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Being a small business owner is no longer the all-boys' club it once was.
With data from the U.S. Small Business Administration showing that women-owned businesses are one of the fastest-growing segments of the small business community, new research shows there a number of factors contributing to their growth.
The study from Cox Business found a variety of factors are driving women to enter the entrepreneurial ranks. Specifically, 61 percent want the opportunity to be their own boss, while more than half are looking for a chance to control their own destiny.
Pursuing their passion, the chance to make more money than they would working for someone else and the opportunity to spend more time with their family were among the other reasons women said they are choosing to become entrepreneurs.
"This survey reveals that women are enthusiastically taking control of their professional destinies and taking the entrepreneurial road to self-sufficiency, personal satisfaction and financial success," said Jill Campbell, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Cox Communications.
While the number of women-owned businesses is climbing steadily, 85 percent of the women surveyed believe there are still business challenges that are unique to female entrepreneurs. Among those, more than three-quarters of women believe gender bias still exists, while 71 percent think entrepreneurship increases their workloads due to family responsibilities and 55 percent feel there are industries that still lack opportunities for women.
The study found that there are a number of issues impacting women on their road to becoming small business owners, including:
- Work-life balance
- Knowledge on how to run a small business
- Leadership experience
- Access to funding
- Mentors to show them the ropes
To help navigate the entrepreneurial landscape, many female business owners turn to networking groups. Nearly 90 percent of those surveyed said their networks play an important or critical role in supporting their success.
Porter Gale, author of "Your Network is Your Net Worth" (Atria Books, 2013), said female entrepreneurs ' ability tobuild a network of authentic personal and professional relationships far outweighs the potential of financial capital.
"It is the most important asset in your portfolio," Gale said. "Collaborating with people with similar interests and values provides a strong foundation and enables anyone to reach a higher level of success than they could on their own."
The study, conducted to coincide with October's National Women's Small Business Month, was based on surveys of 624 female business owners in the United States.
Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.