Women-Owned Businesses Key to Economic Growth
Unprecedented success for women business owners reflects atypical philosophies, strengths and challenges
Much has changed since my son was born in 1986, but few developments during the past two decades offer as
great a “then and now” contrast as this fact: Less than twenty years ago, a bank
could legally refuse to make a business loan to a woman entrepreneur unless a
man co-signed the paperwork.
It was not until 1988,
when Congress passed the Women’s Business Ownership Act (WBOA), that such
discriminatory lending practices were outlawed. The WBOA (a) directed the Small
Business Administration to provide funding for financial, management and
marketing assistance programs for women-owned or -controlled start-up companies
and established businesses; (b) established the National Women’s Business
Council to review the status of women-owned businesses and to develop detailed
multi-year plans for private- and public-sector assistance and promotion for
such businesses; and (c) directed the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau
of the Census to keep statistics on women-owned businesses.
Women entrepreneurs also
benefited from such legislation as the Women’s Business Development Act of 1991
(which, in part, reauthorized the WBOA) and the Women Business Center
Sustainability Act of 1999.
Those laws and, more
important, the ambition and entrepreneurial spirit of American women, have
sparked explosive growth in the number and stature of women-owned businesses. In
recent years, that growth has accounted for a significant portion of the overall
expansion of the U.S. economy.
Arizona exemplifies this
welcome phenomenon. According to a study by the Center for Women’s Business
Research (“Women-Owned Businesses in 2004: Trends in the Top 50 Metropolitan
Areas”), from 1997 to 2004:
the number of
Phoenix-area companies in which a woman is the majority or sole owner has
increased by more than 30%;
employment by such
businesses grew by more than 49%; and
sales increased by a
The Center estimates that
the 136,845 women-owned businesses (54.7 % of all privately owned Phoenix-area
companies) generate $41 billion in sales and employ more than 304,400 people.
Those businesses encompass all industries, with the fastest growth seen in
construction, transportation, communications, and agricultural services.
It is reported that women launch 424 new enterprises every day, more than
twice the rate of start-ups by men. That disparity is attributable in part to
the fact that women are better educated and more experienced than at any time in
our history. In addition, women are more likely to receive training in larger
companies and then leave to start a business, spurred not only by the quest for
greater wealth but also, in many cases, by the desire for more flexibility in
hours, more opportunities for personal growth, and better relationships.
More than ever, women are
relying on other women to build relationships, to network, and to assist each
other in achieving business growth. When compared to business owners as a whole,
successful business women are often more eager to mentor and assist new women
business entrants into the marketplace. It is common for women business owners
to work together, formally or informally, to create a collegial and cooperative
atmosphere of assistance that results in a mutually beneficial and rewarding
Business approaches and
management styles tender to differ dramatically along gender lines. While
neither gender’s approach or style is clearly superior to that of the other, one
can generalize that, in business, women:
tend to emphasize
relationship building and fact gathering,
are more likely to
consult with others (including experts, employees and fellow business
may take more time to
make major decisions.
For those and other
reasons, many women feel more comfortable being advised and guided by other
Who’s in your corner?
Recognizing the importance of consulting with like-minded advisors in achieving
your business and personal goals, Sacks Tierney
has historically been comprised of a higher percentage of
women business attorneys than most Arizona law firms of its size or larger.
Further, we are the state’s largest independent law firm led by a women managing
We are committed to the
success of all of our clients, and we strive for excellence in providing the
legal services sought by business owners of either gender. We are especially
proud of our experience in helping women address their business challenges and
to capitalize on their inherent strengths in starting and operating a successful