Finding Power in Female Entrepreneurship: A Look at Women in Small Business [Infographic]

May 19, 2017


It’s safe to say, the workplace has changed drastically over the past half-century—and for the better. Thanks to the progressing minds of yesterday, we’re where we are today. 

Coming off the Mother’s Day weekend last week, we wanted to continue celebrating women everywhere. In particular, we wanted to look at one powerful, emerging group: female entrepreneurs. And the reason should go without saying because let’s face it: We’ve come a really long way and the future is only looking bright from here.

Over the last two decades, the number of female-owned businesses rose by 74%.

Milestones That Sparked the Shift

Over the last two decades, the number of female-owned businesses rose by 74%. But before we look forward, we thought we’d take a look at how far we’ve come.

  • 1970s The Recession: This economic downturn meant women in corporate America were often the first to be laid off from their jobs. To their advantage, many of them used their expertises to launch their own businesses.
  • 1980s The Women’s Business Ownership Act: The US Congress passed the act in 1988. This ended lending discrimination, eliminated state laws requiring a husband’s signature for all loans and gave female entrepreneurs an opportunity to compete for government contracts.
  • 1990s Rise of the .com Era: The exposure to computers and the increasing popularity of the internet gave a much-needed boost to women in business. This allowed them to establish a presence in the business world and showcase their skills using a broader stream.
  • 2000s The Great Recession: Female entrepreneurs who endured the 2008 recession survived by controlling and cutting businesses costs. Using technology to draw new business in, they boosted their presence on social media by up to 52 percent.
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Female Entrepreneurship in 2017 and Beyond

Today, women represent 40% of new entrepreneurs in the United States. And, by next year, it’s expected that female-owned businesses will create more than 50% of new small business jobs and a third of the country’s total new jobs. At FreshBooks, we recently conducted a survey of 1,700 self-employed professionals and small business owners and found the following about women in the field.

From our data, female entrepreneurs are more likely than male entrepreneurs to:

  • Be proactive in managing their skills: They’re more likely to read industry-related blogs, maintain professional association memberships, follow industry contacts on social media, attend classes or training in-person
  • Work independently: They’re more likely to identify as sole proprietors
  • Achieve a higher level of education: They’re more likely to have graduated from post-secondary school
  • Upkeep family balance: They’re more likely to feel satisfied with the amount of quality time spent with family


With That in Mind, There Are Still Some Gaps to Fill

When we take a moment to reflect, it’s admirable to see how far our female entrepreneurs have come. We’ve been able to move the workplace forward through remarkable effort, but can’t ignore that there’s still some work to be done. Based on the information collected from the FreshBooks survey:

  • The Wage Gap Still Exists: In 2016, women were more likely to have lower revenue in than men
  • Women Are Still More Likely to Undersell Their Work: Women are 1.5 times more likely than men to accept work even though they knew it undervalued them
  • Female Entrepreneurs Are Still More Likely to Struggle with Understanding Their Worth: A small but significant number of women say that they’d like to charge more but struggle with believing in my their value

female entrepreneurship


about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.