Nell Merlino, the founder and president of Count Me In, a not-for-profit organization that includes 70,000 online members, commissioned the report that polled 250 women small business owners and another 700 non-business owners nationwide. Merlino said the survey shines a light on why women-owned businesses don’t grow at a similar rate to those run by men and why broader societal misconceptions are preventing many women from expanding their businesses.
“There is a perception on the part of the public in general that women are in business to bring in a little money, as opposed to women are in business because they are supporting their families and they want to grow a business,” said Merlino, quoting the study’s findings that just 38 percent of Americans believe women entrepreneurs care about making a lot of money, compared to 63 percent who said male entrepreneurs care about the same.
Merlino, whose organization provides support to women business owners, said this is a troubling statistic, since women currently account for about a third of all U.S. small businesses. “You have 8 million women who have businesses and most of them are really small. Are they small because we want them small, or are they small because we’re missing a few steps? I continue to believe it’s because we’re missing a few steps, not because we all woke up and said I want to have a really tiny business and work 24 hours a day and not make any money.”
Merlino, who also started the Make Mine A Million $ Business campaign that helps women convert micro businesses into million-dollar ones, said the biggest impediment to growth is the belief among the majority of women small business owners that being more efficient is the best way to grow revenues. Merlino said this works for big corporations that have huge budgets and thousands of employees, but it doesn’t work for a startup with little or no staff.