Do Men and Women Have Different Small Business Outlooks?

men and women in small business

How are men and women entrepreneurs feeling about their businesses’ prospects for the coming year? The 5th in a series of studies by Hiscox Small Business, the DNA of an Entrepreneur (PDF), found that while both men and women small business owners are optimistic about their futures, there are some important differences in how they run their businesses.

Overall, half of all entrepreneurs are optimistic about the coming year. That’s a decrease from last year, when 55 percent of all U.S. small business owners said they were optimistic about the coming year.

The level of optimism relates closely to how much growth the entrepreneurs had experienced—and when it came to growth, there wasn’t a huge difference between men and women.

About 50 percent of men and 45 percent of women say their businesses had increased sales in the past 12 months, while 57 percent of men and 52 percent of women have added new customers. The growth gap between the genders has narrowed quite a bit since Hiscox’s 2011 survey, when 43 percent of male small business owners had revenue growth compared to just 34 percent of women.

Both men and women also feel pretty much the same about government and its relationship with small business. Almost two-thirds of men (62 percent) and women (63 percent) think the tax system doesn’t favor small businesses, while 64 percent of men and 61 percent of women feel that bureaucracy is a “major barrier” to starting a small business.

Where Do Men and Women in Small Business Differ?

Hours Worked

Male small business owners are more likely to be working full-time hours or more, while females are more likely to be working part-time. About a third (34 percent) of men say they work an average of 40 to 49 hours per week; the same percentage of women say they work an average of 29 hours or less per week.

The difference makes sense when you consider that a whopping 70 percent of women in the study say “flexibility over working hours” is a main benefit of running their own businesses as compared to being an employee. In contrast, most men say “less bureaucracy” was the main benefit to running their own companies.

But working fewer hours could also be holding women’s growth back.

Hiring Plans

More than twice as many men as women (32 percent vs. 15 percent) say they plan to hire new staff in the coming year. Considering how many women in the study work part-time, perhaps they don’t need employees.

On the other hand, perhaps hiring (whether employees, interns or independent contractors) could help their companies grow beyond part-time status, while delegating to those workers could enable women business owners to keep enjoying the same flexibility and limited hours they cherish.

Social Media Use

Female business owners are more likely than men to use social media in almost all facets of their business operations. Women were more likely than men to use social media to stay in touch with customers; for communications, marketing and public relations; for prospecting; for internal use and for market research.

The only area where men were more likely to use social media was hiring (18 percent of men use it, compared to 7 percent of women). It’s no secret women in general are more active on many social networks—apparently, the difference carries over to the business world too.

Men, step up your social game, and you could see corresponding business growth.

Men and Women 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.

3 Reactions
  1. Quite enlightening. It is interesting to take a look at how men and women differ in terms of handling their business. It seems that women are more social while men are more focused. You can really take these into consideration even when you’re hiring someone.

  2. Men work an average of 40 to 49 hours per week, while women work an average of 29 hours or less per week probably due to family commitment like taking care of the kids.

  3. I would assume that the outlooks are quite the same as all entrepreneurs all have that same gene that makes them what they are, regardless if they are male or female.