State of Women And Entrepreneurship 2020: Here’s What You Need To Know
Women are making incredible strides in the field of entrepreneurship.
We’re seeing more women-owned businesses, more female investors, and—what’s perhaps even more important—more brands waving their “women-owned and operated” flag. It’s become a badge of honor, rather than something to hide.
While the overall trend, therefore, is highly encouraging, there are still stumbling blocks that women entrepreneurs continue to face.
These issues, as well as the positive progress women business owners have made, is detailed in Visa’s second annual State of Female Entrepreneurship report, the initial findings of which were released in early March. The findings offer a glimpse into the state of women and entrepreneurship in 2020, and are something everyone with a stake in the future of business—in other words, everyone—should pay attention to.
Here are a few of the most salient pieces of information.
Growth in funding for women entrepreneurs has not kept pace with the growth of other types of support.
A troubling statistic from the report is that while 79% percent of women entrepreneurs in the U.S. feel more empowered now than they did five years ago, 66% still report difficulty in obtaining the funding they need to succeed.
What this means is that while women may feel that they have the other resources they need to support them on their entrepreneurial journey, they’re not receiving the financial support from investors or VCs needed to get their business off the ground.
This is backed by a growing body of research, including a 2019 Columbia Business School study that found that female-led ventures are 63 percent less likely to receive VC funding. This is in spite of the fact that when female-led ventures do receive VC funding, they are just as likely to achieve exit outcomes through IPOs or acquisitions.
Support networks for women in startups, greater representation of women in leadership, girls being taught entrepreneurial skills at a young age—these are all critical components of furthering women’s success as entrepreneurs.
But these efforts by themselves will not allow women entrepreneurs to reach their full potential. These support systems must be combined with the same funding opportunities that male entrepreneurs receive if women are to reach their full potential as founders.
The bottom line is that VCs and investors must work way harder to stay aware of their own biases when it comes to the companies they choose to fund. That’s the only way we’ll see women-led companies achieve the funding they deserve.
Women founders need better tools to grow and manage their businesses.
Once a company is actually established, women entrepreneurs need the right tools to grow and manage that business.
This was actually the biggest challenge for women surveyed in the report, with the next two being assembling a good team and raising capital/funding.
One great resource that can help address this issue is the National Women’s Business Council’s Grow Her Business program, which lists hundreds of available resources including lenders, education, membership associations, and more.
Visa is also stepping up to help address this problem with the She’s Next, Empowered by Visa program. Their Practical Business Skills offerings give female small business owners opportunities to learn and improve their skills online in things like hiring, increasing sales, obtaining insurance, and much more.
Nearly half of women entrepreneurs would spend more on advertising and marketing if they could.
Forty-nine percent of female entrepreneurs surveyed in the report would direct additional funding toward marketing and advertising activities.
In addition, the two Visa-sponsored workshops that were the most popular with respondents were how to grow using digital marketing (58 percent) and promoting business with social media (56 percent).
When you combine these findings, it becomes clear that one of the areas women most want support, aside from gaining their initial funding, is in promoting their brands online. This tracks with what my company, Zen Media, found when we worked with Chase on the Chase for Business BizMobile, a traveling small business consultation center.
One of the offerings was a free, 15-minute consultation with Zen’s marketing experts to answer business owners’ questions about how best to market their business online. And in fact, this offering was based directly on the incredible popularity of similar consultations that we offered to attendees at various Chase for Business conferences.
If you’re a female entrepreneur, like me, you know what it’s like starting and managing a business. It’s challenging. It’s inspiring. It’s a daily struggle—but a good one. And you also know that the only way to achieve success is to fiercely advocate for yourself and your brand every day.
And if you’re not a female entrepreneur, maybe now is a good moment to take stock of what you can do to support this group of determined business owners.
Look at your own unconscious biases.
Reach out to offer mentorship or guidance.
Share the tools that have helped you grow your business.
Let’s each do what we can to move the field of entrepreneurship forward, toward greater equity and success for all of us.