Female Business Owners: A Growing Clientele

Female Business Owners: A Growing Clientele for Financial Service Providers

A row of female business owners.As an accountant you should be acutely aware of shifts and changes in small business. Your best clients can be small business owners, and the more you know about them, the more likely you’ll be able to attract their business and serve their needs.According to the Center for Women’s Business Research, “nationally, women-owned firms continue to grow at twice the rate of all firms. Between 1997 and 2006, the number of majority women-owned firms grew 42% to 7.7 million from 5.4 million, compared to all firms, which grew 23%.” And the forecast for 2007 looks even better for female entrepreneurs.It’s important to know a bit about this large potential client base:

  • Many start their own businesses because they have hit the glass ceiling and feel immobilized in corporate America.
  • They are more likely to continue in a part-time or full-time job for wage-security.
  • Many entrepreneurial women are minorities. According to LookSmart article “Up, up and away,” ” . . . In 2002, the Center for Women’s Business Research reported an estimated 365,110 majority-owned, privately held firms controlled by African American women in the United States, an increase of 17% since 1997.
  • In an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle, author Illana DeBare explains that even though female entrepreneurs are starting new businesses at a higher rate than men, they don’t grow their businesses like their male counterparts. She explains, “U.S. Census data show that fewer than 4 percent of female-owned businesses have revenue of $500,000 or more per year, compared with 11 percent of businesses owned by men. And 46 percent of female-owned businesses are tiny enterprises with revenue of less than $10,000 per year, compared with 30 percent of male-owned businesses.”

To build a solid rapport and to gain customer loyalty with female business owners, consider the following:

  • Women prefer regular contact in order to build a relationship of trust. Schedule regular contact a client can anticipate (weekly, biweekly, monthly, etc.
  • Watch body language when reading a woman’s response to a conversation.
  • Maureen Nevin Duffy, author of “Tips for Working with Female Clients,” explains that women associate money with greed, so when financial professionals work with female clients they should emphasize the importance of profitability as a way to benefit their families rather than to amass wealth.
  • Duffy also advices that financial providers offer detailed explanations and expect their female clients to take more time making significant financial decisions.
  • DeBare suggests that women fear taking on debt and some have debt issues to resolve before they can invest or redirect their business’s profits.
  • A report released by Barclays Bank and the Economist Intelligence Unit show that women divide their wealth consistently between spending on the present and saving for the future.

It’s important to be aware of this growing clientele, especially the way in which they communicate and perceive money. So if the female entrepreneur is not yet part of your target market, you need to add her! And soon.

References

“Barclays Wealth Insights a Question of Gender”“The Female Voice in Corporate America” by Georgette Pascale as published on womenandbiz.com“Tips for Working with Female Clients” by Maureen Nevin Duffy“Up, up, and away: African American women business owners on the rise, continue to soar to the top of the BE 100s – Facts & Figures”“Women Do ‘Think Small’ in Business” by Illana DeBare