The number of women-owned firms may be growing, but their share of total business revenue is declining, according to a new report by the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber’s analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 Survey of Business Owners found the number of women-owned businesses grew by 44 percent between 1997 and 2007, but their share of total business revenue fell from 4.4 percent to just under 4 percent. This low revenue-based market share is striking because the nation’s 7.8 million women-owned businesses account for nearly 29 percent of all businesses in the U.S.
“The media hype about the growth of women’s businesses continues to emphasize the number of women-owned firms, rather than our grossly stunted financial success,” said chamber CEO Margot Dorfman. “This report highlights the growth challenges women business owners face and the opportunity loss our country experiences as we fail to support women as entrepreneurs and business leaders.”
However, the report also indicates other types of small businesses lost revenue-based market share as revenue for publicly traded companies soared. In 2007, nearly 64 percent of all business revenue was posted by public companies, compared with 55 percent in 1997.
Access to capital, federal contracts and private-sector supply chains are the biggest challenges facing women-owned businesses, according to the chamber. The report contends the U.S. Small Business Administration fails to provide enough loans to women-owned businesses and tends to steer women into expensive credit card debt. It also thinks the SBA should “stop segregating women business owners away from the mainstream” and direct them to Small Business Development Centers, which provide counseling and training to all types of business owners, instead of specifically promoting Women’s Business Centers.
As for federal contracts, it urged the federal government to set aside contracts for women-owned businesses in certain industries as soon as possible — something Congress called for 10 years ago. Plus, it would like the government’s overall goal for contracting with women-owned businesses be increased from 5 percent of all procurement dollars to 10 percent.
For more: www.uswcc.org.