Get the Facts on Women-Owned Businesses

If women-owned businesses that are based in the U.S. were their own country, they would have the 5th largest GDP in the world, trailing closely behind Germany and ahead of global players like France, the United Kingdom, and Italy. They generate over $1.6 trillion in revenues annually, yet only 38 percent of all U.S. firms are women-owned.

The Montana WBC helps anyone who needs it, but focuses on women. But why is there a program focused on women entrepreneurs in particular?

Although more women are becoming entrepreneurs and the social norms are shifitng, women still face some unique challenges. The most commonly cited issues that we hear from clients and that were listed in a 2016 Business News Daily article are:

  • Social expectations
  • Limited access to funding (Half of all women business owners sought capital from banks in 2009; unfortunately, they averaged four attempts before securing loans or lines of credit.)
  • Owning accomplishments
  • Balancing business and family life
  • Accessing and creating support networks, advisors, and mentors
  • Overcoming fear of failure

Also, women's earnings are not yet equal:

  • As of 2015 Montana ranks 45th nationally for women's employment and earnings; women's median annual earnings for full-time, year-round workers was $31,600.
  • Montana women who work full-time, year-round earn 75 cents on the dollar compared with similarly employed men.

We have an exciting opportunity to improve Montana's economy by focusing on women:

  • Between 2007 and 2016, when the total number of businesses in the United States increased by 9%, the number of women-owned firms increased by 45% - a rate five times the national average. During the same time frame, there was an estimated 33% increase in the number of women-owned businesses in Montana. As of 2016 there were an estimated 11.3 million women-owned firms in the United States.
  • Roughly 32 percent of all businesses in the state were women-owned as of 2012, a number which has grown from about 15 percent since 2000. The state remains roughly four percent behind the already-low national figure. Prospera Business Network believes we can do better than those national rates.
  • In 2012, there were 35,449 women-owned businesses in the state. Of those firms, 5,633 had paid employees. Estimated figures for 2016 put the number of women-owned businesses in Montana at 37,300.
  • Women-owned firms accounted for 38% of all enterprises nationwide as of 2012, and are growing faster in number and employment than most other firms. Despite this fact, women-owned firms employ only 8% of the country’s workforce and contribute just under 4% of business revenues—roughly the same share they contributed in 1997.

To Prospera Business Network, this represents a grand opportunity. We have identified women entrepreneurs as a priority because we know this cluster of small business owners is full of potential.  By supporting women in business with entrepreneurial counseling, training, networking, and mentoring programs, we can empower their self-sufficiency and growth, and that helps our organization reach our vision of creating healthy, sustainable business communities.

Data Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 Survey of Business Owners, womenable's "The 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.”, The Status of Women in the States report by the Institute for Women's Policy Research, Women Impacting Public Policy, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Institute for Women's Public Policy Research