $90 billion.
Of course, you need not make this exclusive Forbes list to revel in the satisfaction of being a self-made woman. Whether you own a local salon, cafe or retail store; run your own crafts shop on Etsy; or are a self-employed accountant or writer who works from home, the stats below will inspire you to join the 1.1 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. economy. Some stats are inspiring, while others might serve as motivation to stay on path, and beat the odds.
State of Women In Small Business
- The Big Picture: Overall, 21 percent of employer businesses had majority female ownership, employing 9.4 million workers at a total annual payroll of $318 billion and amassing $1.5 trillion in total annual receipts.
- Women are Job Creators: On average, a woman-owned firm had $1.8 million in annual sales and employed eight workers.
- Overall, 21 percent of employer businesses had majority female ownership, employing 9.4 million workers at a total annual payroll of $318 billion and amassing $1.5 trillion in total annual receipts.
- Small Business Boom: Small businesses constitute the majority of these women-owned firms with 99.9 percent of female-owned employer businesses having fewer than 500 employees.
State of Women In Startups
- Room for Improvement in Silicon Valley: While women are increasingly thriving in the small business and local economy, we have ways to go in the tech and startup world. Covid-19 affected the progress women have made in recent years. In 2020, funding to female founders is down 31% from 2019 while funding for all-male teams dropped by just 16%. The $13.75 billion raised across 1,702 deals in 2020 represents 23.3% of total VC financing activity.According to TechCrunch: “Despite efforts from female founders, venture capitalists and diversity advocates in Silicon Valley and beyond, female entrepreneurs continue to struggle to raise as much capital as their male counterparts. The lack of equity in VC is in part caused by the lack of women on the other side of the table; venture capital funds still employ very few women.” https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/09/us-vc-investment-in-female-founders-hits-all-time-high/
New, comprehensive research from the World Bank, OECD and Facebook on the state of female entrepreneurship shows that women-led businesses around the world are driving economic growth and creating jobs. Below are some of the top findings:
- Women-led businesses are thriving on a global scale, but we have further to go: Around the world, a substantial proportion of small businesses are owned and led by women. In the 95 countries surveyed, nearly 4 in 10 (39%) of people identifying as owners or managers of small businesses on Facebook are women.
- Women mentoring and supporting other women leads to progress: Across 95 countries surveyed, more than 2 in 3 (67%) female business owners state that they have a role model. Female entrepreneurs not only benefit from having role models, they serve as role models themselves. In fact, 70% of female business owners’ mentors are other women.
Progress for Diversity & Inclusion
Although minorities and women continue to fight for lending and support to launch and grow their companies, entrepreneurs of color continue to embark on entrepreneurship at increasing rates in the U.S.
- The Fastest-Growing Segment: Women are outpacing men by launching new businesses almost 2x as often.
- 64% of new women-owned businesses were started by women of color last year. Latina women-owned businesses grew more than 87%.
- The Mom Economy: Supporting women-owned businesses likely means supporting a family and children. Moms own 33% (3 million) of all U.S. Small Businesses.