For years, researchers of entrepreneurship have written about the differences between male and female business owners in terms of management style and firm growth.
Now a recent study supported by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, CHASE and Center for Women’s Business Research reveals how women-owned companies coped with the recession, which confirms much of what we have previously known about the management decisions of women entrepreneurs.
The basic strategy used by female entrepreneurs to fight the recession was to control costs. While others focused solely on increasing sales, the majority of women surveyed opted to reduce expenses to bring more to the bottom line. Could that be as a result of women’s experience in budgeting and controlling costs in most households, often doing more with less?
As was the case with many entrepreneurs, the recession forced female business owners to seek new customers and markets. And among the female entrepreneurs who sought to increase sales, they did so by emphasizing customer service and enhancing their selling skills. A second approach was to become more involved in civic, school, social and business organizations in their community. This, of course, greatly confirms what we have always seen among the ranks of female entrepreneurs – they are master networkers. Relationships – with customers, employees, partners and the community at large – are extremely important to them. In this case, those relationships likely played a key role in their companies surviving the recession.
As the downturn began, women-owned businesses decreased their promotional efforts. In particular, they decreased spending on direct mail, print and broadcast and turned their attention more to Internet-based promotion. Social media came into its own during the recession, and women business owners were at the front of the line to incorporate these new tools.
And a final finding, which is no surprise, is that women business owners reported spending significantly more time at the business than they had prior to the recession. 49 percent of the respondents said they put in longer hours. Some 64 percent of those fearing bankruptcy as the only option burned the midnight oil.
Most of the respondents indicated that their business is significantly different than it was before the downturn. Some are smaller and have fewer employees. Some are more efficiently managed. Whatever the changes, most female owners feel their company is stronger than before the recession, a conclusion that bodes well for women-owned firms coming out of one of the most challenging economic environments in recent years.
Makes one wonder what the situation might be here