Thanks in part to the troubled economy, entrepreneurship has been on the rise over the past few years.  Small businesses have helped replace the jobs lost due to large manufacturers moving operations overseas, and they have helped boost the economies of their local areas.  But did you know that a large portion of such businesses has been started by women?


According to the Center for Women’s Business Research, women-owned over ten million businesses in the United States in 2004.  In Canada, one-third of self-employed individuals are female. In decades past, these numbers would have been unimaginable.


Why do women become entrepreneurs?

Every female entrepreneur has her own story about why she chose the path she’s on.  But there are certain factors that often contribute to women’s desire to start their own businesses.  These include:


Lack of work opportunities – A growing number of both men and women are starting businesses because there just aren’t enough jobs to go around.  Many have been laid off or lost their jobs due to health or other reasons. Instead of trying to compete for an ever-dwindling number of jobs, they decide to create their own.


Family concerns – Another effect of the state of the economy is reduced income, which makes it difficult to obtain childcare.  Many jobs just don’t pay women enough to make hiring a babysitter worthwhile. So instead of paying someone else to watch the kids, many women are seeking self-employment.  This gives them flexible hours, and in some cases, the option to work from home.


The desire for independence – The need for self-fulfillment, independence and greater control over one’s earnings are often attributed to male entrepreneurs.  But this is the primary motivation for many female entrepreneurs as well. Instead of being subjected to the “glass ceiling” in the traditional workplace, they prefer to create their own opportunities.


What do female entrepreneurs do?

The term “female entrepreneur” often conjures images of moms selling items on eBay.  While that is a valid and often lucrative small business, there’s a lot more to entrepreneurism among females.  Not only do they start businesses in women-oriented fields such as fashion, cosmetics and home décor, they are also starting technology, finance and construction firms.


Women-owned businesses range from one-person freelancing operations to large corporations.  An ever-growing number of small service-based businesses are headed by women. Some high-profile female entrepreneurs include Kay Koplovitz, founder of USA Network, and Sandy Lerner, co-founder of Cisco Systems and founder of Urban Decay cosmetics.


Women have made great strides in the business world, and much of their success is attributable to entrepreneurship.  They are creating opportunities not only for themselves but for others who need jobs. The impact of women entrepreneurs on the economy has been increasingly significant, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

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