What The Future of Women in Business Looks Like Today
In our new series, Selfmade U, we’ll tackle the most common questions and pain points that come up for business owners with tips and tricks from Selfmade, a virtual business coaching program, led by Brit + Co founder Brit Morin and sponsored by Office Depot OfficeMax. We’ll hear from Selfmade alum, business coaches, and Brit herself on what it takes to run a successful business and make it as an entrepreneur.
Women are taking charge of their own fate by turning their passions and bright ideas into profit. Since the early 2000s, the number of women-owned companies has increased 114 percent, with much of that growth happening within the last five years. Forty two percent of startups are owned by women in the United States and when you combine all the women-owned businesses, they are generating about $1.9 trillion per year.
Also on the rise are companies run by BIPOC women: since 2007, the number of businesses launched by minority women has grown by more than 163 percent.
Daniela Cho is the founder of Bezalel and Co, a Latinx-owned small business that now sells handmade jewelry and household goods. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Daniela was a teacher in Boston when she had just had her son. “I felt like I needed a creative outlet, something that was just for me,” she says. She started making jewelry and when she posted her creations on Instagram, she garnered instant fans. “My earrings would sell out within minutes,” she recalls. “Then I had my first in-person event in Boston, and it was so invigorating to see people interact with my jewelry and love it.”
Daniela realized her jewelry-making could be something more than just a hobby and that’s when she learned about Selfmade. “I figured if I could get an Office Depot scholarship to Selfmade, I could get some mentorship, access to the courses, and launch this business,” she says. “I have entrepreneurial qualities, but I don't think I understood [before Selfmade] basic business things, like thinking about profit versus revenue,” she says. Through Selfmade, Daniela learned how to grow her business and charge what her time and product were really worth.
“A scholarship to Selfmade gave me such a vision. To this day, I credit that mood board [I created during the program] to help me dream bigger,” says Daniela. For part of that mood board project, Daniela had to ask herself: What is my goal? Where do I want to see myself? “Making six figures seemed kind of crazy,” she says. “But I actually did make six figures in revenue, not in profit, but in revenue my first year. That felt super exciting.”
Venture funding for women founders remains an obstacle; 73 percent of women report trouble securing financing. Female-owned startups receive less than half the funding as male-owned startups receive. The amount of money loaned to women is also less: by 33 percent. And Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs struggle even more. In 2021, only 8 percent of Hispanic entrepreneurs and 6 percent of Black owners received loans for their businesses.
As more women take the leap though, the future of women in business looks brighter. Here’s how:
- Representation Means Opportunity: As more women and women of color enter the ranks of founder and CEO, more opportunities will open up for generations to follow. “As an immigrant, I've always had to construct it myself, no one has told me at any point what to do. Here's how you apply to college. Here's how you get scholarships. Here's how you get a job. Here's how you negotiate a raise. Here's how you get resources for your business. None of these things were just common sense to me or easy. I think it just means that, you want something, you go after it and you figure it out,” say Daniela.
- Shrinking The Confidence Gap: Lack of confidence has shown to affect women in business more than men despite women performing better academically. But as we see more women take leading roles, their confidence in those roles will only grow. Here are a few takeaways from Selfmade coach Bex Moxley’s Courage vs. Confidence workshop:
- Confidence is a feeling of trust in yourself and your abilities.
- Nobody feels confident all the time.
- Fear is normal. It only holds you back if you let it.
- Courage is a decision to take action despite your fears.
- Taking action increases your confidence.
- You only need 10 seconds of courage to get started.
- Innovation From A Woman’s Point of View: As more women dream big, they’ll work to solve problems that were never solved before. Women in Selfmade have addressed problems associated with period health, maternity and fertility, mental health, and more and it’s exciting to see what problems women entrepreneurs will continue to solve for women and beyond.
- A New Approach To Leadership: A 2016 study found that women score higher than men on nearly all emotional intelligence factors, such as conflict management, adaptability, and teamwork. This is good for business and for creating a workforce that feels seen and heard.
For Daniela, thinking bigger means uplifting women in marginalized communities. “I have this vision for Bezalel and Co. 2.0, where I take what I'm doing, which has been life changing for us, and empower other women from low-income BIPOC backgrounds with these same skills so that they can start their own creative businesses,” says Daniela. Her big idea? To build a creative apprenticeship/maker space. More women supporting women is also a sign of a brighter future.
And thanks to Office Depot OfficeMax products and services, Daniela has been able to carve out an extra workspace at home as her business blossoms. “I was able to get a standing desk, a monitor, a keyboard, some Bluetooth headphones and a little cart to create a shipping station at home,” she says.
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Illustration by Daniela Jordan-VillavecesReady to take the leap? Along your business journey, let Office Depot OfficeMax help you stay organized & save time with a suite of business services to help you accomplish more – from signs, posters & banners to get your business noticed to marketing materials to help bring your brand vision to life. With Office Depot OfficeMax by your side, we know you can be your best.