Annual WPO Business Outlook Survey of Women-Owned and Led Businesses Grossing Over $2MM Reveals Rapid Growth
Underscores Dramatic Increase in Economic Confidence
NEW YORK, Oct. 8, 2014 /CNW/ - Has fear about the economic downturn loosened its grip on women business owners? The answer is resoundingly yes, according to the findings of the 2014 Business Outlook Survey, conducted by the Women Presidents' Organization (WPO). Economic concerns have plummeted. Just eight percent of members said they believe economic conditions are the biggest threat to their bottom-line growth, a dramatic drop from last year's findings, when half of the respondents (50%) cited the economic downturn as their biggest worry.
Sponsored by KeyBank's Key4Women program, the annual WPO survey conducted by the nonprofit, peer advisory group for leaders of multi-million dollar companies focuses on attitudes regarding business challenges and opportunities, as well as forecasted outcomes of top women-owned and led businesses around the world.
Growth of Women-Owned/Led Businesses Outpacing the National Average
Women-owned companies account for 30 percent of all US businesses, contribute nearly $3 trillion to the economy and make up 16 percent of all jobs. So far in 2014, more than a quarter (28%) of WPO member businesses have achieved a growth rate of 25% or more. When compared to 5.4% average U.S. business growth, these top women-led businesses have outperformed the national average by three times or more. Close to half (42%) of WPO members project 2014 revenues to top $5 million.
"Not only are women-owned businesses thriving, they're outpacing their male counterparts and setting the bar high for success. They are increasing their bottom line, expanding their workforce and providing new jobs," said Marsha Firestone, Ph.D., WPO President and Founder.
"Women business owners stayed the course throughout the Great Recession, sometimes making hard choices in order to keep their businesses going. They were confident their businesses would not just survive, but thrive, and this year's WPO Business Outlook Survey results demonstrate that," said Key4Women Manager Martha Seidenwand.
"Women business owners, comfortable that they will end 2014 on good financial footing, want information that can help them make confident financial decisions," Seidenwand commented. "They're not focused on competition or fluctuations in their individual regional market. Instead, they put their energy and effort into learning ways to operate their businesses more efficiently. They are evaluating their business goals, and they actively seek insight on how to attain them."
Access to Capital Remains a Challenge
According to the survey, as women leaders address the internal factors that impact revenue, they are most concerned with challenges such as growing their business to scale (17%), finding and retaining good employees (16%), maintaining/increasing profit margins (15%) and growth of competition (8%). Access to capital is a major issue facing female entrepreneurs today. They receive just 4% of the total value of conventional small-business loans and 7% of venture funding. While 33% of WPO members used their personal savings to start their business, and 12% incurred personal debt, less than 1% received VC or angel funding to get started. Almost one third (31%) of WPO members said they were interested in raising capital in the future.
"I think the bias that women don't grow substantial businesses that generate increased revenue and employment is programmed into the DNA. In some cases, these businesses are viewed as not creditworthy. One of the recurring themes we've seen in compiling the Women Presidents' Organization's annual list of the 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies is that when starting a business, women tend to rely on informal funding methods, including self-financing, loans from friends and family and incurring credit card debt, or a combination of these. Thanks to angel investors and venture capital, the 2014 ranking showed a slight shift in how these second-stage companies had obtained financing," added Dr. Firestone.
Entrepreneurs Pay Themselves More
Where corporate women might hit roadblocks or "glass ceilings," women businesses owners thrive. In 2014, 72% of WPO members pay themselves over $100K/year. Nearly half (45%) plan to increase their own salaries, 68% will increase employees' salaries and 66% will hire more employees. Stability is a key trend as well -- 78% of WPO member businesses are over 10 years old.
Peer Advisory Aids Growth
The backbone of the WPO business model is peer advisory. Members connect with like-minded women from a vast array of noncompetitive industries, to discuss challenges and strategies in a confidential environment. The impact of peer advisory on the success of second-stage businesses is clear:
- 60% of WPO members have grown their businesses since joining the organization:
- 7% have grown by 51% or more
- 8% have grown from 26%-50%
- 15% have grown from 16%-25%
- 31% have grown from 5%-15%
- 82% said that participation in the WPO helps manage their business concerns
The WPO Business Outlook Survey, sponsored by KeyBank, polled 339 women leaders and owners of multi-million dollar companies in August 2014. Members responded in an anonymous electronic format. Additional survey data is available upon request.
Founded in 2005, Key4Women is a national program that helps women entrepreneurs, professionals, nonprofit leaders and consumers to achieve their goals by providing access to capital, customized solutions, ongoing education and networking opportunities. Among the nation's largest financial services companies and a leading small business lender, Key provides financial services to thousands of women-owned businesses in 14 states and continuously exceeds lending goals focused on women-owned businesses. Visit Key4Women for more information.
Key traces its history back more than 160 years and is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. One of the nation's largest bank-based financial services companies, Key has assets of approximately $91 billion.
Key (NYSE:KEY) provides deposit, lending, cash management and investment services to individuals, small and medium-sized business in 14 states under the name KeyBank National Association. Key also provides a broad range of sophisticated corporate and investment banking products, such as merger and acquisition advice, public and private debt and equity, syndications and derivatives to middle market companies in selected industries throughout the United States under the KeyBanc Capital Markets trade name. Visit KeyBank for more information, and follow KeyBank on Facebook, on [email protected]_News and @KeyBank_Thrive. KeyBank is Member FDIC.
About the Women Presidents' Organization
The WPO currently has over 116 chapters with more than 1,800 members on six continents, having recently expanded into Australia, New Zealand, Johannesburg, Istanbul, Mexico City, Middle East/North Africa and Edmonton, Alberta. Women are achieving unprecedented levels of success in these markets by reaching the multi-million dollar revenue requirement for WPO membership. New chapters will be launched this year in Sweden, Israel, Mexico City and Portugal.
The WPO is the ultimate affiliation for successful women entrepreneurs worldwide. In monthly meetings across the world, women from diverse industries invest time and energy in themselves and their businesses to drive their corporations to the next level. WPO members' average revenue is $13 million, generating aggregate revenue of $19 Billion. Local WPO chapters are coordinated by a professional facilitator and meet monthly to share business expertise and experience in a confidential setting. For more information, call 212-688-4114 or visit www.womenpresidentsorg.com. Follow WPO on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
 Global Initiative for Women's Entrepreneurial Research
 Sageworks' Private Company Report
 The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Image with caption: "WPO Business Outlook Survey Infographic (CNW Group/Women Presidents' Organization)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20141008_C1357_PHOTO_EN_6491.jpg
SOURCE: Women Presidents' Organization
For further information: Erin McKeon, Global Group by JG, [email protected], 212-967-5895 Office, 914-980-8402 Mobile; Susan Johnson, Women Presidents' Organization, [email protected], 212-688-4114 Office, 917-601-5778 Mobile