The United States has fostered an atmosphere of ambition, ingenuity, and enterprise for decades, if not centuries, making it one of the best countries in the world for the entrepreneurially-inclined. The Global Entrepreneurship Index actually ranks the U.S. as the best country in the world for entrepreneurs — and interestingly, Delaware is considered to be the most entrepreneur-friendly state. Not only do citizens have the drive and mindset for entrepreneurship, the “prevailing social and economic ‘infrastructure’” in the U.S. is well-suited to encourage and support those who choose to strike out on their own in the business world.
More specifically, women who are interested in pursuing business ownership are in good company. Between 1997 and 2017, the number of businesses owned by women in the U.S. has increased by more than 114 percent, and the revenue earned from these businesses has doubled in the same amount of time. The modern era is possibly the best time for female entrepreneurs in all of American history.
Of course, starting a business can still be demanding, and women face a unique set of challenges when doing so that their male counterparts do not. The path to business ownership can be intimidating, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from pursuing your goals. By learning about other female entrepreneurs, the ways they overcame obstacles, and what you need to do to start your own business, you’ll be well-armed with the knowledge necessary to begin a successful career as a female entrepreneur.
Facts and Statistics about Female Entrepreneurs
Plenty of women have become entrepreneurs and found success despite, or perhaps because of, the challenges involved. Not only are their collective accomplishments incredibly impressive, they reflect the improving conditions and growing success for all women entrepreneurs in the United States.
- Between 2017 and 2018, female entrepreneurs started an average of 1,821 new businesses each day.
- The State of Women-Owned Businesses Report found that women of color own 64 percent of those newly started businesses.
- The same report found that women-owned businesses generate over $1.8 trillion in revenues in 2018.
- The report also noted that three main industries account for half of all women- owned businesses: healthcare and social assistance, professional/scientific/technical services, and other services.
- The Black Women Business Startups Report found that when looking at different races and ethnicities, black women are the only racial group who own more businesses than their male counterparts.
- The number of female veterans who own their own business increased by almost 300 percent between 2007 and 2012.
- The Women in Business survey reported that women entrepreneurs are more educated than their male counterparts. 72 percent of female business owners have a higher degree, compared to 64 percent of male business owners.
- The same survey noted that 71 percent of female-owned businesses are profitable, which is lower than the 80 percent of male-owned businesses.
- According to The Megaphone of Main Street: Women’s Entrepreneurship data report, women-owned businesses are as successful as male-owned businesses when comparing business starts, growth of revenue, job creation, and the number of years in business.
- The same data report noted that mentorship plays a huge role in the success of female-owned businesses. Women entrepreneurs who work with a mentor for five or more hours per week are more likely to be successful in business, regardless of their mentor’s gender.
- Female entrepreneurs are reportedly three times happier than women who don’t own their own business, regardless of whether that business is established or new.
Successful Female Entrepreneurs
There are thousands, if not millions, of wildly successful female entrepreneurs around the world. Each of these women started with an idea, and with patience and hard work, they were able to transform that idea into a prosperous business. Some women have transformed online media, while others have revolutionized the fashion industry — a few of them are even household names. Some of the most famous women entrepreneurs today include:
- Arianna Huffington: Huffington created a news website, The Huffington Post — now HuffPost — in 2005, which marked the beginning of her career as an entrepreneur. She has since sold the site to launch and manage Thrive Global, offer wellbeing improvement courses, and write a series of books. Her net worth is estimated to be $50 million. Her advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs is “to make sure that entrepreneurs connect with their own wisdom and creativity.”
- Cher Wang: Wang co-founded a smartphone development and vending company, HTC Corporation, in 1997. Despite a challenging market, she has remained its leader since HTC’s creation. Though her first business, Leo Computers, failed, her net worth is now roughly $1.6 billion. Men dominate the tech industry, but she continues to be one of the most influential people in tech today.
- Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw: One of the first female entrepreneurs in India, Mazumdar-Shaw co-founded biopharmaceutical company Biocon Limited in 1978 at age 25. She is also India’s only self-made female billionaire. To other women entrepreneurs, she says: “forget about all the criticism, it is going to be there. Believe in what you are doing and you will succeed.”
- Oprah Winfrey: Since beginning her career as an entrepreneur, Winfrey has founded three different companies: Harpo Productions, the Oprah WinfreyNetwork, and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. She has become one of the most famous female entrepreneurs of all time, and has worked as a media executive, actress, producer, author, and talk show host. As of January 2019, her net worth is $2.6 billion.
- Sara Blakely: Blakely invested her entire life savings into her line of shaping underwear at age 29. After facing countless rejections, her company, Spanx, skyrocketed to success once Oprah Winfrey named the undergarments as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things; her net worth is now $1.4 billion. She advises other female entrepreneurs to be “very authentic in your message, stay vulnerable, be yourself through the process.”
- Sophia Amoruso: Amoruso started her entrepreneurial career by selling vintage clothes on an eBay store called Nasty Gal in 2006. Though Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy in 2015, Amoruso has since gone on to found Girlboss Media, a website aimed at creating content to advise and empower other women. Her advice to other female entrepreneurs is to make a plan, hold others accountable for their actions and responsibilities, and to find as much support as possible.
- Yang Lan: Lan is one of the most influential women in Chinese media; her multi-platform media company spans television, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. In addition to being one of the co-founders of Sun Media Group, she has worked as a talk show host and a journalist. She is widely regarded as “China’s Oprah.”
Of course, you don’t have to become a celebrity or a billionaire to be a successful female entrepreneur. In fact, many women report that increased flexibility is the primary reason they want to work for themselves; 74 percent claimed that flexibility is more important than making more money.
To become as successful, try to determine your personal goals for your business and define what entrepreneurial success means for you. Part of becoming an entrepreneur is going down your own path, instead of following others’ footsteps. Let these women and their journeys be an inspiration to your own efforts, rather than a rulebook you need to follow