10.6 million firms are at least 50 percent owned by a woman or women.

Forty-eight percent of all privately held firms are at least 50-percent owned by a woman or women.

Between 1997 and 2004, the estimated growth rate in the number of women-owned firms was nearly twice that of all firms (17 percent versus 9 percent). Employment expanded at twice the rate of all firms (24 percent versus 12 percent), and estimated revenues kept pace with all firms (39 percent versus 34 percent).

Women-owned businesses will spend an estimated $546 billion annually on salaries and benefits ($492 billion on salaries and $54 billion for employee benefits -- heath, retirement, and insurance). Health benefits comprise the largest share of benefit expenditures, with 2004 spending estimated at $38 billion.

Annual expenditures by women-owned enterprises in four areas are: information technology ($38 billion), telecommunications ($25 billion), human resources services ($23 billion), and shipping ($17 billion); a total estimated at $103 billion.

Between 1997 and 2004, privately held "50-percent-or-more women-owned firms" diversified into all industries with the fastest growth in construction (30 percent growth), transportation, communications and public utilities (28 percent growth), and agricultural serves (24 percent growth).

The number of women-owned firms with employees has expanded by an estimated 28 percent between 1997 and 2004, three times the growth rate of all firms with employees.

As of 2004, almost two-thirds (63 percent) of all women-owned businesses are held privately. This majority of 51 percent or more of women-owned businesses accounts for 6.7 million firms, employing 9.8 million people and generating $1.2 trillion in sales.

The top three fastest-growing states, based on an average rank of 1997 to 2004 growth rates, in the number of privately-held, 50 percent or more women-owned firms, employment and sales are from the top: Utah, Arizona andNevada.

Growth:

The fastest growth is in the number of 100-plus employee women-owned firms. From 1997 to 2000, the number of 100-plus employee women-owned firms grew by 44 percent, over 1.5 times the rate of all comparably sized firms.

Regardless of race or ethnic background, the vast majority of women entrepreneurs have growth as a primary goal (86 percent African-American, 71 percent Asian, 80 percent Caucasian and 84 percent Latina).

Finances:

Women-owned businesses are just as financially strong and creditworthy as the average U.S. firm, with similar performance on bill payment and similar levels of credit risk, and are just as likely to remain in business.

Women are moving into the equity capital markets, but still receive only 9 percent of the institutional investment deals, and 2 percent of the dollars. They are more likely to receive capital from the individual investors (73 percent) than venture capital firms (15 percent).

Women-owned firms with $1 million or more in revenues are as likely as their men counterparts to use business earnings and bootstrapping techniques to finance their firms, but are less likely to use commercial credit (56 percent vs. 71 percent) or equity (4 percent vs. 11 percent).

' Center for Women's Business Research, 2005

Technology:

Women who own firms with $1 million or more in revenues are more likely than their men counterparts to embrace technology as an integral part to their business strategy (58 percent versus 35 percent) and more likely to have a web site with transaction capability (56 percent versus 38 percent).

Styles:

Eighty-six percent of women entrepreneurs say they use the same products and services at home as they do in their business.

Women and men business owners have different management styles. Women emphasize relationship building as well as gathering facts, are more likely to consult with others, including experts, employees and fellow business owners, and may take more time to make decisions.

When selecting a financial advisory, high net worth women are more likely than their men counterparts to say it is important to feel confident that the advisor is "acting in your best interest" (93 percent versus 83 percent).

Women business owners are philanthropically active: 70 percent volunteer at least once per month; 31 percent contribute $5,000 or more to charity annually; 15 percent give $10,000 or more.

Access to Markets:

Although 60 percent of Fortune 1,000 companies spend $1 billion or more with outside suppliers, as of 2003, women's business enterprises captured on average only 4 percent of this market share. Women's business enterprises that target corporate markets receive almost half their revenues (48 percent) from large corporate contracts. Women-owned businesses with $1 million or more in revenues are more likely than smaller businesses owned by women to have large corporations (34 percent versus 12 percent) and government (17 percent versus 5 percent) as their primary clients.

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