Survey: Female entrepreneurs take risks, are educated, and have borrowing power

RSM McGladrey has announced results of its Survey of Women Business Owners. The 2007 survey is the third survey sponsored by RSM McGladrey, the nation's fifth largest tax, accounting, and business consulting firm. The Chicago Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, who was a co-sponsor last year, the University of Chicago, and the Committee of 200, an international membership organization offering top business owners and corporate women support, mentoring, education and recognition, joined RSM McGladrey as co-sponsors of the 2007 survey.

Last year’s survey provided insights into the nature of businesses that are owned by women and the challenges they were facing. Professionals and academics found it useful for understanding this market in greater depth in order to better serve women entrepreneurs. In addition, women business organizations looked to last year’s survey as a benchmark to track the progress of and the issues facing women business owners.

The 2007 survey is an attempt to build upon the insights of the first survey. The scope is more ambitious. The sample size is much larger and it is national, rather than regional, in scope. In addition, this year’s survey asks more questions about qualitative issues such as the factors that have been most influential to business success.

There is a series of questions similar to last year’s survey which allow trend analyses. However, a significant portion of the 2007 survey delves into greater detail on specific issues in order to obtain more in-depth knowledge. These issue areas are: the risk profile of women entrepreneurs, management structure of women-owned businesses, and access to debt and equity capital.

The survey polled 650 respondents across the country, which included 609 small business owners with anywhere from 1 - 100 employees.

Some of the statistics from the survey include:

  • They are more educated: 40 percent of women business owners have a post-graduate education, compared with only 9 percent of the entire female labor force.

  • They have a family life and run a business: 68 percent are married, higher than the national average of 53 percent for working women. Additionally, 67 percent of those surveyed have children.

  • They take more risks: 60 percent of women surveyed would use up to 95 percent of their personal savings or put up their home as collateral for a loan to start or expand their business.

  • They have been successful for some time: More than 60 percent of the businesses surveyed have been in operation six or more years, higher than the 40 percent reported through other surveys for all businesses.

  • They started young: 40 percent of businesses with more than $6 million in revenue were started by women between the ages of 20 and 29.

  • They can get financed: Less than 6 percent have gone to a bank and never been able to receive financing.

    You can read the complete survey results.


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