Female Entrepreneurship in America

May 12, 2020

Celebrating Mother’s Day this past weekend with three generations of women in my family the discussion came up regarding the differences in opportunities that existed for females born in the 1940’s, 1970’s, and 2000’s.  My mother conveyed that post high school career choices for her were essentially become a teacher, nurse, secretary, or work in hospitality. These remained the dominant opportunities for females for most of the last century.  Females have still experienced pay inequality and less opportunities to advance into elite executive management positions during my wife’s professional life.  It is my hope that my daughter to paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr. will be judged “On the content of her character and ability, and not her gender” vocationally when she graduates college.

The traditional path to financial independence & security is to work for someone else, however an alternative path has always existed for women with vision, work ethic, resources, and execution ability.  The alternative path is entrepreneurship.

The first wave of female entrepreneurs developed, enhanced, and managed businesses in areas traditionally allocated to females in the home. The areas included food, hospitality, janitorial, beauty, ancillary health services, and education.  Women continue to be attracted to these areas as entrepreneurs experiencing significant success as business owners of restaurants, Bed & Breakfasts, maid services, hair salons, nail studios, massage, midwife, & doula services, daycares, and preschools.

The next wave of women business owners diversified ownership by this demographic group adding a spectrum of specialized retailers from clothing boutiques to florist shops and toy stores to card & gift retailers. Many females continue to experience significant business success in owning and managing retail companies.

As diverse educational & employment opportunities opened up to women, the spectrum of businesses they owned continued to grow, many being created due to the existence of a “glass ceiling” for advancement by highly skilled, intelligent women in the corporate world in the final decades of the last century.  The obvious work around being to create a business model where opportunity and corporate culture were not limited by sexist mindsets.

IBA, a company that has had highly skilled, experienced, female merger & acquisitions intermediaries on its team for decades (I was personally mentored by Susan Howard, a legendary business broker in the travel industry pre Expedia when travel agency chains merged regularly, and collaboratively facilitated deals with Jill Nelson in the technology space, when she was part of the IBA team before founding Ruby Receptionist), is honored to be a preferred provider of M&A services to this entrepreneurial community.

The Pacific Northwest women owned business success stories we have experienced as business brokers are inspirational.  They have included the sale of EcoChem, a company that performed environmental chemistry verification audits for entities like NOAA; Peek-A-Boo Creations, a company that manufactured children’s apparel for Nordstrom; Floral & Hardy, a regional floral product wholesaler; Rehab Seminars, a company that facilitated continuing educational seminars for special needs, students with learning difficulties, and at-risk-students teachers;  City People’s Mercantile, a beloved, Seattle retail business; and Sound Building Supply, a company that manufactured and distributed roofing supplies and materials.

If you are a female entrepreneur wishing to sell your company or a woman desiring to lead a business, we would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and provide an overview of our services.  I believe Dolly Parton said it best when describing leadership, “ If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.”  I am personally thankful for the women leaders who have provided mentorship to me during my life.

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, mergers & acquisitions, and real estate communities on subjects relevant to the purchase & sale of privately held companies and family owned businesses.  IBA is recognized as one of the best business brokerage firms in the nation based on its long track record of successfully negotiating “win-win” business sale transactions in environments of full disclosure employing “best practices”.