Factors Influencing the Growth of Women-Owned Businesses – Risk Tolerance, Motivations, Expectations, and Culture


In our continued effort to provide resources for Entrepreneurial Women Over 40 herein is a resource from the National Women’s Business Council:

About the NWBC

The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) is a non-partisan federal advisory council created to serve as an independent source of advice and counsel to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners. The Council is the government’s only independent voice for women entrepreneurs. Members are prominent women business owners and leaders of women’s business organizations. NWBC is composed of 15 members who are appointed to three-year terms.


Like all entrepreneurs, women business owners face many challenges in making their entrepreneurship dreams a reality.  Some of the challenges faced by women may be specific to women, due to the historical and cultural context within which they do their work.  Women have the challenge of confronting and overcoming the historical barriers of being kept out of business and capital markets until the late 1980s.  Even today, women’s access to information (or lack thereof) about financing strategies and opportunities may be limited due to a lack of access to the social networks where many key decision makers and capital players make deals.  A lack of information about financing a business may result in more women raising lower levels of capital or pursuing only debt financing, which can limit their growth potential.  Even more challenging are the cultural and personal challenges that women may face.  Many women business owners also need to manage family-related responsibilities that still fall disproportionately on women despite progress in this area.  Finally, some women struggle with being comfortable with living through and overcoming risk and failure, a critical skill set for any entrepreneur.  Women still trail men in size of business and business receipts, and women need to become more comfortable with risk in order to grow their businesses.  All of these issues hit close to home for many successful business owners, yet, they are important to continue to explore, particularly in relation to how women start, grow, and expand their businesses.

The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) initiated this research to understand the reasons behind the general lag of women-owned business growth in terms of business size and receipts, as compared to firms owned by men.  Other studies have indicated that, on the whole, women and men approach entrepreneurship differently.  In order to assist women, and the nation, to advance economically, the NWBC looked to the research to provide insights on key considerations when reaching out to women entrepreneurs to encourage maximum growth of their businesses.  The research centered on questions about three key attitudinal areas associated with business ownership and growth: risk tolerance, motivations, and expectations.  The research team also listened for instances where culture could be influencing behaviors or experiences.

About the Research

This research was conducted by Public Policy Associates (PPA), Incorporated, a public policy research, development, and evaluation firm headquartered in Lansing, Michigan.  The research was qualitative in nature with the goal of exploring attitudes and preferences; as such, it is not meant to be representative of all women business owners.  The research was based primarily on focus groups and telephone interviews with 81 women entrepreneurs from three metropolitan locations in the United States (Houston, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.).  The participants were organized into four segments of women business owners: (1) having high-growth expectations, (2) having moderate-growth expectations, (3) having children at home, and (4) making frequent use of outside advisors (such as lawyers and accountants).   These categories were selected by the NWBC and PPA because the team hypothesized that these business and personal characteristics might have an influence on attitudes about risk and motivations for starting a business.  Overall, the women in the study tended to be more diverse, more educated, and older than the population of women business owners nationally.  However, they were roughly similar in terms of business size (defined as gross receipts and number of employees).

Key Findings

Risk –  It’s about managing risk, not avoiding it.

  • The study participants who were most risk tolerant also held high expectations for business performance and growth.  Business owners who already have high expectations and are comfortable with risk appeared to be on track to grow their businesses.
  • Utilization of outside advisors was not associated with greater tolerance for risk.  However, most participants used one or more outside resources, and all participants recognized the value of such resources, particularly during the startup phase.  Participants recognized that external advisors could assist in mitigating risk during growth.  NWBC has concluded that finding the right advisors can help a business owner develop confidence and become more comfortable with risk.
  • Because of the inherent instability of micro-businesses in the market due to business cycles and changes in market dynamics, the riskiest strategy may, in fact, be the unwillingness to take necessary risks.
  • Investing in hiring new staff or consultants was seen as a highly risky activity and was viewed with caution. There seemed to be difficulty among some owners in delegating daily management responsibilities, as owners were concerned about finding employees that they could trust.

Motivations – The original personal motivations for becoming a business owner drive the subsequent path that a business takes, and perhaps the owner’s willingness to take risks.

  • The business owners in this study were mostly motivated by independence, flexibility, and work-family balance. Wealth creation in terms of net worth, as defined by these women, was not a motivator that these women had in common.
  • One distinction among the segments was that more women in the high-growth expectations segment said that they started their businesses in order to capitalize on an opportunity or to fill a gap in the market than women in any of the other segments.
  • The original personal motivations for becoming a business owner may well drive the subsequent path that a business takes, and perhaps the owner’s willingness to take risks. NWBC has concluded that these original motivations need to be considered potential influencers on business growth planning.
  • Women entrepreneurs who are highly motivated to grow their firms take tangible, consistent steps toward that end.

Expectations – Women define growth in similar ways, but have different timelines and strategies for achieving it.  In many ways, growth appears to be a choice. 

  • Growth was not a central focus for many at the outset of their businesses; rather, the focus was on startup and stabilization.  With more experience as a business owner came more attention to growth, ostensibly from an increase in confidence in running the business.
  • There did seem to be difficulty among some owners in delegating daily management responsibilities (e.g., processing payroll), which may be compromising business growth potential.  The owners were concerned about finding employees that they could trust, as mentioned above in the section on risk.
  • This study found that women entrepreneurs with high-growth intent are, in fact, making strategic decisions that best positioned them for growth, particularly through marketing.

Cultural Influences – Women business owners juggle multiple roles.

  • The owners saw success in business as a reflection of their personal and professional success.  However, the point at which an owner considers herself sufficiently successful seems to be influenced heavily by a need to balance business success with success in other areas of her life.
  • Perceived expectations and norms around women’s responsibilities and roles (e.g. within their households) had at least some influence on business growth decisions, as well as ownership decisions.  Risk taking, motivations, and expectations were all affected.
  • Women business owners are taking a holistic view of work and personal life.  Women expressed concerns about adding focus on business growth to their current workloads, which include home and workplace leadership roles and responsibilities.
  • Women business owners with children at home defined risks in terms of family finances, personal time, and personal reputation.  In the high- and moderate-growth segments, the owners pointed to risks associated with business investments and finances more frequently.

Policy and Program Implications

The factors that influence the growth of women-owned businesses are dynamic and interrelated. Motivations for starting a business can impact both expectations for growth and tolerance of risk. NWBC believes that policy and programming for women business owners should help women to see how to remain true to their motivations for business ownership while accomplishing business expansion and wealth creation.  This study reveals a number of considerations:

  • Programs:  We need to focus as much on expansion as on startup and stabilization. Particularly valuable may be training on second-stage business assessments, expansion planning, or similar resources for those women business owners who are beyond the startup stage, but are not confident about how to pursue growth on their own.
  • Programs:  Women in this study appeared to struggle from front-line service provider to CEO as their business grew.  Programs should emphasize problem solving to achieve goals and encourage the use of resources and tools.  Training on organizational development, human resources, and hiring may assist women in finding the right people as advisors or employees, and increase their confidence in making smart decisions about expanding their workforce and delegating responsibilities.
  • Messaging:  In addition to advocating for ‘risk taking,’ organizations working with women business owners should focus on risk management and positioning for opportunity as part of business growth planning and implementation.  It may be that owners who appear to be willing to take big risks are in fact just better at seeing how to manage or mitigate the risks required for successful business ownership.
  • Messaging:  Programs that recognize that business ownership is a viable path to generate wealth, including adequate retirement savings, and that provides strategies to help owners get to that point, would likely be valuable to women business owners of all ages.  In general, the value of business growth in connection with other goals, like helping one’s community or family, may resonate better.
  • Messaging:  Acknowledge the multiple roles that women business owners play (work, home, community) and their desire to perform well in their roles.



Women’s March Against Tyranny Anthem | I CAN’T KEEP QUIET

As the song says, I CAN’T KEEP QUIET any longer.  

This weekend something happened to all of us — both women and the men that love us at the 627 national and international marches against the demagogue and fascist that is Trump.  The Resistance has begun in full swing and a sisterhood has been born unto the world!

This song is an anthem of solidarity in a movement against the belligerence and hate of Trump that pulls out and legitimizes the racist, the misogynist, — the morons that make up the lowest common denominators amongst us all!  Showing solidarity for women and all the other issues surrounding Trump’s horrific rhetoric (grab her by the p…sy) – remember, women wore pink “pussy-hats”.   I know that we must move on and I accept that Trump is the president.  


I condemn his unabashed bigotry, and his hateful comments about women, Muslims, Hispanics, and other marginalized groups.  I condemn him for mocking Serge Kovaleski, and for welcoming white supremacists into his administration. I condemn him for running a campaign based on division . I condemn his inability to admit personal fault.  I condemn his lack of intellectual curiosity and his disrespect for American norms and values.  I condemn his lack of vision to understand in the most basic terms that life without the arts is not worth living!  Arts and the humanities get the truth of things in life, so naturally Trump and his administration want to de-fund them and paint #AlternativeFacts! 
As an article written by Jesse Berney about 3 days ago in Rolling Stones states:

The day before Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the United States – an actual event taking place in the universe we live in – news broke that his administration plans to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities. And I wanted to scream.

This is Donald Trump’s America: one where things like art and books and science and learning and thoughtful consideration of complicated problems are deemed worthless and tossed aside. This can’t be surprising after the Trump we saw on the campaign trail, the man who never answered a question with a hint of intelligence or depth.

Therefore, on the most fundamental level, I condemn Trump as a human being!
In closing,  please share this with your friends. This Anthem needs to get out there. 

Here’s the back story:  Apparently, these women are all from different states and never met till the day of the march. They practiced this song online using Skype and they only met once before the march. Some met that day for the first time!  This song and it’s sentiment made me cry when I heard it because the beauty and the harmony of their voices captured for me how women can come together to find their voice. I find it healing and empowering in the best possible way.

#TogetherWeRise #OneWomansRiot #iCantkeepquiet

Here are the lyrics.

Written by MILCK and AG
Produced by AG

put on your face
know your place
shut up and smile
don’t spread your legs
I could do that

but no one knows me no one ever will
if I don’t say something, if I just lie still
would I be that monster, scare them all away
If I let the-em hear what I have to say

I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
A one woman riot, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh

I can’t keep quiet
For anyone

Cuz no one knows me no one ever will
if I don’t say something, take that dry blue pill
they may see that monster, they may run away
But I have to do this, do it anyway
I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
A one woman riot, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh I can’t keep quiet

Let it out Let it out
Let it out now
There’ll be someone who understands
Let it out Let it out
Let it out now
Must be someone who’ll understand
Let it out Let it out
Let it out now
There’ll be someone who understands
Let it out Let it out
Let it out now

I can’t keep quiet

Beauty Found in the Concrete Ashes of Humanity

I am so proud to call Bridgit Antoinette Evans my friend and my sister!  We have been friends now for over 20 years, going all the way back to our time in grad school at Columbia University in the 90s.  The script written by Sandra A. Daley-Sharif is utterly phenomenal and blew me away with its poignancy, its pathos and its hard-hitting message of humanity and spirit.    I feel that these two women’s work – Sandra’s words and Bridgit performance – had to be highlighted at the top of this year, 2017, as we move forward as a country to try to heal from the wounds of an election cycle that left us all hurting and rendered an incomprehensible reality to us all – that we have lost our compassion and our ability to see the humanity in the least of our brothers and sisters.

To me, this video highlighted a social area of injustice that we usually  completely ignore – homelessness that leads to self-deprecating isolation and shame. Unfortunately it seems to me that many of the tenants of the roots of the United States are being ripped apart today as is so evidenced by the election of a man such as Trump – who glorifies opulence as well as over-the-top conspicuous consumption while ignoring  the plight of millions of Americans today – specifically as highlighted here in the harsh reality of poverty and homelessness!

It seem to me that we as nation have forgotten our compassion and our need to lift up and not stomp into oblivion those that are helpless due in many instances to no fault of their own.  Maybe it was a loss of a job, outrageous medical expenses, a divorce, I don’t know; but I do know that we need to be cognizant of our fellow-man and woman no matter what he or she looks like or smells like or worships like because one day, there but for the grace of God, go we and then this story as portrayed in this video becomes our own reality too.

This theatrical performance hits the heart because of its utter simplicity in delivery and its lack of bravado that yields complete authenticity.  It is an introspection of purpose that creates mind-blowing power!  I hope that you will enjoy this as much as I did so please take the time to share with your friends and family!  I believe that this powerful yet gentle message will touch their hearts deeply.  Bravo Bridgit and Bravo Sandra for creating such a  wonder piece!

The BusyGal
Felicia M. Lopes

Celebrating Black History Month with My SHEroes! (Pt 2)

“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul!”
Coretta Scott King

It is so important to never forget our past as we look to the future of who we are.  This is one of the many reasons that I felt it necessary to pay homage to some of the extraordinary women that helped shape my world view as an African-American woman.

Yesterday we celebrated Rosa Parks, Clara Luper, Fannie Lou Hamer, Diane Nash, and Elizabeth Eckford.  If you missed yesterday’s post, I hope you’ll go back and read it!

The Women That Lead the Movement3PART II Continue reading “Celebrating Black History Month with My SHEroes! (Pt 2)”

Celebrating Black History Month with My SHEroes (Pt. 1)

The Women That Lead the Movement2PART I

As a Black woman, having been raised in a Southern city – Dallas, Texas in the 1970s right after the turmoil of the 1960s, I would be remiss if I didn’t pause to celebrate my Blackness during this Black History Month 2014.   Join me today and tomorrow as I celebrate some extraordinary women who made their mark in our lives, during the most dichotomous and tumultuous time of our country’s history… THE CIVIL RIGHTS ERA.  They embody a key pillar of being a BusyGal –
They made things happen, they didn’t wonder, what happened! Continue reading “Celebrating Black History Month with My SHEroes (Pt. 1)”

The Lady Still Stands

I wonder what the Lady in the Harbor thought thirteen years ago as she watched the horrific events unfold on September 11, 2001?

Today is a day of great national reflection.  Today was the day thirteen years ago that a paradigm shift occurred in our collective culture in these United States of America. Life has changed so much for this country and for me personally.

One minute we were blissfully, willfully, and woefully ignorant of the Islamic jihad that apparently had been called against us by those who claimed to speak for all Muslims worldwide.  They view us, the United States and all western culture as “the Great satan”.

I remember watching that 2nd plane hit the towers in real-time and I remember watching those towers come down from the roof of my apartment in Queens which faced the eastside of the city.  I remember the horrific smell of sulfur all over the city.  I remember the vice grip of terror that tried to overtake me when I heard that the Pentagon had been hit and that there was yet another plane headed to the White House!  I remember my own personal fears of the unknown and upon finding out that we had been attacked by religious fanatics and militants, — anger at what was awaiting us as a nation.I remember the grief and the flowers, and the candles, and the posters of the missing, all over the city and the endless funerals – several of which I attended.  I remember just wanting to somehow express my feelings for the massive losses that the FDNY and NYPD experience that day.  They went in when we were running out and they died because of their heroism.  I personally lost 2 very dear friends in the towers.  I remember it seemed that everyone was flying flags or spontaneously breaking into song – GOD BLESS AMERICA – kind of thing.  No one was embarrassed to be considered too patriotic that day and for months thereafter.

What I find most interesting, is that even though these jihadists call us “satan”, this nation, unlike their own, is ABUNDANTLY BLESSED!  Well, they knocked us to our knees by the events of that most infamous day in American history, but what I remember so vividly is what they didn’t expect us to do.  We, “The Great satan” stayed on our knees, for months!  The majority of Americas actually prayed to OUR GOD!  It is truly interesting to me that I remember most that houses of worship all over America were jam-packed for months with Americans seeking God to get answers – yet, we are slandered as evil in the jihadists eyes.

Does “satan” go to God for answers?  I don’t think so!

I remember Yankee Stadium’s interfaith worship ceremony and churches, synagogues, and mosques flooded with people after those horrendous events and I remember how people for the first time, in my life, were not afraid to speak up of “needing God’s help to face this unspeakable evil” and for once in our lives we were together as a nation – under God!  No partisanship, no political division – just a nation wanting to, needing to begin a long and arduous healing!

We’re not perfect, by any stretch of the imagine – we have so many problems, but we are still the #1 World Leader, the only Super Power left, and the first line of defense against terrorism!

Over these past 13 years, we’ve experience the Iraqi War, the Great Recession, and now it seems we’re head back to war again with an Islamic faction that has anointed itself as the speaker for one of the world’s top 3 religious – the Muslim religion.  Now, I do not claim to have any knowledge really of the tenants of this religion, but I’d wager to guess that nowhere does it condone the actions of these extremists – beheadings and such!

Well, in closing I think that the Lady still wants us to move forward, together, unified.  She is known the world over to be the beacon of hope for the “tired, the poor, the yearning to breathe free”!  She saw those events and she is still standing and carrying the flame of freedom, of hope, of honor for all the world to see!


Felicia M. Lopes
The Original BusyGal

I do not own the copyright on any of these pictures and is not intended for monetary gain.
This is simply a project done to honor the memory of the victims and the day of September 11, 2001