The Washington Post

Study: Women-owned businesses have “turned the corner” in recession recovery

Though the effects of the recession still linger, women-owned businesses appear to have turned the corner in their recovery efforts, many of them by reaching out to a new group of customers and employing new marketing strategies.

Compared with their lowest points during the recession, 45 percent of female business owners report that they are currently increasing their number of employees compared with just 9 percent who are still cutting back on staff, according to a new study released Wednesday by the National Federation of Independent Business, Chase Card Services and the Center for Women’s Business Research. Nevertheless, the recovery is far from complete, as most women-owned firms still have a smaller staff than they did before the recession began.

“The data indicates that many women-owned businesses adjusted to the new, volatile circumstances, by making changes to their businesses,” William Dennis, NFIB’s senior research fellow, said in a statement. “What is encouraging is that many of these adjustments appear to have been institutionalized.”

The study also shows that, in weathering the recession, more women entrepreneurs sought to control costs (45 percent) than increase their sales (31 percent). Looking back, a solid majority of those women said they felt good about their chosen strategy.

The economic downturn forced many women to look to new clients and new promotional tactics in order to keep their companies afloat. Forty-three percent said they reached out to new customers and new markets in the last few years, and half are now using social media to promote their businesses, up from a four percent prior to the recession.

“During the recession, women-owned small businesses did the best they could with the few choices they had available to remain open for business, and they’re stronger today for it,” Center for Women’s Business Research Chairwoman Patricia Greene said.

Other findings from the study:

●41 percent of female business owners say they are currently working longer hours than they were during the height of the recession.

●39 percent of women-owned businesses increased their involvement in civic, social or school activities to increase their exposure during the recession.

●3 percent hired a technology consultant during the recession, more than any other form of outside professional service.

Follow J.D. Harrison and On Small Business on Twitter.

J.D. Harrison covers startups, small business and entrepreneurship, with a focus on public policy, and he runs the On Small Business blog.



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