It’s not a woman’s issue. It’s an economic issue.
We believe that an inclusive business culture is not just good for women, it’s a business imperative for Austin. Why? National trends show that women will be a driving force of entrepreneurial growth in the future.
It’s time we ask ourselves: Are we doing all we can in Austin to help women entrepreneurs be successful here? Lets look at why the timing is so important right now. And what recent national studies are telling us.
• Step back for a minute. If you knew there was a US sector that was launching over a thousand new businesses every day – do you think it would warrant Austin adopting some strategies to encourage that activity close to home? A 2014 AMEX report shows that female entrepreneurs are starting 1288 new businesses each day — double the rate from only three years ago. There are now 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. (compared to 8.6 million in 2013). Imagine the economic impact in Austin if more of these new ventures were transformed into thriving businesses!
• How about companies with higher revenues? The number of $10M+ revenue companies that are women-owned increased last year by 57% — a growth rate nearly 50% more than $10M+ companies overall, according to “Growing Under the Radar: An Exploration of the Achievement of Million-Dollar Women-Owned Firms.”
• Let’s bring it home even more. What about the link between profits and diversified teams in general, everywhere? There is a whole body of public data, in study after study, about the positive affect of diversity on performance and profitability. It’s a proven fact: companies with more balanced leadership teams significantly outperform those which lack that diversity. This is true for Boards, Fortune 500 companies, venture back start-ups, and individual teams. The results are the same – if you have more women in leadership or on the founding team, the company has a better chance of being successful.
I truly believe we’re at a place as a society where we recognize that men and women working together produce the best results, and are the most effective for creating jobs, growth, and wealth creation going forward.
Isn’t it time we start a deeper conversation in Austin? There are some amazing potential differentiators for the City around this topic, all within our grasp, that would be good for our economy and help us secure our place long-term on the national stage.
Can we all just agree? Austin should be that place where female founders want to come and launch their businesses. We still have an opportunity to become the premier hub for women-led business that doesn’t yet exist in another market. We may not have the scale of Silicon Valley, but we have something better overall to offer women, I believe, if we just focus our collective energies around the support ecosystem of our City.
The good news? We already offer so much — entrepreneurial energy, an amazing lifestyle, a culture that will embrace diversity. But we need more success stories. We need female entrepreneurs to get more visibility, we need them to ask for (and receive) the help they need, earlier in the lifecycle of the company, to increase the likelihood of course corrections where needed for success. That means more visible female role models, more relevant mentoring with men and women who have been there before, more access to sources of capital, and attention from the venture community. Because with more successful exits comes more women CEOs/Founders who want to give back and enter the investment pool. More spin-offs that create jobs and feed back into our economy. Of one thing I’m certain — it is within our reach to totally differentiate Austin on the national stage through female entrepreneurship. It’s not just good for women, it’s an economic driver for Austin!