Launching a business was once considered an endeavor primarily for men but as times have changed, more and more female entrepreneurs have stepped up to the challenge. In 1972, women owned 4.6 percent of all businesses in the United States. As of 2019, women own 42 percent of all businesses. During October, National Women’s Small Business Month, California Bank & Trust is celebrating the rise of female entrepreneurs who have overcome obstacles to succeed as individuals and, collectively, make an impact on the economic landscape.
There is no better time than now for women to pursue their ideas and business goals. There currently are nearly 13 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., employing 9.4 million workers and generating revenue of $1.9 trillion.
What are the benefits that drive women to step up and be business owners? The answers can be as diverse as the economy itself:
Leveraging your passions can be turned into a business. Motivational speaker, Brené Brown has inspired women with her top-viewed TED Talks and Netflix special, “Call to Courage”.
“You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness,” said Brown.
Launching, managing or growing a small business can be an enormous task. At the same time, women still feel pressure to “do it all,” meaning it can be tough to pursue business aspirations along with other life demands. In addition to work-life balance, here are some of the obstacles women face that are less common to men in business.
These doubts can be needless burdens. Chikako Okada Tyler, chief financial officer and executive vice president at California Bank & Trust, encourages women to embrace the status, position and reputation for business acumen that they have earned.
“If you are a woman, take a risk and say something,” Tyler says. “Too many women are concerned with what other people think about them or how they will be perceived if they say the wrong thing. You are an intelligent, worthwhile human being and your thoughts have value.”
At the same time, it’s important to avoid holding back your prospects for career advancement because you’re afraid to fail. In fact, Jan Mitrovich, another CB&T executive vice president and director of corporate services, advises women to give themselves freedom to learn and grow.
“I sometimes held back because I was afraid to fail,” she says. “I’d wait until I was 110 percent sure I could do the job I wanted to go after before moving forward. All I can say is: Be courageous. Be your own best advocate. Because if you aren’t, why should anyone else be?”
While not everyone wants to launch a business, you can show your support by buying from women-owned businesses, investing or becoming a volunteer or mentor.
Tyler said her passion for small businesses grew out of watching her father start an import/export company from the family’s living room. Having grown up in post-World War II Japan, he launched the business from the limited funds gained from selling his home.
“I grew up learning by observation that a combination of perseverance, the drive to work hard and a willingness to learn will get you farther than just who you know or sheer intelligence,” she said. “I like my work because we help small businesses like my father’s grow into successful companies.”
While women's achievements in small business are worth cheering for, there's more progress to be made. It doesn't matter if you're a CEO or a small business owner working part-time -- your voice can make a difference. Joining the conversation is vital for young women to see business ownership as a viable option. The more visible female business owners are, the greater the likelihood that more women will go into business—and succeed.[cite::171::cite][cite::172::cite]