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Tired of waiting, female entrepreneurs take matters into their own hands

A Women's Business Social held in 2012 by No More Nylons, an organization that teaches women how to be successful entrepreneurs.
Jodie Womack

Women are getting tired of waiting for corporate America to give them the pay and opportunities they need.

So they’re taking matters into their own hands.

A report commissioned by American Express Open shows that since 1997, the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. has ballooned by 74%.

If you think that’s huge, get a load of this: The number of businesses owned by African-American women has increased a whopping 322%.

Amy Haimerl took a look at “The fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in America” in her recent report for Fortune.

Haimerl tells us that while those numbers are impressive, it’s also worth looking at them with some perspective.

“In 1997, we didn’t have nearly as many businesses owned by black women, so when you’re starting that low it’s easy to have a 322% growth,” she says.

But more importantly, she explains, women are tired of being cut out of the positions and corporate hallways they want to be in, so they’re taking it upon themselves to create those opportunities both for themselves and for those around them.

“They are looking at it and saying, I can work as many hours and often more as an entrepreneur, but I get more flexibility, so I can take care of my children or my ailing parents,” Haimerl says.

According to Haimerl, the types of businesses being created by women are all over the map, but a significant uptick is being seen in the service, healthcare, small manufacturing and construction industries.

“We have to be really honest about the facts on the ground,” she says, “which is that half of all small businesses fail.”

But, Haimerl adds, there are many resources available to women and entrepreneurs in general just starting a business or working to get their small business off the ground. Among them are the Detroit Microloan Fund Collaborative and the Build Institute in Detroit.

She says these sorts of support structures are invaluable to small business owners, and give them the tools to work toward running a sustainable and profitable business.

“All small business owners are really great at the product or service they offer,” she says. “But almost every small business owner struggles with the harder part of how to actually run your business.”

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