Call it the Wonder Woman effect: Women-owned businesses are thriving, according to the seventh annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express OPEN, a comprehensive report released this past November, analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners and factoring in relative changes in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In fact, Washington is ranked No. 33 in growth of number of women-owned firms in the last 20 years, boasting a 66.5 percent total increase.
According to the report, Washington has an estimated 204,800 women-owned businesses, employing 188,700 and attributing to roughly $30,575,200,000.
In these last two decades, women-owned firms have grown at a rate of 2.5 times faster than the national average. The question is: Why?
Women are breaking the mold and embracing what it means to be themselves. They’re using their gifts and professional skills and they’re not afraid to get out there and make a difference. Eva Luchini, who owns her own law practice in Clark County, said that she felt pressure to fit into a mold that wasn’t her when she first started her career as an attorney in the 1990s.
“I felt pressure to fit into a mold that was not created with me in mind,” Luchini said. “Now as a mother and a grown-up woman practicing law here in Clark County, I feel free to break the mold and simply be myself. I go to our courthouse and I see it teeming with smart, capable, hardworking women … all working to serve the people of Clark County. There is a generosity of spirit and a willingness to help one another that I did not experience back when I started out and was often the only female in the room.”
Mary Sisson, owner of Kazoodles in Vancouver, agrees that women have decided to create their own opportunities for success, and she believes that the future is bright for women entrepreneurs.
“When you look at women’s salaries and opportunities in the corporate world, even after all these years of working toward equality, I think a lot of women have decided to create their own opportunities,” Sisson said. “Strong women have become role models. Women scientists create science kits aimed at letting girls experience the fun of science; other books and toys have come out with the message that girls can make things happen. At Toy Fair last year, it was clear that ‘girl power’ is on trend. I think the future generation is growing up without societal constraints that my generation faced.”
And while women have battled the balance of work and family for generations, women may feel more support now more than ever. Luchini reflected on this, sharing that perhaps women have more confidence in being the owners and directors of their own work.
“Perhaps more (women) have stopped waiting for someone to give them that promotion, that raise or that long awaited ‘atta-girl,’ and decided to put into service for themselves the old maxim that if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself.”
One thing is clear, women are continuing to unite—not only to grow their businesses and to contribute to the economy’s health, but to make the world a better place.
“I think women tend to be naturals at joining together for the greater good,” Sisson said. “The more we work together, the more success is shared by all of us. Women have a natural inclination toward friendship, and this can be powerful in the business world.”
To view the seventh annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report in its entirety, visit http://about.americanexpress.com/news/pr/2017/state-of-women-owned-businesses-2017-report.aspx.