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Women Business Owners Insights and Trends: Guidant’s 2024 Small Business Trends Study

Explore the Women in Business report: key challenges, emerging trends, and insights shaping the success of women-owned businesses.
Small Business Trends Women in Business - Guidant Financial

Welcome to a celebration of strength, innovation, and resilience in the American economy, as led by women entrepreneurs. Women-owned small businesses are not only flourishing; they are redefining the entrepreneurial landscape, turning challenges into opportunities, and setting new benchmarks in a diverse array of industries, from retail to health and wellness.

According to Guidant Financial’s 2024 Small Business Trends Women in Business Study, these businesses are more than just surviving; they’re thriving and growing in profitability. However, the road to success is rarely straightforward, especially for women entrepreneurs who frequently encounter unique hurdles that can complicate their entrepreneurial journey.

In this blog post, we dive deep into the Women in Business report from Guidant Financial, examining the obstacles that persist for women-owned businesses, the emerging trends that are defining their success, and valuable insights. Join us as we explore the future of women-owned small businesses and the impact they continue to make across the nation.

Top Trends for Women-Owned Businesses

Chipping Away at the Gender Gap

The landscape of women-owned businesses in the U.S. has seen significant growth, highlighting their vital role in the national economy. As of 2023, the U.S. hosts approximately 14 million women-owned businesses, making up 39.1 percent of all businesses. These enterprises not only employ over 12 million people, representing a little over nine percent of the total workforce, but also generate a remarkable $2.7 trillion in revenue. The period from 2019 to 2023 was particularly dynamic, with these businesses adding 1.7 million new firms, creating 1.4 million jobs, and contributing an additional $579.6 billion in revenue. Moreover, the growth rate of women-owned businesses outstripped that of men-owned businesses from 2022 to 2023, increasing by nearly six percent. This growth can be attributed to various factors such as increased access to business education and mentorship, the rise of women-focused funding initiatives, and the recognition of the unique strengths and perspectives women bring to the business world.

Although progress has been substantial, considerable inequalities remain, with the gender gap still evident.

Gender Demographics - Guidant's 2024 Small Business Trends Women in Business Report

In our recent study, 74 percent of small businesses are male-owned, contrasting with 26 percent owned by women. Encouragingly, there’s been a three percent growth in women-owned businesses over the past year, signaling a move toward greater gender balance in business ownership.

Snapshot: Women Entrepreneurs in 2024

Happiness Levels - Guidant's 2024 Small Business Trends Women in Business Report
  • Women entrepreneurs are primarily motivated by the desire for autonomy — with 27 percent starting their own businesses to be their own boss, while 20 percent cite dissatisfaction with corporate America, and 18 percent are driven by the passion to turn their interests into fulfilling careers.
  • A significant majority, 69 percent, of women business owners report feeling happy with their entrepreneurial endeavors, reflecting high satisfaction and fulfillment despite a minority of 15 percent feeling dissatisfied. This showcases the overall positive sentiment and resilience among women in business.
  • In 2024, women-owned business demographics showed “White or Caucasian” women leading with 77 percent ownership, followed by “Black or African-American” women at 11 percent, and “Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish Origin” and “Asian or Asian-American” women each at five percent, while “Middle Eastern or North American” and “Indigenous American” women held one percent each.
  • The 2024 Wells Fargo Impact of Women-Owned Business Report highlighted that women-owned businesses grew nearly twice as fast as those owned by men from 2019 to 2023, with businesses owned by “Black/African American” and “Hispanic/Latino” women experiencing significantly higher growth rates, achieving increases in average revenues of 32.7 percent and 17.1 percent respectively, compared to a 12.1 percent increase for all women-owned businesses.
  • In business ownership, Gen X leads with 51 percent and Baby Boomers hold 29 percent, but Millennials are rapidly gaining ground, representing 20 percent of women business owners — a 36 percent increase from last year — while Gen X experienced an eight percent decline, indicating a shift toward younger entrepreneurial generations.
  • The educational landscape among women business owners showcases diverse qualifications: 43 percent hold a bachelor’s degree, 26 percent a master’s, 12 percent an associate’s, and five percent a doctorate, with a notable 86 percent possessing post-secondary degrees — reflecting strong emphasis on education. Additionally, there’s a 26 percent year-over-year increase in the proportion of women with post-secondary education. However, 14 percent have only a high school diploma or GED, highlighting varied pathways to entrepreneurial success.

Top Industries and Business Types

Business Types - Guidant's 2024 Small Business Trends Women in Business Report
  • In 2024, women entrepreneurs show strong engagement in franchising, with 39 percent starting new franchise locations and nine percent investing in existing ones — marking a substantial 17 percent higher likelihood of franchise ownership than the general trend, underscoring their growing influence in the franchise sector.
  • Beyond franchising, 26 percent of women entrepreneurs have launched new independent businesses, and another 26 percent have acquired existing ones, reflecting a robust entrepreneurial spirit. Notably, there has been a 39 percent increase in new women-owned independent businesses year-over-year, highlighting dynamic growth in this sector.
  • Despite economic hurdles, 56 percent of women-owned businesses achieved profitability this year, showing resilience, especially as 25 percent are in their initial two years; however, 44 percent reported unprofitability, reflecting common early-stage business challenges.
  • Women-owned businesses are notably diverse and influential across various sectors: Retail leads with 21 percent, followed by Health, Beauty, and Fitness Services at 15 percent, Food and Restaurant at 13 percent, and both Education Services and Business Services at eight percent each, illustrating women’s strong presence and innovation in meeting consumer demands and driving economic growth in multiple industries.
Top Industries - Guidant's 2024 Small Business Trends Women in Business Report
  • Women entrepreneurs are focusing on strategic growth, with plans to increase staffing (27%), remodel or expand (17%), and enhance marketing efforts (32%), including a 21 percent focus on digital platforms, underscoring their commitment to business development and expansion.

Challenges for Women-Owned Businesses

Top Challenges - Guidant's 2024 Small Business Trends Women in Business Report
  • In 2024, the top challenges for women business owners were led by inflation and price increases (21%), followed by lack of capital and cash flow issues (19%), recruitment and retention difficulties (17%), marketing and advertising hurdles (10%), and administrative burdens (7%), highlighting a spectrum of operational obstacles impacting their business sustainability and growth.
  • This year, 31 percent of women entrepreneurs refrained from hiring new staff, while 26 percent maintained consistent hiring levels. Yet 32 percent faced recruitment challenges, with sales roles being particularly hard to fill. This suggests a stable yet challenging workforce landscape, with signs of improvement as 69 percent reported an easier recruitment process compared to the previous year, potentially marking a shift post the “great resignation” era.
  • To combat hiring difficulties, women-owned businesses are proactively increasing compensation (29%), enhancing retention efforts (18%), expanding recruitment advertising (12%), and improving benefits packages (11%), demonstrating a strategic approach to attract and retain top talent and foster a supportive work environment.

Women Business Owners’ Election Year Insights

Political Parties - Guidant's 2024 Small Business Trends Women in Business Report
  • Political affiliations among women business owners in 2024 show a diverse spectrum, with 41 percent identifying as Democrats (a 23% decrease from last year), 34 percent as Republicans (up 24%), two percent as Libertarians, and a notable 23 percent feeling unrepresented by any political party, reflecting shifting political dynamics and a significant portion of unaligned entrepreneurs.
  • Confidence in the political climate among women business owners is mixed, with 48 percent expressing uncertainty or lack of confidence, 23 percent neutral, and 29 percent displaying some level of confidence.
  • Fifty-five percent disapprove of the Biden-Harris administration’s economic responses, 36 percent are neutral, and 10 percent approve, highlighting a strong demand for more substantial financial support from the government to address economic challenges and aid business growth.
  • Among surveyed women entrepreneurs in December, 39 percent support former President Donald Trump, 26 percent back Joe Biden, while others favor candidates like Ron DeSantis (17%), Nikki Haley (12%), and Robert F. Kennedy (6%), showcasing a diverse array of political preferences that span from conservative to progressive ideologies.

Women in Business: The Road Ahead

The growth of women-owned businesses represents an exciting economic evolution, breathing new life into the small business community and expanding entrepreneurial horizons. According to Guidant’s Women in Business study, this year has been marked by profitability for most women-owned enterprises, coupled with high levels of fulfillment and satisfaction among the owners. An influx of younger, diverse women stepping into business ownership further signals a stride toward a more inclusive and equitable business environment.

Despite this progress, women entrepreneurs still face substantial obstacles, from securing funding to managing recruitment, retention, and the impacts of inflation. Yet, the resolve and optimism among these businesswomen remain unshaken, with many anticipating not just survival but growth in the year ahead. This demonstrates a robust determination to overcome barriers and succeed. For a deeper dive into these insights, explore the full Women in Business report here.

Call us today at 425-289-3200 for a free, no-pressure business consultation to get started — or pre-qualify in minutes for business financing now!

Daniella Cornue, a smiling woman with black long hair. Owner of Le Village Co Work, a small business in Chicago.

“I knew that I needed a funding partner that would be a reflection of the community we are trying to serve — and that is really where Guidant shines.”

Daniella Cornue, Le Village Cowork

Read the stories of REAL small business owners who work with Guidant.

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