president's penAs a network of businesswomen, I’m proud of the diversity in our membership. We have women just starting out in the business world, women who have retired, and pretty much every situation in between. Just attend a Wine Down with us and the wisdom from different perspectives quickly becomes obvious.

What is an entrepreneur?This month, we’re shining a spotlight on entrepreneurs. According to Dictionary.com, an entrepreneur (noun) is:

a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

Entrepreneurs wear many different hats. They are often some combination of the CEO, the CMO, the COO, the CFO, the CTO, the executive assistant, receptionist, and head of the mailroom. I may have left off a few titles in there somewhere, too. As an entrepreneur’s business grows, they hand off the duties, but they still wear the hat. The responsibility for each of these areas still lies solely on their shoulders.

The status of women pursuing entrepreneurship

Earlier this year, I came across a report from TD Economics that detailed some interesting stats about women and self-employment/entrepreneurship. Here are a few interesting data points from the research:

  • Since the recession, women are leading the pursuit of entrepreneurial ventures.
  • Women are more likely to own small businesses (1-99 employees) than medium-sized businesses (100-499 employees).
  • Female-owned SMEs are slightly more likely than male-owned SMEs to have engaged in an innovation activity in the past three years.
  • Women business owners are slightly less likely to seek financing than male owners.

Two things stand out in this report that concern me:

Research has shown that women exhibit less “entrepreneurial self-efficacy”, meaning the belief in one’s ability to successfully be an entrepreneur based on a personal assessment of one’s skills, and this gap emerges early – among young adults or even adolescents.

Young girls are developing limiting beliefs that may be holding them back from pursuing entrepreneurship opportunities later in life. If these beliefs hold us back from pursing entrepreneurship, what impact are they having on our career choices?

While women make up nearly half the workforce, they are still much less likely than men to be entrepreneurs. Some factors like greater risk aversion and occupational choice, which help shape the gender entrepreneurship gap, are likely to be slow to change.

The uptick in women pursuing entrepreneurship since the recession has had minimal effect on the low representation of women. The definition states that an “entrepreneur” is “a person”. With women so underrepresented (35.6% of all self-employed individuals), we have some work to do to help women see and seek entrepreneurial opportunities with the same vigor they choose to enter the workforce as employees.

What can we do?

The Women’s Business Network is a place for all women in the business community. The professionals, the corporate employees, the entrepreneurs. This starts by showing that we’re united in supporting and helping each other grow in our chosen field. It means, as a network, we need to continue offering programs that address the variety of needs within our membership.

This month, as we head into the incredibly fast approaching holidays, I hope you’ll join us at the Wine Down, and for our event with Perley-Robertson on why branding is so important for your small business, as well as the lively and lovely Breakfast Mix & Mingle. I’ve already got my ticket to all three, so I hope I get to see you there!

karen-wilson

Karen Wilson
WBN President 2015-16 KarenCWilson.me