For female CEOs, the future of their business is looking brighter. New research finds that women CEOs turned an unsteady economic situation into an opportunity to invest in new business and prepare for growth.
The Key4Women Confidence Index surveyed 164 women business owners about how they have been faring in the larger economy following the economic collapse in September 2008.
Many female CEOs said they were starting from a more secure place in April 2011 than they did in April 2010.
Maria Coyne, founder of Key4Women, said female business owners spent the recession making sure their businesses were more efficient.
"They used that time to plan and understand their cash flows and margins," Coyne said.
Over those 12 months, most women business owners said they increased their marketing or advertising , invested in technology or created new products and services.
"They are a lot more grounded in the core financials of their business. Even with business challenges, they know what it's going to take to get the return on investment," Coyne said.
One of the most hopeful signs for the future was that 42 percent of those surveyed said they planned to begin hiring during the next 12 months. Only about 5 percent planned to cut workers.
Asked to identify the most important problem facing their business, about 30 percent cited poor sales. The next most-common responses were competition from big business, and taxes.
Coyne said the best way to overcome these obstacles is by knowing your numbers and using them to run your business. "You need a crystal ball. You have to plan for increased costs. People are getting a lot smarter about using financial forecasting tools to get a good handle on various scenarios," Coyne said.
To turn the economic situation into an opportunity, Coyne said your first step should be having strategic partners, like your banker and accountant, think through your plans.
"Secondly, do some good research about where there's an opportunity for growth and create the plan. As a person leading a business, nobody knows better than you what the opportunities are," Coyne said.