Reflections on Female Entrepreneurship: Despite Setbacks and Challenges, 2017 Should Shine a Brighter Light on Today’s Great Business Leaders

Categories Entrepreneurship
As an entrepreneur whose experience stretches back more than 30 years, I still clearly remember a time in which the business landscape was almost entirely bereft of female leadership. Since founding Behrman Communications in 1985, I have been heartened by the progress we have made and have been repeatedly inspired by the outstanding accomplishments of female entrepreneurs across all industries.

Although we should feel a great sense of pride in all we have achieved over the past few decades, it is important to remain vigilant so that we can continue to move forward in spite of the challenges we still face. It is also critical to remain hopeful and optimistic, especially as we enter an era in which many aspiring female entrepreneurs are in need of guidance and support following the dispiriting events that closed out 2016.

In fact, it is clear that most have turned what could have been a demoralizing setback into an opportunity to coalesce around a massive movement demonstrating what female leadership is all about, not to mention further empowering women to pursue the loftiest of entrepreneurial goals. After all, there is ample evidence indicating that female entrepreneurship is in the midst of a tremendous period of consistent growth.

Over the past 10 years — the beginning of which roughly coincides with the financial crisis of 2007 — female entrepreneurship has grown at a rate far greater than entrepreneurship as a whole. In the United States, for example, there was a 45.2 percent change in the number of businesses owned by women during the aforementioned 10-year period. The rate of overall entrepreneurial growth during that same period was just 9.2 percent, and during the previous 10-year period (from 1997 to 2007), the growth rate of female entrepreneurship had been consistently around 20 percent.

In addition to the substantial growth enjoyed by female entrepreneurs, it also apparent that the firms owned by women have consistently outperformed national averages in terms of employee growth. During a period of time in which most small business owners were cutting back on the number of people they employed, female entrepreneurs were expanding in quite a significant way: Female-owned small businesses with 50-99 employees enjoyed 26.7 percent employment growth from 2007 through 2016, a time in which all small businesses of the same size actually experienced a negative growth in employment (-6.0 percent).

No matter how daunting they may appear at first glance, challenges and setbacks should be expected and welcomed by the great women entrepreneurs of today. We have, after all, clearly shown just how capable we are when it comes to overcoming even the most disconcerting of obstacles and roadblocks. Looking back on the progress we have made, I’m quite confident that 2017 will be a great year for female entrepreneurship.