Special to The Truth
Even as they ride out inflationary pressures, supply chain disruptions and economic uncertainty, women owners and executives of small and mid-size majority-women-owned businesses have an optimistic outlook about the near-term future of their businesses, according to a recent survey.
The PNC Bank survey found that women business owner (WBO) expectations for their own companies remain strong, with 41 percent feeling highly optimistic — up from 29 percent in the fall of 2020 but down from 67 percent in the fall of 2021 — while the share of those feeling pessimistic has held constant at just one percent.
The survey also indicated that more than eight in 10 women business owners are very confident about their future success and nearly half say it comes from their own hard work and drive. Similarly, 79 percent of WBOs are very satisfied with their role as a business owner or leader compared to 67 percent of men business owners (MBOs).
“We are seeing a new pattern of self-empowerment among women business owners that is very encouraging,” said Beth Marcello, director of PNC Women’s Business Development. “Their own hard work to survive the pandemic is the source of their confidence and optimism today.”
The survey suggests that women have a take charge, can-do attitude. When it was difficult to find employees, 49 percent of WBOs versus one-third of MBOs say that they or their managers stepped in to cover open staff hours themselves. Additionally, they’re focused on growth: 81 percent surveyed are Woman Business Enterprise-certified, 73 percent market their certification, and 88 percent say that certification has been a helpful business development tool.
“For the first time, we have evidence of increased financial confidence among women business owners. They are two times more likely than men to say they’re considering a new loan or line of credit to support business growth,” said Marcello. “They are monitoring their cash position and have a cash reserve, but they’re investing excess cash rather than stockpiling it; they are continuing to leverage the increased efficiency of the digital financial tools they migrated to during the pandemic; and they are confidently increasing pricing as the economy allows for it.”
Meeting the Challenges
While WBOs have concerns about inflation, profitability and the supply chain, they believe they’re prepared for these challenges. Although similar portions of WBOs and MBOs experienced supply chain issues in the past year, 79 percent of WBOs believe they have the right amount of inventory they need to succeed.
WBOs also intend to maintain or expand on policies they initiated during the pandemic, including allowing flexible work arrangements (48 percent), increasing compensation (38 percent) and implementing employee health or safety enhancements (33 percent). WBOs are more likely than MBOs to adopt Corporate Social Responsibility policies or practices, including gender pay equity (34 percent vs. 9 percent) and diversity and inclusion (29 percent vs. 14 percent). These disparities could be an indication of why fewer WBOs (30 percent) than MBOs (43 percent) are finding it harder to hire new staff compared to six months ago.
Identifying and addressing challenges faced by women financial decision makers is a component of PNC’s Project 257: Accelerating Women’s Financial Equality, an initiative to help close the 257-year economic gender gap. More information about these efforts as well as helpful resources for women financial decision makers can be found at pnc.com/women. To connect with Project 257, follow PNC on social media: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.
While the pandemic created new economic challenges, many with lasting effects, women business owners largely overcame these obstacles, taking away lessons that have inspired their optimism and confidence today.