New research reveals that six out of ten female small business owners who established their businesses before 2022 consider the past year to be the most challenging period for their enterprises. The study surveyed 1,000 female small business owners, with one in six reporting experiencing daily stress. This increase in stress levels may be attributed to a rise in women starting businesses out of necessity, as over a quarter of respondents indicated being let go or laid off before embarking on their entrepreneurial journey, compared to 14% in the previous year.
The survey, conducted by OnePoll for Office Depot, also identified concerns such as fatigue (23%) and difficulties in finding employees (13%). However, funding concerns decreased from 47% last year to 42% this year, indicating a positive trend.
Despite the challenges faced over the past year, a significant majority of female small business owners who were previously employed elsewhere reported an improvement in their work-life balance since starting their own ventures (73%).
However, female entrepreneurs acknowledge the need for additional support. They expressed a desire for marketing materials (35%), networking tools or platforms (34%), and access to office supplies (25%) to assist their businesses. Mentors were also identified as valuable resources, particularly among female small business owners of color (33% compared to 20% of white business owners).
Furthermore, working from home emerged as the predominant setup for female small business owners, with 55% running their businesses remotely. This necessitates significant investments in creating dedicated home workspaces. Approximately one in five respondents revealed spending over $5,000 of their own money on equipment and tools for their at-home operations. Laptops (36%), printers (35%), and software programs (24%) were among the most commonly purchased items.
Kevin Moffitt, Executive Vice President of The ODP Corporation and President of Office Depot, emphasized the feasibility of establishing and growing successful businesses from home in recent years. He pledged Office Depot’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurs by providing them with everything they need to thrive.
The survey also shed light on personal challenges faced by female small business owners while working from home, such as difficulties in adhering to schedules while juggling parenting responsibilities, missing in-person interactions, and the need to expand their network.
Interestingly, a third of respondents employed family members, while almost a fifth considered it against their philosophy to do so (19%).
Overall, female small business owners continue to find reward in being their own bosses, with 70% expressing satisfaction in this aspect of entrepreneurship, up from 66% last year.
Wesley Brinkhurst, Vice President of Marketing for Office Depot, highlighted the potential for success when entrepreneurs have easy access to innovative tools and resources, emphasizing the positive impact it can have on both individuals and their communities.
The success of female small business owners can be measured in various ways. Over the next year, their goals include increasing profits (59%), acquiring more clients/customers (53%), and expanding their businesses (28%).
When asked for advice, respondents emphasized the importance of acknowledging the highs and lows that come with business ownership (56%) and the significant time and effort required (52%). They also stressed the value of making connections (43%) and being prepared for unexpected challenges (42%).
CHALLENGES FEMALE SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS FACE WHEN RUNNING A BUSINESS FROM HOME:
- Balancing distractions, staying on task, organizing space, and managing work-life in the same environment
- Missing out on the ‘human touch’ and face-to-face interactions
- Building new contacts and networks
- Maintaining privacy and productivity in a home setting
- Time management and lack of an efficient workspace
Survey Methodology: This survey was commissioned by Office Depot and conducted by OnePoll between February 1 and February 6, 2023. The study involved 1,000 female small business owners who participated on a voluntary basis. OnePoll is a respected market research company, and its team members are members of reputable research societies.