Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Design to Delivery Inc., Chair, NAWBO National
“If we want women to excel, first, they need to be on equal footing with their male counterparts.”
As we honor women across the world for International Women’s Day, we would like to specifically acknowledge the global community of women business owners, working and striving to keep our international economy strong through their innovative ideas and unwavering work ethic. It is the job of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) to highlight to policymakers the importance of women-owned businesses and advocate for parity on their behalf. Today underscores a year-round effort of NAWBO.
In America, women-owned businesses account for almost half of U.S. businesses according to the Survey of Business Owners. Women-owned employer firms brought in over $1.45 trillion in sales in 2016 according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs (ASE), as highlighted in the National Women’s Business Council’s annual report. More importantly, women-owned businesses are creating more jobs than ever, with nearly 9.4 million jobs created in 2016, a nearly 10 percent increase since 2014. With these numbers only increasing, our nation should capitalize on the vital role women business owners play in our economy by supporting their growth and helping them overcome barriers to entry.
For one, access to capital stands in the way of many female entrepreneurs’ long-standing success. According to a Kauffman Firm Survey (KFS), “Characteristics of New Firms: A Comparison by Gender,” a firm that starts with capital in excess of $125,000 performs significantly better than startups with lower capital. However, the same survey found that the majority of firms started by women (61.8 percent) opened with less than $25,000. Both data points illustrate how women are already several steps behind their male counterparts before they have even begun their business endeavor.
In addition, the most recent Survey of Business Owners showed that only 10 percent of companies in high patenting industries are women-owned, with fewer women-owned businesses represented in these industries than in all other industries. According to a 2015 Brookings Institution study, women hold only 18.8 percent of all patents. With women consistently behind the curve, our nation will fall behind the global race for innovation. Last Congress, NAWBO supported legislation to address this lack of female representation in the patent process, and we encourage lawmakers to continue their efforts from the previous session.
While we continue to see areas of improvement, we acknowledge that lawmakers are continuing their support of the business community. Already in the 116th Congress, members are working to improve the tax environment for small business owners and we salute their efforts. House Small Business Committee Chair Nydia Velázquez and Ranking Member Steve Chabot have reintroduced the Small Business Owners’ Tax Simplification Act. This bipartisan piece of legislation sets out to simplify and modernize the U.S. tax code for small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs. If we want our businesses to thrive and to keep America strong, we need policies that enable more small businesses to spend less time and resources learning to navigate the tax system and focus more on growing their businesses and our economy.
Quest for parity
Finally, the ASE also pointed out a significant increase in minority women-owned employer firms, which was nearly double that of all women-owned employer firms. This result demonstrates a growing need to build robust resources for minority female entrepreneurs. Creating an environment where they flourish leads to a vibrant nation where our economy reaps the rewards.
While the American woman stands with many more liberties than in some other countries, there is still more work to be done, especially for the female business owner. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If we want women to excel, first, they need to be on equal footing with their male counterparts. As NAWBO continues our decades-long quest for parity in business, we believe our goals will be met, and we know women across the world will follow America’s lead on forward-thinking policies on behalf of the women business owner.
Molly Gimmel, co-founder and chief executive officer of Design to Delivery Inc., chair, NAWBO National, [email protected]