2011-10-19 / Business News

WOMEN RISE ABOVE

Report shows women not only succeeding in business, but exceeding their male counterparts
BY BILL CORNWELL

WOMEN HAVE LONG FACED THE daunting task of breaking the “glass ceiling” in the business world, historically dominated by an exclusive network of males. But now comes a report that shows that women are not only succeeding in business, they are exceeding their male counterparts.

The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute has found that women who begin small businesses are on the verge of becoming the primary vehicle for job creation in the United States. According to the institute, small businesses run by women will create more than five million new jobs in the United States in the next seven years.

Forbes magazine says the Guardian study reveals that women who begin small businesses will “transform the workplace of tomorrow into a far more inclusive, horizontally managed environment.”

Moreover, the Guardian report says that its study of female-owned small businesses shows that women are often better managers, more attuned to customers’ needs and more closely aligned with marketplace trends.


Cindee Murphy, owner of Pies & Plates in Punta Gorda. 
COURTESY PHOTO Cindee Murphy, owner of Pies & Plates in Punta Gorda. COURTESY PHOTO “(The Guardian report) doesn’t really surprise me,” says Cindee Murphy, owner the popular Pies & Plates restaurant and store in Punta Gorda. “I think women are often more creative and willing to think out of the box than men.”

Mrs. Murphy says women are often also, by nature, “more in tune with the cares of customers and what their customers need.”

Starting a small business, Mrs. Murphy continues, also eliminates the glass ceiling that often exists in large corporations.

“When you own your business,” she says, “you rise and fall on how you perform. It’s a matter of how hard you are willing to work and how capable you are.”


HANSEN HANSEN The Guardian study says women who own businesses are “more externally focused than their male counterparts.” Additionally, Guardian notes that women are “more open to taking advice and deriving valuable information from others.”

In short, women business owners are less likely to involve their egos into matters relating to their work.

“Men do have some hang-ups when it comes to seeking advice and then taking it,” says Peg Goldberg Longstreth, who has long run an art gallery in Naples.

“Women often have had to find less traditional (methods of making) their way,” she says.

“Some avenues that were open to men weren’t open to women. At some point, many women have had to ask, ‘Okay, what can I do to make a living?’ That thought can inspire a lot of creativity.”

Ms. Longstreth also knows that while small businesses can thrive, they also are vulnerable to the vagaries of the economy.

Such is the case with her art gallery, which will soon shutter its doors.

“In the art world, there has been a depression, not a recession,” she says. “The market has absolutely collapsed.”

But Ms. Longstreth, like other women surveyed in the Guardian report, is not only talented but resilient as well. She has had a varied career, embracing everything from music to an important job in health-care administration.

She has started, in recent years, businesses in writing and publishing and has become a principal in a firm based in Europe.

So, even with closing her gallery, Ms. Longstreth says will be “busier than ever.”

“For many women,” she says, “it is important to succeed, because for very long the odds have been stacked against (us). I’ve never taken anything for granted.”

This fierce will to succeed, the Guardian report states, is a hallmark of successful small business owners.

Female owners, Guardian posits, are “more diligently engaged in strategic and tactical facets of their business.”

Surprisingly, Guardian found that “women-owned businesses are more often self-funded than male-owned ones and are therefore less reliant on bank financing at a time when many say small business lending practices are more restricted.”

In the end, though, Teri Hansen, president of Priority Marketing in Fort Myers, says performance, not gender, is what rules.

“It doesn’t surprise me (that more women are starting businesses),” she says.

But Ms. Hansen, whose firm has been in place for almost two decades, says the quality of one’s services is what matters most.

Guardian found that women who own small businesses tend to be more appreciative of their ownership than their male counterparts.

In that regard, Ms. Hansen concurs.

“I know as a female owner, I am very appreciative of what we have accomplished,” she says.

Guardian concludes that the rise of women owning small businesses and succeeding will have a profound effect throughout our society.

In fact, it predicts that the rising tide of female entrepreneurs “will create more opportunity for employees to grow in their jobs, encourage others to start their own small businesses and inspire a greater commitment to customer service and retention.”

As Ms. Longstreth observes, “That is a good thing for everyone — male and female.” ¦

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