More Women Are Pursuing Entrepreneurship Than Ever. Let's Work to Keep It That Way

By Elizabeth Gore

Photo credit: Getty Images

Each year, when the calendar turns to March and we all celebrate Women's History Month, I take a moment to remember that I'm part of a special and growing class of small- business owners. It's easy to forget that had I been born just a few years earlier, I might not have been able to co-found my own company. In fact, the number of women who own a business has increased a staggering 3,000 percent in the past 50 years alone.

By founding our own businesses, women get to pursue their dreams, make their own money, be their own bosses, and build a world where women finally get the respect and opportunity they've always deserved. That's a powerful thing!

With women at the heart of the new majority of entrepreneurs, Hello Alice closely tracks the challenges, needs, and sentiments of female small-business owners. Our latest temperature check draws from anonymous owner data and survey insights from the nearly 400,000 women on Hello Alice. In short: The future looks bright for female entrepreneurs -- but it's not guaranteed.

As we continue the Women's History Month celebration, here are three takeaways to keep in mind as we work to ensure a world where every daughter has the same opportunity to pursue her dreams as any son.

The pandemic actually spurred a huge rise in entrepreneurship, specifically for women.

For a while, it seemed like the sky was falling as the pandemic pushed women out of the workforce in record numbers. It was only a year ago when I wrote about the potential "she-cession" after we recorded the lowest level of workforce participation among women in a generation, largely because women bore the brunt of caregiving responsibilities during the pandemic's shutdown phases. Then came the so-called Great Resignation, during which workers were ditching their subpar working conditions in droves to pursue other opportunities, including entrepreneurship.

Both trends have produced a wave of new small businesses. Census figures show the U.S. ended 2021 with business creation at a record high. Hello Alice data supports this, with 30 percent of all small businesses on our platform founded during the pandemic years. Best of all: We found that women are founding companies at significantly higher rates than men.

As foretold, entrepreneurship has served as a lifeboat that everyone -- particularly women -- turns to in times of upheaval. These new businesses harness women's talents, create new jobs, and deliver solutions that make our communities and lives better. Going forward, the work will be nurturing these seeds of economic independence so that women can sustain themselves, shatter glass ceilings, and close the opportunity gap once and for all.

Female entrepreneurs have moved from crisis mode to growth mode.

Every day can feel like a new crisis. Between new coronavirus variants, supply chain issues, inflation, and now global unrest, small-business owners have had to adapt to unprecedented circumstances. New entrepreneurs, many of whom are women, now face the challenge of pivoting their fledgling businesses away from danger and toward opportunity. Amazingly, it looks like female small-business owners have succeeded at this. According to Hello Alice data, day-to-day operations have declined as a top concern for women owners, from 27 percent in early 2020 to less than 10 percent at the end of 2021.

One takeaway is that women have simply adapted to become more nimble. Rather than dwell on the latest crisis, they are looking for ways to forge ahead. Women told us their top concerns are growth, marketing, hiring, and raising capital -- not survival. We need to reward women's growth mindset with growth opportunities. Don't just shop small; buy from women. Spread the word about opportunities, such as Digitalundivided's catalyst programs, Fearless Fund's Strivers Grant, and Hello Alice's Small Business Boost Camp, that mentor and fund promising female entrepreneurs. 

Finally: Women are optimistic that blue skies are ahead. Let's invest in their future now.

For the moment, the threat of the virus has receded, and business optimism has rebounded. In total, 81 percent of women owners told us that they expect their business to grow in 2022. But that will be possible only if we continue to find ways to connect them with the capital they need to survive and weather the next crisis that's already on its way.

I applaud Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) for her pledge to introduce a bill providing women greater access to the Small Business Administration's venture capital fund. As part of the Year of Small Business movement, my company continues to connect women with the grants and loans they need to succeed.

Countless women have made it through hell and high water to build their businesses so far. Let's reward that tenacity by continuing to show up and support them.

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