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Ellevate Impact Survey: Business Owners

Ellevate Impact Survey: Business Owners

The Ellevate Impact Survey is an annual survey of the members of the Ellevate community. You are reading "Section 2: Business Owners," for more information on other sections of the survey you can navigate here:

  1. Results from Women Employees
  2. Results from Business Owners
  3. Thought Leadership
  4. Board Leadership
  5. Diversity & Inclusion

Business Owners

There are an estimated 9.4 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. as of 2015, generating nearly $1.5 trillion in revenues and employing more than 7.9 million people. That’s power. Ellevate Network members are active participants in this group.

Business owners make up 27% of the Ellevate community. And they are a very experienced group: more than half of them have more than 21 years of experience. They are also highly educated, with more than half having achieved an advanced degree.

Taking the Leap

53% of Ellevate business owners started their businesses in the last five years, and 16% took the plunge to start in 2015 (versus 18% in 2014). The largest group (36%) of Ellevate members who ventured on their own in 2015 have more than 21 years of experience. Less experienced professionals were less likely to go off on their own last year: 19% of new entrepreneurs had less than 5 years of experience, 19% between 6 and 10, and 25% between 11 and 20.

[Related: Practical Thoughts on How to Start Your Own Business]

Getting the Money

The percentage of Ellevate entrepreneurs looking for funding in 2014 and 2015 stayed consistent (34% and 36% respectively), but those who attempted to raise money were more successful in 2015, with 43% of them receiving funding versus 34% in 2014.

Although not many entrepreneurs were looking for funding in Finance and Technology industries, they were more successful than the average: 70% and 67% of Ellevate entrepreneurs looking for funding in these fields received it.

Major sources of funding were:

  • Friends and family: 33.3%
  • Angel Investors: 29.6%
  • VCs: 18.5%
  • Crowdfunding: 11.1%
  • Other sources (44.4%) included partnerships, government funding, and foundations. 
“I leverage Ellevate to grow my business. I met the co-author of my book through Ellevate, and we have now collaborated on other profitable projects." - Ellevate Member

Ellevate business owners have been successful in growing their businesses. In 2015, 63% of business owners reported revenue growth in their business, this is a slightly lower percentage than in 2014, in which 67% reported revenue growth. 42% of companies had more than 10% growth, and 29% reached more than 20% growth in their revenues during 2015.

[Related: Growing Your Small Business with Government Contracting]

About the Ellevate Impact Survey:

The annual Ellevate Impact Survey is a compilation of the accomplishments of the Ellevate community. Every year, we survey hundreds of professional women who are leading the charge in their fields or making their way up the ranks. We do this for several reasons:

  1. We believe women are an awesome force and we want to prove it.
  2. We want to put to rest the idea that women aren’t ambitious and don’t want to get to the top.
  3. We want to provide inspiration to all professional women out there who want to get ahead in their careers.
  4. We want to show how industries, stages in your careers, and job functions, affect your career development and career priorities.

And yes, we want to brag about the fantastic women in our Network.

Read what women who work in companies, nonprofits, or the public sector had to say. 


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