Three women sitting at a table with laptop computers and cell phones, photo taken from above

October is a month that represents us at Applied Development. Earlier this month, we featured how our services align with the goals and mission of Disability Employment Awareness Month. October is also National Women’s Small Business Month. As an Economically Disadvantaged Women Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) certified business, we wanted to highlight what this month means for us and other women-owned small businesses. Here are 3 things to think about this Women’s Small Business Month, and all year. 

The number of women-owned businesses is growing. 

In 1988, the United States Congress passed the Women’s Business Ownership Act. This act prompted the, “Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide financial assistance to private organizations to conduct demonstration projects giving financial, management, and marketing assistance to small businesses, including start-up businesses, owned and controlled by women.”

In 1972, women owned just 4.6% of businesses, and Congress hoped the act would spur more female-owned businesses. This created opportunity specifically for women, but also injects money into the economy through hiring. Today, women account for nearly 40% of business owners nationally. Furthermore, companies with revenue of more than $1 million employ 6.2 million workers and generate over $1 trillion in revenue.

The act also created the National Women’s Business Council to assist in the certification of women-owned businesses. Applied Development is proud to be a Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) certified business.

A report published by WBENC and American Express announced that, “in the last year, 1,821 new women-owned business opened each day.” Especially impressive is that almost 50% of all women-owned small businesses are owned by women of color. 

We still have work to do for equity and inclusion. 

While the increase in female-owned businesses is incredible, WBENC points out we still have room for growth. They write, “Women-owned businesses account for just 8 percent of the total private sector workforce and 4.3 percent of total revenues, and those numbers are not increasing as quickly as the number of new firms.”

In a blog post earlier this year, we pointed out that women-owned businesses still have opportunities to win contracts set aside for women-owned businesses by the Federal Government, for example. 

WBENC also points out that the growth in new business owned by women comes from both opportunity entrepreneurship and necessity entrepreneurship. Opportunity entrepreneurs are the more classic image of a new business owner: they see a market opportunity and respond to it by creating a business.

Necessity entrepreneurs  either cannot find quality employment or whose best employment option is to start their own business. WBENC notes that these women tend to re-join a traditional workplace when and if they find an opportunity that fits their needs. To continue to grow the share of women-owned businesses, more women may need to take on the role of opportunity entrepreneurs. 

Celebrate women-owned businesses and their success! 

This month, we got to celebrate a huge success. The Baltimore Business Journal named us the 4th fastest-growing private company in the Baltimore region. Although this recognition had nothing to do with Women’s Small Business Month, we are thrilled it coincided. We’re also excited that a female-owned business was in the top 4 fastest-growing companies. 

However, we hope that everyone will celebrate women-owned business and their successes year-round. One way to do that as a consumer or contractor is to buy from or work with women-owned businesses as much as possible. Women who are business owners should become certified so that they can access training and resources offered through organizations like WBENC.

Finally, anyone, regardless of gender, who is successful in business can support women-owned businesses by becoming a mentor. Mentorship helps new business owners avoid mistakes and learn from the experience of others.