Sur­vey: The State of Women and En­trepreneur­ship 2018

HOT TAKES ON MONEY, SEX­ISM, AND TRUMP FROM OUR FIRST SUR­VEY OF WOMEN EN­TREPRENEURS

Fast Company - - Contents - BY LAYNIE ROSE

We asked 279 fe­male founders about fundrais­ing, hir­ing, gen­der, and the Trump ef­fect.

We know plenty about the way male en­trepreneurs op­er­ate. Be­cause 80% of com­pa­nies glob­ally are run by men, most founder sur­veys dis­pro­por­tion­ately re­flect the male per­spec­tive. From those stud­ies, we know that men are risk-tak­ers, they’re re­lent­lessly op­ti­mistic about their own prospects, and they raise money con­fi­dently.

Groups like Cat­a­lyst and Lean In offer great in­sight into high-achiev­ing cor­po­rate women, their vary­ing ca­reer paths, and their strug­gle for equal pay. But fe­male founders re­main un­der­an­a­lyzed. That’s why Fast Com­pany and Inc., our sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion, de­cided this year to launch the in­au­gu­ral State of Women and En­trepreneur­ship sur­vey. The 279 re­spon­dents rep­re­sent the full spec­trum of busi­ness own­ers, from one-woman shops to the head of an enterprise with 6,000 em­ploy­ees. They work in dozens of in­dus­tries. More than half left be­hind cor­po­rate ca­reers to strike out on their own.

We asked them about fundrais­ing, hir­ing, pol­i­tics, work/life bal­ance, and more. They were ea­ger to talk—es­pe­cially, per­haps, in the #Metoo era. A full 53% re­ported be­ing ha­rassed or dis­crim­i­nated against in their ca­pac­ity as a founder, at the hands of ad­vis­ers, ven­dors, and even their own em­ploy­ees.

The ma­jor­ity have en­joyed great suc­cess. Sixty-one per­cent listed their com­pany’s an­nual rev­enue as $1 mil­lion or above, and 55% are prof­itable. Still, they don’t al­ways feel like equals. “I’ve been getting in­vited to pri­vate CEO din­ners, and learn­ing a lot,” wrote Sara Palmer, founder of health­care cen­ter Staff Re­hab. “But at one of them, a part­ner of a VC fund asked me to get him wine and hang his coat. I was wear­ing a sweat­shirt with my com­pany’s name. Two steps for­ward, one step back.”

What we learned about their mo­ti­va­tion, am­bi­tion, and suc­cess in the face of lin­ger­ing bias shows us how much they have al­ready achieved—and how much more work we all have to do.

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