WPO Economic Impact Survey: While Women-Owned Businesses are Growing and Hiring The Economy is Still a Concern

Oct 11, 2013, 09:07 ET from Women Presidents' Organization

-- 50% Believe Economic Conditions are Biggest Threat to Growth --

NEW YORK, Oct. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While 65% of women-owned and led businesses experienced positive growth in the first half of 2013, there are still major concerns about the economic climate. According to the results of the Women Presidents' Organization 2013 Economic Impact Survey, released today, half (50%) of WPO members in the nonprofit, peer advisory group for owners of multi-million dollar companies believe that economic conditions are the single biggest threat to their bottom line growth. By comparison, 34% were concerned with economic conditions in 2012. The annual Economic Impact Survey, sponsored by KeyBank's Key4Women program, focuses on growth, economic stability and future outlook of women-owned and led businesses around the world. (You can view an infographic of the results here.)

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This year's survey found 69% are optimistic in terms of 2013 financial performance to date, relative to 2012. In 2012, 71 percent were optimistic about their financial performance, relative to their performance in 2011.

Beyond economic climate, 32% of WPO members cited competition as a key concern, while another 32% said that human resources -- namely hiring and retaining good employees -- is an issue that impacts their revenue.

Despite HR concerns, 50% of women-owned and led businesses have hired new employees, and 63% have actually increased their employees' salaries in 2013. A whopping 88% of women-led companies provide health insurance -- a stark contrast to the 52% national average -- which has been declining since 2000.

When it comes to salary, business ownership can be lucrative: 76% of WPO members currently make at least six figures, and 28% have received a salary increase this year, further separating themselves from the statistic that women earn 77 cents on the dollar compared to men.

"Women face plenty of challenges in starting and running businesses, but our WPO members are those women who have gone above and beyond and reached the pinnacle of success to lead multi-million dollar companies," said Dr. Marsha Firestone, Ph.D., president and founder of the WPO. "It's reassuring to see that despite economic conditions and decreased optimism, these women are still hiring, providing salary increases, offering health insurance and taking care of their employees in the face of uncertainty. It's an example that all business leaders should follow."

Key4Women Manager Martha Seidenwand said the survey results highlight the continuing significant role and economic impact of women-owned small businesses. More than 70% of survey respondents own or operate businesses with up to $20 million in revenue.

"The WPO Economic Impact Survey reflects what we are seeing and hearing from our clients as we help them identify the right solutions to their changing challenges," Seidenwand said. "Women-owned businesses – small and large – that forged through the economic downtown are still helping to drive the economic recovery by expanding operations and payroll."

Peer Advisory Aids Growth
The backbone of the WPO is peer advisory, and members are able to connect with like-minded women from a vast array of industries to discuss challenges and strategies in a trusting environment. The impact of peer advisory is clear: 73% of WPO member businesses have grown since joining the organization. 15% have grown by 50% or more; 10% have grown from 25%-50%; 16% have grown from 15%-25%; and 30% have grown from 5%-15%; 85% said that participation in a WPO chapter helps them manage their business concerns.

The WPO currently has over 100 chapters with more than 1,700 members from around the world. In 2013 alone, the WPO has expanded into new markets including Australia, New Zealand, Johannesburg, Istanbul, Mexico City and the Middle East/North Africa, where women are achieving unprecedented levels of success and hitting the multi-million dollar revenue requirement for membership.

WPO members were surveyed for their responses in July/August 2013. Members responded in an anonymous electronic format. This survey was sponsored by KeyBank and had a sample size of 317 women leaders and owners of multi-million dollar companies. Additional survey data and interviews are available upon request.

About Key4Women
Founded in 2005, Key4Women is a national program that helps women entrepreneurs, professionals, nonprofit leaders and consumers to achieve their goals by providing access to capital, customized solutions, ongoing education and networking opportunities. Among the nation's largest financial services companies and a leading small business lender, Key provides financial services to thousands of women-owned businesses in 14 states and continuously exceeds lending goals focused on women-owned businesses. Visit Key4Women for more information.

About KeyCorp
Key traces its history back more than 160 years and is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. One of the nation's largest bank-based financial services companies, Key has assets of approximately $91 billion.

Key (NYSE: KEY) provides deposit, lending, cash management and investment services to individuals, small and medium-sized business in 14 states under the name KeyBank National Association. Key also provides a broad range of sophisticated corporate and investment banking products, such as merger and acquisition advice, public and private debt and equity, syndications and derivatives to middle market companies in selected industries throughout the United States under the KeyBanc Capital Markets trade name.

Visit KeyBank for more information, and follow KeyBank on Facebook, on Twitter@KeyBank_News and @KeyBank_Thrive. KeyBank is Member FDIC

About the WPO The WPO is the premier peer advisory organization connecting women who lead and own multi-million dollar companies. In monthly meetings across the world, women from diverse industries invest time and energy in themselves and their businesses to drive their corporations to the next level. Local WPO chapters are coordinated by a professional facilitator and meet monthly to share business expertise and experience in a confidential setting. For more information, call 212-688-4114 or visit www.womenpresidentsorg.com.

Contact: Susan Johnson Women Presidents' Organization sjohnson@womenpresidentsorg.com 212-688-4114 Office 917-601-5778 Mobile

SOURCE Women Presidents' Organization