A detailed look at female small business owners (from perks to challenges)

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Opening any small business is a challenge, but it’s even more challenging for female owners compared to their male counterparts.

New research found that more than half of female small business owners had to overcome bigger obstacles than men, like finding the right work-life balance to simply defying social expectations, according to a new survey.

OnePoll teamed up with Groupon for National Women’s Small Business Month, which is the entire month of October, to pick the brains of more than 800 female entrepreneurs to seek the challenges they face from day-to-day. Researchers wanted to find out why entrepreneurs decided to seek their own business and become their own bosses while figuring out which states are the best for women to open their own small businesses.

The survey found the obvious — 71% of female small business owners reported they went through unexpected challenges and 71% said when they opened their business, they went through unique challenges that tested their will.

Fifty-four percent said finding the right balance between business and family was a struggle. It was the most popular response but not surprising considering women, especially with children, have to manage everyday duties like being a mom while being their own boss. Nearly half — 48% — said they struggled to be taken seriously because they were women, while 31% reported challenges defying social expectations.

A quarter said they had a hard time owning their own accomplishments and 24% fought to access capital, which is definitely hurdle when 34% of women small business owners said they had to finance the opening of their own business with their own money, whether personal saving or borrowing from a retirement account.

The best state for female small business owners is …

Opening a business in Texas was found to be the best location for women small business owners, according to the survey, in part because the state has no income tax.

Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Tennessee were also found to be the next best states, while other states like Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington, South Carolina, and Ohio also ranked highly.

Half of the female business owner respondents wanted states to lower or simplify taxes, according to researchers. Forty-six percent said they hoped state officials could offer more small business resources while more than a third wanted to see improved access to healthcare and insurance benefits.

The perks of owning your own business

Whether it’s working on your schedule or pursuing your passions, most female business owners agreed the best part of owning their own business was being your own boss.

Seventy percent said being their own boss was the reason why they went into business by themselves. Being your own boss means you can make your own schedule, which was the second most popular reason (67%). Others said pursuing their passions, gaining more control over your future, and receiving equitable pay were also big drivers for going into work for themselves.

How long does it take for a small business to become a success?

It took respondents an average of nearly three years to make their small business success, according to the study.

The biggest keys to their success were putting in hard work (66%) and taking pride in the quality of the product of service (57%), according to respondents.

Networking was also a big factor in success. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said building a personal network helped them along the way, while a quarter said having a product of a business that focuses on an underserved market also led to success.

Top 5 reasons women start their own business

  1. To be their own boss: 70%
  2. To have a flexible schedule: 67%
  3. To pursue their passion: 45%
  4. To have more control over their future career: 38%
  5. To charge what they are worth: 22%

Top 10 challenges small business owners face

  1. Generating more clients: 32%
  2. Balancing business and family life: 25%
  3. Staying energized: 23%
  4. Increasing profits: 24%
  5. The economy: 20%
  6. Keeping up with all the various social media platforms: 20%
  7. Federal income taxes: 19%
  8. Coping with a fear of failure: 19%
  9. Growing revenues: 18%
  10. Tough to know where to advertise to the right customers: 18%

Top 5 ways state’s policymakers can help small business owners succeed

  1. Lowering or simplifying taxes: 50%
  2. Offering more small business resources: 46%
  3. Improving access to healthcare and insurance benefits: 36%
  4. Making housing more affordable: 20%
  5. Creating greater access to capital: 17%

Top 5 obstacles women in business face their male counterparts do not

  1. Balancing business and family life: 54%
  2. Struggling to be taken seriously: 48%
  3. Defying social expectations: 31%
  4. Owning their accomplishments: 25%