How Women Entrepreneurs Are Transforming Traditional Industries | Entrepreneur

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Randy Garn

May 3, 2024

Something significant happened between 2019 and 2020. Although we don’t fully understand the driving forces behind why it happened, we’re incredibly grateful it did: An unprecedented number of women entrepreneurs entered the workforce.

Thousands of new, women-owned and women-run businesses seemingly appeared overnight and began thriving in wholesale, retail, medicine and many more.

This unexpected but much-needed surge shifted an age-old paradigm and balanced the previously male-dominated scales of the entrepreneurship world. It was reported in a study created by Gusto that in 2018-2019, the percentage of reported women entrepreneurs within the US was only 28%. And then, within a year, the tides rose, and the momentum turned, and this percentage jumped to nearly 50%. And that number held fast from 2020-2023.

Empirical evidence seems to support the facts above, as well as the figures and findings. Everywhere you turn, a new, women-owned business is cropping up. On every podcast you listen to, the guest is a woman entrepreneur who, one day, finally decided, “I’m just going to go for it,” and ended up building an empire. They’re winning awards, creating jobs and turning categories upside down.

What may be just as impressive as the number of women entering the entrepreneur world is the variety of verticals they enter. According to a Wells Fargo report, less than one decade ago, women-owned businesses were concentrated in just three industries. Now, they have a 50% foothold across four different industries (healthcare/social assistance, administration and remediation services, professional and technical services, and a slew of other services) and are continually expanding.

From supplements to donuts, from wines and spirits to services and tech, women are making a difference and a deep impact on the market at large and the lives of individuals. In the same Wells Fargo report mentioned earlier, it was shown that since the pandemic:

“Women-owned businesses with 50 or more employees account for nearly half of women-owned businesses’ employment and revenues. Currently, women-owned businesses with 50 or more employees average $31.8 million in revenue, generating $1.3 trillion in aggregate revenue.”

This growth isn’t only relegated to the US either. International women entrepreneurs are also adding their voices and businesses to the mix. One investment firm I work with quite a bit, Arieli Capital, has a big foothold in Israel, and they report an unprecedented number of women entrepreneurs in their circles.

As I mentioned before in the article, the impact these businesses are creating is substantial and still has room for massive growth. If you happen to be a woman interested in starting your own thing, you’re not too late to the party. In fact, you may have arrived right on time.

Just as important as understanding the importance of this surge may be dissecting its causes. Though some of what I’m about to say is conjecture, at least a portion of it has been substantiated by some scholars, and the reasons are interesting:

Covid seemed to play a massive role (and I know we’re all tired of talking about the pandemic) in this uptick. It seems at least a small positive was born out of the rubble of the pandemic: the “traditional workplace,” as we knew it, crumbled, and out of the pieces arose a new vision for what was possible.

The 9-5 no longer worked, and we realized that we could work without it. Women who self-identified as traditional “housewives” began to take advantage of this fracture and to create a workplace and creative space that would fit their specific needs: something more flexible. The impossibility of creating and running their own business had now collapsed in on itself, and behind it lay a new way to get the job done.

The Great Resignation also seemed to have a hand in this sudden surge. Individuals everywhere began reassessing their values, motives, and desires within the context of their jobs. They resigned once they realized that their employer (or career path) didn’t match their fundamental morals. This widespread introspection may have helped elevate our collective vision, which led to the blazing of new or less-traveled pathways for individuals, especially women, everywhere.

We can also attribute at least some of this growth to crowd-created momentum. A certain amount of inspiration and motivation is generated when you see your peers doing something you’ve always dreamt of doing. This momentum seems to be mounting as more and more women dive headfirst into entrepreneurship.

Lastly, new support groups, systems and financing became available. More organizations rose up, dedicated to supporting and empowering the woman entrepreneur. Venture capital came swooping in, ready to invest. And publications everywhere began highlighting the stories that seemed to be falling out of fruit-heavy trees.

I’m not saying there weren’t great resources pre-2017 for women entrepreneurs, but there are far more now. There are dozens of publications with insightful thought leadership and advice for every stage of entrepreneurship.

At the same time, government organizations have been set up to support women-owned and women-started businesses. Many women-focused events, summits and conferences around the globe provide in-person training, roundtable discussion and incredibly valuable Q&A. It seems that finally, the infrastructure is catching up.

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