While the recession may be technically over, a new study shows many women-owned businesses are continuing to use the same strategies that helped them weather the downturn.
The research, which examined how women small business owners faired during the "Great Recession," found that the economic fallout has actually helped make their businesses better off today.
In order to survive, the study by Chase Card Services, the National Federation of Independent Business and the Center for Women's Business Research revealed 45 percent of women-owned businesses concentrated primarily on cutting business costs, while 31 percent sought to increase sales.
"During the recession, women-owned small businesses did the best they could with the few choices they had available to remain open for business, and they're stronger today for it," said Patricia Greene, chairwoman of the Center for Women's Business Research. "The real silver lining is that their resiliency provides valuable lessons on how today's business owners can adapt to challenges."
The research shows that while many women reduced staff to cut costs during the recession, they are now starting to hire again. Compared to their worst quarters during the recession, nearly half of women-owned businesses are now adding new employees.
The study revealed several strategies women owned businesses used to deal with the recession, including:
- Targeting the Right Customers: Nearly a quarter of women-owned businesses are marketing to a customer base today that is different from their pre-recession targets.
- Social Media: Half of female business ownersnow use social media compared with just 4 percent before the recession.
- Outside Help: The sales record of those who invested in outside help to control costs or increase sales proved better than those who did not.
- Community Promotion: Nearly 40 percent of women business owners increased their involvement in civic, social or school activities to increase their exposure during the recession and create value for their communities.
- Working Harder: More than 40 percent of women business owners believe they are working harder than they were during the height of the Great Recession.
"The data indicates that many of women-owned businesses adjusted to the new, volatile circumstances by making changes to their businesses," said William Dennis, senior research fellow at the National Federation of Independent Business. "What is encouraging is that many of these adjustments appear to have been institutionalized."
The study was based on surveys of more than 550 women business owners.
Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance business and technology writer who has worked in public relations and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.