October 21, 2016
National Women’s Business Week
Back in 1928 a celebration began to honor business women. Think about it- 1928! The celebration is attributed to Emma Dot Partridge who was the executive secretary for the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs from 1924 through 1927. It is held the third week of October each year. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is also in on the celebration as October is National Women’s Small Business Month. This month it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988 that established the Women’s Business Center Program and the National Women’s Business Council.
Despite what some would have you believe there has never been a better time to be a woman in business. The statistics don’t lie. Women-owned and operated small businesses are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in America today. In fact, the rate of growth for female-owned businesses is almost four times the rate of male-owned companies. American Express conducts an annual report called the State of Women-Owned Businesses. The most recent one shows “Between 2007 and 2016, the number of female-owned firms has grown at a rate five times faster than the national average.”
Yes, there are still hurdles to overcome. Women business owners have difficulty accessing capital and some reports say loan approval rates for women entrepreneurs is less than for their male counterparts by about 15 percent. It wasn’t easy when I started either and there were very few women I knew who headed companies or were starting their own enterprises.
A lot has changed, and today there are many women who are role models and resources to assist budding entrepreneurs and second-stage business owners. I am concerned, however, that some women are still living in the past, and believe companies and organizations need to change or “lean in” so they can be successful. I believe just the opposite. I believe women are more than capable of finding their own way. Yes, business is competitive. The business climate is changing every day. Running a successful business is tough; I know because I have done it. There were certainly days when I was tired, discouraged, and overwhelmed. But, I didn’t give up and I believe the sacrifice and struggle has been worth the effort. So I encourage other women to step up and step out to form their own businesses. I also offer a toast to all of the successful women who have stayed in it for the long-haul and are providing meaningful work for others. Running a small business has taught us to be tough, given us confidence and courage, and financial reward, too.
Happy National Women’s Small Business Month. Go ahead and celebrate. You deserve it.