Trends and Statistics for Women in Business

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There are exciting things happening in the world of women entrepreneurs. Women are now the dominant force in small business ownership and succeeding in industries that were once taboo for women.

By studying industries, sales trends, and other important statistics, you can make better business decisions now, and viable plans for future growth.

Women Are Not Only Starting Businesses, They Are Staying in Business

Between 1997 and 2006, businesses fully women-owned, or majority-owned by women, grew at nearly twice the rate of all U.S. firms (42.3% vs. 23.3%). During this same time period, employment among women-owned firms grew 0.4%, and annual sales grew 4.4%.

In 2006, reports on women-owned (or majority owned by women) in the United States returned the following impressive statistics:

  • There were an estimated 10.4 million privately-held firms;
  • This accounted for two in five (40.2%) of all businesses in the country; and
  • These firms generated $1.9 trillion in annual sales and employed 12.8 million people nationwide.

How to Use Business Statistics to Start or Grow a Business

Whether you are writing a business plan, feasibility study, advertising, and marketing campaign, or even still deciding on what kind of business to start, start by looking at what is already happening in the field or industry you are interested in.

Business trends and statistics can give you a quick, overall glance at the viability of an industry, and how well women are already doing in that industry. Statistics are not magic formulas for success, but they can give you important clues about how others are succeeding - or failing.

The following statistics can be useful in helping you come up with new business ideas, in developing strategies and marketing campaigns, and even help you identify professional organizations and networks to focus on for developing leads and new contacts:

  • Statistics on the Rapid Growth of the Number of Women-Owned Businesses: These statistics show where women's businesses have experienced rapid growth in certain industries. This information can help you decide on a new business, or if your business should branch out into new territory.
  • You can also study general employment growth statistics for similar purposes. Industries that are hiring the most workers may also have the most opportunities for business owners.
  • Industries Where the Most Government Contracts Are Awarded to WOB: The Government contracting arena is highly competitive. Although Federal law requires that certified women-owned businesses receive at least 5% of all Federal contracts, less than 3.2% of all contracts are awarded to women.
  • If you research where women have historically been granted the highest number of Federal contracts you can see two things: where women are favored, and where women may be able to break into an untapped market.
  • Jobs That Are Paying Women the Most Money: Industries that pay women the most money are also ones where women are finding better opportunities. There are many industries where it is still a "good-ol' boys' network" that could make things harder even for the most talented businesswoman. To break into a male-dominated industry is not impossible, but may require additional skills, marketing, capital, and networking.


    "National Numbers: Women-Owned Businesses in the United States - 2006." Center for Women's Business Research. Accessed: April 23, 2008