How To Support Women Entrepreneurs (And Why It Matters)
In my previous post about our new shoulder bags, I mentioned that Real Abstract Design is a woman-owned small business, and I'm excited to let you know that October is National Women's Small Business Month here in the U.S.
I'm proud of the work we've done, both artistically and in terms of getting this business off the ground. There's been a bit of a learning curve on the business side – I'm still learning, in fact – but I've really enjoyed the process. Nothing pleases me more than sharing my appreciation of abstract art with you, and it's incredibly gratifying to see those abstract designs out in the world.
So I wanted to take this moment to celebrate, not only women in business, but also women in the arts, and to provide some resources for artists and entrepreneurs alike! This post will focus on the business side, and my next post will talk a bit about what it means to be a woman artist.
Do We Need a Women-Owned Business Month?
On its surface, that's a fair question: if men and women are to be treated equally, why have a month focused on promoting and celebrating women in business? But there's value in digging a little deeper, of course. For example, did you know that, until 1988, women in the U.S. needed a male relative to co-sign if they wanted to apply for a business loan?¹ Nineteen eighty-eight!
Unfortunately, gender bias in the workplace isn't (yet) a relic of the past. In a study from just two years ago, women at a large (unnamed) North American company, on average, received higher performance ratings than men, but they received fewer promotions because their leadership potential was somehow perceived to be lower.²
Now, that's not to say that women generally outperform men – I've worked with plenty of exceptional men (and women), and I've found, as I'm sure you have, that one's gender has nothing to do with the quality of one's work. But it does seem that, more often than we'd like to admit, women can lean in all they want, and yet find, not only is that glass ceiling real, but that it persists despite widespread awareness – even 35 years after women won the right to apply for business loans on their own.
When you research women in business, you're likely to find platitudes about diversity, and how women bring unique perspectives and experiences to the workplace. And that's all well and good, you might say: gender diversity is a laudable goal, certainly from an equality-of-opportunity standpoint, and it stands to reason that diverse viewpoints enrich any group's decision-making process.
But does it really matter whether or not women own their own businesses? Yes, as it turns out. And the simple reason is because we're good at it! Check out these findings from the 2022 annual report put out by the National Women's Business Council:³
- Between 2012 and 2019, women-owned employer firms grew 16.7%, compared to the 5.2% growth rate for men-owned firms.
- Gross receipts for women-owned companies increased "exponentially" (51.9%) during that time, while revenues for employer firms owned by men rose 34.2%.
- Women-owned businesses employed 10.8 million workers in 2019, an increase of 28% from 2012, compared with just 10.8% workforce growth from men-owned employer firms.
- Women-owned businesses without employees still had revenue growth of 20.1% from 2014 to 2018, compared with 14.4% for men-owned businesses without employees.
I've previously discussed the benefits of shopping at small businesses – that supporting small businesses kicks off an ongoing virtuous cycle that keeps money in the local community, which then gets reinvested in other small businesses, keeping more of that money in the local community, which in turn gets reinvested in still other small businesses, which ... well, you get the idea.
And now we've seen that supporting women-owned small businesses carries additional benefits, both altruistic (combatting false perceptions) and practical (they're job creators). So why have a women-owned business month? Well, it seems that, for the good of the economy, we need more of them!
And how can you support women entrepreneurs? It's pretty simple: patronize their businesses, and encourage others to do so. And don't forget that – shameless self-promotion – our woman-owned abstract art gift shop includes a wide range of useful, high-quality products, available in our signature edgy abstract designs.
I can't promise that we'll ever employ millions of people, but I can assure you that we'll never waiver from our mission to surround you and your loved ones with beauty and style – namely by continuing to create daring abstract designs and applying them to everyday products that allow you to express yourself and your unique sensibilities.
Quick Resource Guide – Places To Learn More
As promised, we've put together a quick list of resources for women who own their own business, or are looking to start a business:
- The Office of Women's Business Ownership is part of the U.S. Small Business Administration. They've put together a number of resources for women-owned businesses, including National Women's Small Business Month.
- SCORE, whose mission is to "foster vibrant small business communities through mentoring and education," provides a number of resources for women entrepreneurs.
- Women on Business is a website with "news and information women need to be successful in the business world," and whose goal is to "broaden the online discussion between today's male and female business thought leaders."
- Female Founders Alliance is a "community of women and non-binary startup founders dedicated to helping each other succeed."
- QuickBooks has put together a resource guide for women entrepreneurs and business owners.
- Teach.com has also put together a resource guide for supporting women in business.
This list is by no means exhaustive. If you know of a resource we didn't include, please let us know!
Coming Soon: Women in the Arts
Stay tuned for my next post, where I'll discuss women artists and the challenges we can sometimes face in showcasing our work.