Survey: The State of Women and Entrepreneurship 2018
HOT TAKES ON MONEY, SEXISM, AND TRUMP FROM OUR FIRST SURVEY OF WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS
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.