October is National Women’s Small Business Month, meaning this is the time we should be celebrating the success and accomplishments of women business owners everywhere. But this October, small business owners are feeling anything but celebratory. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on businesses of all size, and women owners are feeling the devastation of COVID-19.
A recent study of 522 women small business owners across the 15 most populous states found 54% feared they’d have to close their doors for good because of COVID-19.
The study, commissioned by Groupon and conducted by OnePoll, aimed to understand how women small business owners are meeting the challenges COVID-19 presents. Not surprisingly, 75% of women-owned small businesses have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. A fifth said they either plan to or already needed to lay off employees — and less than 10% said they plan to hire more people in the next year.
“This year, Women’s Small Business Month comes at a time when many women-owned businesses are facing even greater challenges than usual due to the pandemic and they need our help now more than ever,” said Groupon CFO Melissa Thomas.
The survey also delved into some of the inequalities women entrepreneurs face. Over half (55%) of respondents said men have an easier time starting their own business — and more than half said they’re held to a much higher standard than their male counterparts.
How To Support Women Small Business Owners
“Every one of us has a role to play when it comes to investing in the success of small businesses,” says Thomas. “It’s certainly great to have an entire month and campaign dedicated to the promotion and growth of women-owned businesses, but it’s also very important that we continue to support them all year long.”
The survey shows that mentorship was vital to the success of women small business owners. Three in five respondents go out of their way to mentor other women entrepreneurs. Respondents said it took an average of two and a half years for their businesses to become successful — and they’re doing what they can to help other women reach the same level of success.
Women small business owners also said putting in hard work, taking pride in the quality of their product or service, building a personal network, having an innovative business idea and being a woman in business were the top five keys to their success.
Additionally, the survey revealed which states have been the most supportive toward women-owned small businesses during the pandemic, with Massachusetts and New York in the lead. When it comes to making it easy for women entrepreneurs to start their own business, Florida led all states, in part due to no personal state income tax and the warm climate.
How Will The Election Impact Women Small Business Owners?
Sixty-seven percent of women business owners surveyed said they’re paying close attention to the upcoming 2020 presidential election. When asked to identify their preferred candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden had the support of 47% of respondents, compared to 34% who indicated support for President Donald Trump.
The top five issues respondents was to see addressed by the presidential candidates (chosen from a pre-selected list) were the economy (75%), health care (54%), gender equality (43%), tax credits and/or cuts (42%) and social justice (36%).
Moving Past 2020
According to the American Express 2019 annual State of Women-owned Businesses Report, there are nearly 13 million women-owned businesses in the United States — supporting over 9 million jobs and generating $1.9 trillion in revenue. As of 2019, women owned 42% of all businesses, a number that has grown dramatically over the years. In 1972, women only owned 4.6% of all businesses in the United States. Women-owned businesses grew 21% from 2014 to 2019.
The survey found that 25% of women small business owners believe it will take more than a year for their business to get back to normal.