Women-owned business booms

In the past year, the number of women-owned companies has risen by 200,000, translating to a little less than 550 new women-owned firms per day. As of 2012, it's estimated there are more than 8.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States, generating nearly $1.3 trillion in revenues and employing nearly 7.7 million people, according to a new report commissioned by American Express OPEN.

Over the past 15 years, the number of women-owner businesses has surged 54 percent, according to a new report commissioned by American Express OPEN. Employment is up 9 percent and revenues have jumped 58 percent. These rates exceed the growth rates of all but the largest, publicly-traded firms, the study found.

“Even as women-owned firms continue to grow in number at rates exceeding the national average, enterprises at the $250,000 to $499,999 revenue mark are at a turning point in their development,” said Susan Sobbott, president of American Express OPEN. “In order to further advance and grow these businesses, new management tools must be implemented.”

The rate of business development under female ownership has grown 1.5 times faster than the national average. The figures show that between 1997 and 2012, the number of businesses in the United States increased by 37 percent versus 54 percent for the number of women-owned firms.

Women-owned firms are just as likely as all firms to generate in excess of half a million dollars in revenues annually in two industries: construction, where 13 percent of women-owned firms and 11 percent of all construction firms are pulling in more than $500,000 per year; and in transportation and warehousing, where 6 percent of each are generating $500,000 or more in revenues.

More findings:

  • Women-owned firms are exceeding overall sector growth rates in seven of the 13 most populous (largest by number of businesses) industries: wholesale trade; finance and insurance; other services; real estate; health care and social assistance; construction and arts/entertainment/recreation;
  • Looking at the growth in the number of women-owned firms, comparing the 1997-2002 and 2007-2012 time periods, reveals that one of the biggest challenges for any small business is growing beyond the $250,000 to $499,999 revenue mark and at the 5 to 9 employee size class. Statistics show this revenue mark to be a particularly difficult hurdle for women-owned enterprises and as a result they perform below national averages.
  • In that same analysis, women-owned firms in the 2007-2012 period show stronger relative growth than do women-owned firms in the earlier period at the very highest revenue category – $1,000,000 and above.

Geographic Trends

The states with the fastest growth in the number of women-owned firms during the past 15 years:

    1. Georgia (95%)
    2. Nevada (92%)
    3. North Carolina (83%)
    4. Mississippi (75%)
    5. Texas (75%)
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