I come from a family of full-time entrepreneurs and part-time entrepreneurs (aka side hustlers). From financial advisers to ice cream parlor owners, cosmetologists, home and floral decorators, and consultants, my family is full of people, especially women, who started and successfully ran their full-time and part-time businesses. From my family, I learned the importance of always have something for myself, and I began my first side business at 25. Now that I’m running R.O.K. on the side, I have met many more women business owners (full time and part time). These women definitely don’t match the images of business owners that come across my social media feeds (usually traditional college age social media influencers). It’s refreshing to speak with these women. In my conversations with them, we discuss reasons why we started our own businesses, other business ideas that we’ve considered, our challenges, our successes, and our needs. This got me thinking about women business owners, especially minority women, and what those demographics of owners look like.
That’s when I came across a media post about American Express statistics on minority women entrepreneurs, so I had to check out the document for myself. According to AMEX, 1,821 women owned businesses launched in the US every day last year. Of those businesses, approximately 42% +/- were started by Black women. Over the past five years, 67% of women-owned side hustles were started by Black women. Again, these facts don’t match the images that come across my news feed. Below are some additional stats:
Net new women owned businesses per day by race/ethnicity 2017-2018
All women owned businesses: 1817
Minority owned businesses: 1625
African American: 541
Asian American 191
Native American/Alaska Native: 22
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 7
From this alone, I was glad to know that there were 1) more women in general than before who were venturing out on their own, either part-time or full-time, and 2) minority owned women businesses on the rise. Of women entrepreneurs, 48% are between the ages of 45-65, and 67% are ages 45 and older. For most of these business owners, their businesses are found to be successful because they have years of work experience and learned lessons under their belt, their networks and contacts are expansive, they have financial capital to invest in themselves, and they have deep relationships within the community to help support their businesses.
As I read this report, I began wondering why these businesses began. Was it simply because women wanted something of their own? While that was a reason for me starting ROK, it wasn’t a main reason. I also realized that it was okay to have multiple passions (writing, coaching/mentoring, crafts) and those passions won’t necessarily be fulfilled by one job. I also wanted extra money (people don’t go into education for the BIG BUCKS), but I wanted to control when and how I made the extra money instead of being governed by another job. With R.O.K, I decide which clients I take on, which products I put out, and when to take a break. And then there are long-term reasons, which I won’t go into at the moment; therefore, I wanted to know why other women, especially from an age and race perspective, started their own. That’s when I came across the following term:
Flexibility entrepreneurs – those who start businesses due to workforce policies that do not accommodate their life roles or their desire to have more control over their schedules.
Here are additional interesting and relatable reasons why women start their businesses:
- Financial needs – not making the same amount of pay as their peers; little to no career advancement; personal challenges that require the need for more money;
- Caregiver roles – taking care of children and/or elderly parents. *I’ll add elderly family members to this, as some women care for extended elderly family members as well.
- Establishing a legacy- having something to pass on to children and establishing generational wealth; and
- Lack of job prospects- aside from having little to no career advancement opportunities, I noted in some of my conversations that there seemed to be a lack of job opportunities that aligned with the women’s interests. Therefore, the established business was a way to do something with those additional skills and talents.
Although minority women are establishing businesses of their own, there are still some hurdles to overcome compared to non-minority and non-women owned businesses (i.e. funding options, number of employees, revenue/growth). In other words, there’s still work to do. It’s encouraging to see that the number of women (and minority women) owned businesses continue to rise. Now, we need to look at policies and funding opportunities for women in multi-service sectors. It’s time to make sure that these businesses thrive, financially, and are given a chance to last a long time.
To read more, see the following report here.
Keep leading and be safe,