Lack of networking opportunities, access to capital, and obtaining funding top the list of intensifying challenges women business owners are facingWILMINGTON, DEL., June 24, 2020—As the U.S. begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and business leaders confront new and unique challenges, peer networks are more critical than ever in helping business owners survive and thrive. Yet, according to a new survey, Wilmington Trust Business Owners Outlook: The Power of the Pack—developed in collaboration with the Committee of 200 (C200), a women’s executive leadership organization—female business owners are increasingly facing substantial challenges in gaining equal access to support networks, obtaining capital to grow their businesses, and managing family dynamics.
- 26% of women surveyed cited a lack of peer networks as a challenge to growing their business compared to just 14% of men; further exacerbated by COVID-19
- Twice as many women entrepreneurs (16%) as men (8%) feel that women will never be equal to men when it comes to accessing capital
- Female founders of businesses only obtain 61% of the capital they are seeking, compared to 68% for men
- Women are far more likely than men to have a spouse involved in running the business—50% of women vs. 39% of men—complicating family dynamics
In conjunction with the report, Wilmington Trust and the C200 interviewed a number of women business owners about their unique personal experiences of owning and operating a business. Their video stories are available on Wilmington Trust’s Business Owners Outlook microsite. The microsite also features a recent webinar hosted by Wilmington Trust that looked in depth at issues women business owners are facing in the COVID-19 era, including challenges and opportunities for minority women-owned businesses.
In 2019, M&T Bank, the parent company of Wilmington Trust, created a new banking group to work with and support minority- and women-owned businesses. The bank recognized that minority- and women-owned businesses are a fast-growing segment, but they continue to face a number of hurdles, including access to capital, winning government contracts, and expanding their networks.
“Over the past 50 years, there's been an incredible surge in minority women-owned businesses. From 1972 to 2019, the percentage of women-owned businesses increased from 4.2% to 42%. We’ve seen a similar increase with the minority-owned business demographic, and much of that growth has been driven by businesses owned by women of color,” said Detra Miller, head of Minority Owned Business Banking for M&T Bank. “Our team was created to listen to the needs of minority- and women-owned businesses in our communities, understand the challenges they are facing on their entrepreneurial journey, and work with them to increase access to capital, help them expand their networks, and provide the resources they need to succeed.”
“The pandemic has transformed the way in which we network and interact, and has underscored the need for transparent, authentic, and frequent communication,” said Carolyn Dolezal. “For business owners, and women business owners in particular, this means focusing on the quality of your connections versus the quantity, whether that means doing virtual coffees or even personalized messages and cards. Being creative in this environment is the key to ensuring your network can thrive and grow.”
- When it comes to using personal funds for business, the report found that women less frequently tap personal assets to support their enterprises than men do (31% versus 43%, respectively)
- When women do invest in their own companies, however, they tend to do so at a higher level than men, especially company founders (45% women versus 36% men)
- Though more business owners involve sons in their businesses than daughters (65% versus 43%, respectively), women business owners (56%) are far more likely to involve daughters than male business owners (38%)
“Traditionally, business owners across genders have not invested in developing the business skills of their female heirs into business leaders,” said Marguerite Weese, national director, Family Legacy Strategies at Wilmington Trust. “But it’s clear that women are eager to get their daughters involved. By educating them on business fundamentals and financial literacy from an early age—and by identifying mentors, both inside and outside the family—owners can help the next generation of women build the leadership skills they need to prosper.”
Owners of businesses with revenue of $5 million+ were asked to complete a survey regarding business and economic outlooks, along with perceptions of personal business performance. The survey took place February 21 to March 11 and feedback was provided by 1,009 owners. For more information, please visit: https://www.wilmingtontrust.com/businessowners/.
About Wilmington Trust
Wilmington Trust’s Wealth Advisory offers a wide array of personal trust, financial planning, fiduciary, asset management, private banking, and family office services designed to help high-net-worth individuals and families grow, preserve, and transfer wealth. Wilmington Trust focuses on serving families with whom it can build long-term relationships, many of which span multiple generations.
Wilmington Trust also provides Corporate and Institutional Services for clients around the world.
Wilmington Trust has clients in all 50 states and numerous countries, with offices throughout the United States and internationally in London, Dublin, Paris, and Frankfurt. For more information, visit www.wilmingtontrust.com.
C200 is a not-for-profit organization with an educational mission whose members include more than 500 of the world's most successful female corporate executives and entrepreneurs. By sharing their success, C200 members are supporting and advancing future generations of women leaders worldwide.