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Women-owned businesses account for 31 percent of all privately-held firms in the United States, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners. While this is far from equal gender representation, the number of women in business continues to increase every year. –

To learn more about the women of Main Street America and trends, Guidant Financial partnered with online lending marketplace Lending Club to conduct its annual State of Small Business survey. We received over 2,600 responses from current and aspiring business owners and found that women business owners have significant differences from their male counterparts, especially when it comes to their demographics, challenges they face and their confidence in the current state of small business.

Here’s a look at some of the most impactful trends about women in business for 2018:

  • The number of women in business is increasing. Twenty-six percent of respondents identified as female in our 2018 survey— an 18 percent increase in the number of women business owners year over year.
  • Women don’t ignore their calling: While both men and women had similar reasons for embarking on business ownership (including wanting to be their own boss and growing tired of the corporate grind), the top answer for women was ‘wanting to pursue their passion.’ So you can expect to see women staying very involved in their business after setting up shop.
  • Women pursue business ownership earlier: Women are typically starting businesses earlier in life than men. More than half of female respondents in our survey were under 50, while only 44 percent of male respondents were in the same group. Though there was a wide variety of men and women in every age group, women had a larger representation in younger brackets compared to men.
  • The majority of woman-owned businesses are led by college graduates: There was also a significant difference between men and women when asked about their highest level of education. For women, the largest group of respondents — at 32 percent — had earned a Bachelor’s degree, while for male respondents, the largest group (37 percent) had only a high school diploma or GED.
  • Politics impact men and women differently: It’s no surprise that in a year of political turbulence, the first ever Women’s March and #metoo, that men and women had varying opinions on the presidential administration. Female business owners reported feeling significantly less confident in the political state of small business than their male counterparts. The average confidence level for women was a 7 out of 10, while men had an average confidence rating of 8 out of 10.
  • Fewer female entrepreneurs secure SBA business loans. Even though SBA loans were among the most popular financing methods pursued by aspiring female entrepreneurs, only 6 percent of women in business reported actually getting an SBA loan.
  • Men and women business owners have similar happiness ratings. One of the most exciting statistics about small business revealed both men and women report the same happiness as entrepreneurs — a positive omen that business ownership is truly for everyone, and we can expect to see strides toward equal representation.


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