Women Owned Small Businesses Enduring The Recession

What strategies did women owned small business owners use to ride out the recession and how are they recovering in its aftermath? Cutting costs was the major focus for most, reports Small Business: Lessons of the Recession, a new study by the NFIB, Chase Bank and the Center for Women’s Business Research.

economic storm

Here’s more of what they found:

Money matters: During the recession, 45 percent of women business owners said they had focused on cutting costs; 31 percent focused on increasing their sales. Overall, the majority on both sides felt they had made the right decision.

Getting social: Women small business owners also began to rely heavily on social media during the recession, which coincided with the growth of many social media tools. More than half say social media is either “very important” or “important” to their companies. Before the recession, just 4 percent of women business owners even used it.

Seeking outside help: Women owned companies that got outside help in either boosting sales or cutting costs – whether by outsourcing to consultants, accounting professionals or sales reps – were more successful (by 23 percent) than companies that tried to handle it on their own.

Getting involved: Thirty-nine percent of women business owners said they had gotten more involved in local or school activities during the recession to help raise their businesses’ profile in the community.

Being flexible: For some entrepreneurial women, surviving the recession required a major pivot. Nearly 25 percent of women business owners say they now market to a different customer base than they did before the recession. (However, the majority, 54 percent, succeeded by finding new business opportunities among the same customer base.)

Did it work? In some ways, women owned businesses are bouncing back. For example, 45 percent say they are hiring and just 9 percent are reducing staff. By comparison, during the recession, 36 percent report they cut staff and 40 percent cut their employees’ hours.

But by other important measures, women business owners are losing ground. Forty-one percent of women business owners say they’re now working even harder than they were when the recession was at its peak. Despite the extra effort, respondents say, their sales volume is still lower than when the recession began in 2007.

Clearly, these approaches and attitudes could easily be very similar for male business owners. Whether you’re a man or a woman, how do these figures jibe with your experience? What tactics have worked for your small business in riding out the recession?

Weathering Economic Storm Photo via Shutterstock

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Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

4 Reactions
  1. Getting help is hard to do, but a huge step in scaling a business. You may want to do everything yourself, but at some point you just aren’t able to do so.

  2. It’s good to see that women-owned businesses are bouncing back. And like what Robert said, getting help may not always be easy, but it’s definitely a good step in helping the business endure.

    • Yes Francesca, it is heartening to see women entrepreneurs bouncing back. It’s been a rough few years for all entrepreneurs, but hopefully there are better days ahead for all of us.