Report highlights areas of growth for women-owned businesses

A report released March 27 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Women in Business offers revealing statistics regarding the current state of women-owned businesses in the country and what regions are most likely to have women-owned businesses.

The report found that nearly one-third of all new U.S. businesses launched in the last 15 years are women-owned and that women are founding companies at a faster rate than any other group. Most interestingly, I thought, is that a startling 90 percent of women-owned businesses are sole enterprises and have no other employees. And only 2 percent of women-owned businesses have 10 or more employees — half the rate of all businesses. Self-employed females are most prevalent in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon, with more than 45 percent of its self-employed workers being female, has more self-employed women than any other state. Washington ranked fourth among all states for self-employed women.

North Dakota, which has become accustomed to taking top prize on many nationwide rankings, ranked dead last this time with fewer than 28 percent self-employed women. South Dakota fared only slightly better, ranking 46th with about 33 percent self-employed females. Minnesota, in which nearly 38 percent of the state’s self-employed workers are female, ranked 27th on the list. The national average was 38.2 percent.

Grand Forks, N.D.-based Praxis Strategy Group conducted the research for this report, so I asked President Delore Zimmerman why he thought North Dakota has fewer self-employed women than any other state. He said there are a few likely causes contributing to the rating: A plentitude of jobs at existing firms and a cultural attitude that discourages self-employment for women are likely reasons. Another reason could be that the number of self-employed people in North Dakota is dominated by farmers, a predominantly male profession.

It will be interesting to see how the ratio of female-owned sole enterprises changes in North Dakota and throughout the northern Plains in coming years. According to the report, 10 million U.S. workers were self employed in 2013 and the number of self-employed workers is growing faster than employees in incorporated entitites. If this trend continues, Praxis researchers predict that more U.S. workers will telecommute than physically commute by 2020.

To read the report, titled “Women-Owned Businesses: Carving a New American Business Landscape,” click here.