Female Start-ups Set Fast Pace

November 11, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Start-ups owned by women have grown by double digits annually in the past three years, outpacing growth in the 1990s and out-numbering male-owned initiatives nearly two-to-one in 2003.

Almost a third of women surveyed say they have started their businesses since 2001, and 9.8% report they have launched their current enterprise this year. In contrast, 5.1% of businesses owned by male survey respondents have been started in 2003, according to a poll conducted by the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE).

On the other hand, nearly a quarter (22.5%) of those women business owners report their businesses are part-time pursuits; double the level of male-owned businesses that are part-time.

Six in 10 self-employed women have had to switch careers and half say they are working harder than they were five years ago to start and sustain their own ventures. However, the NASE found this a trade-off most are happy to make to better accommodate the needs of their families and other interests. Chief motivations are more time with and a focus on family and community, as well as greater flexibility in managing their households. Adding to the equation are technology advancements and accepted workplace trends that enable individuals to work virtually from any location, the NASE found.

The tradeoff and happiness may also be a motivating factor for the more than six out of 10 surveyed that do not anticipate ever taking full-time retirement.

Not All Equal

Even though new female entrepreneurs may outnumber male entrepreneurs, the average income for self-employed women is only $38,640, versus $54,260 for men. Further, nearly 45.0% of female respondents report making an income of less than $25,000, while only 24.6% of male respondents are at this level. In contrast, 26.1% of men surveyed report making $75,000 and up, twice the number of women who report reaching this income level. More than a third (36.6%) of women surveyed believe they face barriers to their success based on gender.

The lower level of pay is not a deterrent however, as female entrepreneurs express greater commitment than male in sticking with their self-employment plan over the long-haul, regardless of other attractive career opportunities that might come along. More than a quarter (26.6%) of women surveyed say they would not consider closing their businesses even if another desirable job came their way. Only 17% of men are so solidly behind working for themselves.

The NASE poll was developed to assess trends pertaining to self-employment and micro-business (fewer than 10 employees) ownership in the United States. More than 1,065 female and men micro-business owners participated in the Internet-based survey, which was fielded September 26-October 5, 2003.