The future in Canada looks bright for female entrepreneurs. Don’t believe me?
Right now, women are starting more businesses than men. It’s a fast-growing market and here’s why: women are more educated than ever before. According to The Canadian Trade Commissioner Services, the percentage of women with a post-secondary degree or diploma has increased from 43% in 1990 to 71% today[i]. Accessibility to technology has enabled women to start a business from the comfort of their living rooms while raising a young family. Another reason is the current state of corporate Canada. Today, only 3% of women are CEOs and less than 16% are on executive boards[ii]. With such low numbers, many women have decided to control and create their career path instead of waiting for change.
Because of these reasons, the number of female entrepreneurs is growing. In 2012, there were close to 1 million self-employed women in Canada[iii]. Women are stepping out and taking the chance to run their own business, which is a good thing for them but also for the rest of the country.
Here’s why female entrepreneurs are a good thing for the Canadian economy:
- Increases economic activity: Majority female-owned small and medium-sized enterprises represent over $117 billion per year of economic activity in Canada[iv].
- Stabilizes job market: When a woman decides to start a business, she tends to stay in business longer which provides stability for her employees and the marketplace[v].
- Creates a lot of jobs: Female-owned firms are more active in hiring new employees than majority male-owned firms. In a 2013 report, they created almost 10,000 jobs[vi].
Keeping these economic advantages in mind, there are still gaps and hurdles for women looking to start their own business. Access to capital remains to be a big roadblock. In a report titled, A Force to Reckon With, issued by the Bank of Montreal (BMO) and Carleton University, 80% agree that they face obstacles obtaining bank financing.
“We know women are starting more business than men. It’s a growing market segment for sure and it’s one that I don’t think has received a lot of attention,” said Susan Brown, BMO senior vice-president and head of women’s strategy.[vii]
There’s a tremendous opportunity for financial institutions and professional services firms to pay close attention to female entrepreneurs.
If you’ve always wanted to own a business, here are some tips on how to take the plunge:
- Invest in yourself: Enroll in courses, workshops or programs that develop your skill-set. Identify areas that you need to build competency. As a business owner, at least for the first bit of time, you’ll need to be a Jane of all trades—that means you’ll need to understand accounting, marketing, and sales. Once you’re ready to hire staff or outsource, you’ll have enough general knowledge about the subject matter to make an informed decision and hire the right team members.
- Build a strong, healthy network: Attend networking events and establish regular connections with your contacts. A solid business relationship is not built on “what’s in it for me” but on reciprocity. Make sure you give back to the individual as much as you take. Offer advice or become a mentor and the same benefits will come back to you. A great organization for young female professionals is Lean In Canada. They host monthly events covering a multitude of topics to help build women’s skills and confidence.
- Don’t be limited by the limitations: Resources for a female entrepreneur aren’t ideal. Financing, grants, and special funding opportunities are lacking. Yes, they should be addressed (maybe in an upcoming blog), however, do not use today’s limitations to limit your possibilities. Keep pursuing your goals regardless of the hurdles. These barriers will make you a tougher and more resourceful businesswoman.
Here are some additional resources:
- Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs
- Financing and Support Organizations for Women in Canada
- Canadian Boss Ladies You Need to Know
- Canada’s Most Powerful Women
- Canada a Global Pace-Setter for Female Entrepreneurs, but Barriers Still Exist
- Women Entrepreneurs Embrace Risk Differently