Women in Business: Do You Have These Characteristics?

Statistics paint a rosy picture for female entrepreneurs. According to the 2013 State of Women-Owned Businesses report commissioned by American Express OPEN, there are 8.6 million women business owners in America, accounting for 29% of all U.S. enterprises, making $1.3 trillion in revenue and employing 7.8 million individuals. The rate of growth for women-owned businesses is 1 ½ times greater than the national average.

Yet, I can’t help but think the numbers could—and should—be greater. Women are increasingly successful as leaders, but the attitudes, behaviors and circumstances of male business owners tend to tip the scales in their favor. So what are the differences between the two?

My evidence is anecdotal, but drawing from my own experience working with women (45% of KeyRoad’s clients and 24% of our Twitter followers are women), I’ve found four major distinctions between male and female business owners. These characteristics permeate how they interact with their suppliers, prospects, clients, employees, bankers and investments.

1. Women owners are significantly more risk averse than their male counterparts.

  • They to engage in a less competitive industry or market space.
  • They hire less frequently and more cautiously than men.
  • They analyze and ponder before making an investment decision.

(I’ll leave it to psychologists or other experts to explain why, though point number 3 in next week’s post may have something to do with it.) Over the years I’ve adjusted my selling, mentoring, and empowering of women business owners to reflect this cautionary approach. Check out this interesting Forbes blog on women business owners and financial loans.

2. Women owners tend to be less willing or able compartmentalize

Men tend to be very skilled at separating their personal lives from their professional successes or failures. Terrific at deflecting responsibility for (mostly) failures, men don’t let setbacks bother them for too long. 

Women owners, however, tend to take their business decisions and their consequences—intended or not– very personally. It slips into their environment and they have a hard time detaching these instances from their own perceptions of success or failure.

Next week we’ll cover the next two differences I’ve noted in my female clientele. In the meantime, what are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with the differences I’ve identified? 


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