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Small Business Data

Women-owned businesses are on the rise

Nearly 4 in 10 US businesses are women-owned, accounting for over 14 million businesses — that’s more than a 13% increase from 2019. Rather than hindering women-owned business growth, the pandemic seems to have bolstered it. According to recent QuickBooks data, more than 6 in 10 women business owners started their business within the last four years, compared to 5 in 10 men. Many of these women cite the pandemic as their top motivation. When the going gets tough, women get going. And when the economy started running out of steam, women stepped in to fuel it. 

These women are running one or multiple businesses while juggling family and social responsibilities, financial burdens, and the added weight that comes with being a woman in charge. Research shows they’re facing age-old gender biases and barriers to things like funding and capital. Women still make and get paid less than their male counterparts — but in many ways, they’re doing more. They’re opening more businesses, adopting more digital tools, and putting more of their own money into their firms.

This Women’s History Month, we explore what motivates women business owners, the unique challenges they face, and how digital tools may be the key to women’s success in 2024 and beyond.

Celebrating women in business, an infographic

Women-owned businesses are on the rise

More women are starting businesses. According to a recent entrepreneurship survey commissioned by QuickBooks, over 6 in 10 women entrepreneurs surveyed say they started their business within the last four years — compared to 5 in 10 men. In fact, nearly 30% of women business owners say they started their business just last year, compared to 21% of men. These women cite the pandemic and the rising cost of inflation as their top motivations for starting a business.1

Nearly 8 in 10 women business owners say their business is currently making a profit — but for many, the long-term goal is stability, not growth. Over half (53%) say they want the stability of a steady income and the flexibility to work when they want.1

Across the board, that flexibility to work when and how they want is an important benefit for women business owners. Over half of women surveyed who are self-employed (51%) said “working for myself and being my own boss” was the top draw of self-employment, followed by creating their own opportunities (33%) and building additional streams of income (32%).1

Women business owners are more stressed than men — hiring may help

Despite their prioritization of stability and flexibility at work, women entrepreneurs report higher stress levels and lower levels of satisfaction than their male counterparts. 37% of women surveyed rate their stress level as “high” compared to 27% of men. And only 31% of women rate their satisfaction as “high” compared to 42% of men.1

Women business owners report higher stress and lower satisfaction than men.

For some women, the solution is hiring help. More than 6 in 10 women business owners say they plan to hire at least one employee or contractor in 2024. Over half (54%) say they’ll be hiring to get some time back and alleviate stress — only 40% of men say they’ll be hiring for the same reason.1

Those who don’t plan to hire say revenue plays a big role in that decision — 37% say they don’t have enough revenue to hire the help they need. Another 14% say high costs, like healthcare, make it harder to build out a team.1

Gender wealth gaps persist for women business owners

Financing continues to be a struggle for women-owned businesses. According to the Department of Labor, on average, women are paid 83.7%, of what men are paid. Similarly, data from the latest survey commissioned by QuickBooks reveals women report lower revenue than men. Less than half of women-owned businesses (46%) report earning $50,000 or more in 2023, compared to 70% of men.1

And those numbers are reflected in their estimated net worth. Women surveyed report an average net worth of $489,000 — for men, this number jumps to $778,000. Nearly half of women surveyed (48%) estimate their current net worth is less than $50,000 — only 31% of men say the same.1

These discrepancies impact how men and women build personal wealth. Nearly 7 in 10 male business owners (66%) are also homeowners, compared to 52% of women. Assets like homes can be used to secure loans, like HELOCs, and contribute to their overall net worth. However, men and women agree that inflation is the top barrier to building personal wealth in 2024.1

Cash flow remains a top challenge for women-owned businesses

For nearly half of women business owners, maintaining positive cash flow is a challenge — 48% of women surveyed said their business struggles with cash flow, compared to 41% of men. More than 7 in 10 say their cash flow situation has stayed the same or worsened over the last 12 months — only 36% saw improvement.2 

Overdue invoices may be the culprit. Nearly half (45%) of women business owners say they have overdue, unpaid invoices — 48% say those invoices are overdue by more than 30 days. Data reveals that the average amount owed to women-owned businesses in unpaid invoices is nearly $19,000.2

$19,000, the average amount owed to women-owned businesses in unpaid invoices.

Unfortunately, cash flow challenges can potentially create much greater risks for women-owned businesses — given that many struggle to get approved for financing. Nearly 4 in 10 women say they don’t expect to be able to get financing for their business needs, compared to 3 in 10 men.2 As a result, more women find themselves tapping into personal savings to keep their businesses afloat. Last year’s Women’s History Month survey from QuickBooks found that 62% of women used their own money to fund their business — among men, this number dropped to 56%.

More women turn to personal credit cards to fund their businesses

In lieu of financing, more women entrepreneurs are turning to credit cards for fast funds — 81% of women business owners say they’ve used a credit card to make purchases for their business.1 In fact, a credit card is the top choice for financing for women business owners, followed by a line of credit and traditional loans. They say the top benefits of using credit cards for business are earning rewards, easily tracking transactions, and building credit.2

But more than half (57%) who use credit cards for their business say they’ve used a credit card for emergency funding at least once in the last 12 months. One in 10 did so in every month of 2023. And this could be impacting their personal credit — 72% say they’ve used their personal credit card for business purchases.1

What’s more, 73% say they’ve used at least 30% or more of their credit limit — it’s generally recommended to keep credit card spending below 30% to maintain a good credit score. Only half of these women think they’ll be able to pay off their credit card balance without paying interest.1

Women say social media is the most powerful tool for growth

Funding remains a hurdle for women-owned businesses, but that’s not stopping nearly 2,000 women from starting a new business each day. And, 8 in 10 women say their business is stable or growing — digital tools may be to thank. Nearly half of those who started their business within the last few years said digital tools and technology made it possible.1

The Small Business Insights survey also reveals that women are early adopters of digital tech — they say it’s saving them time and fueling the growth of their firms. Only 4% of women surveyed said they haven’t adopted any digital tools for their business — the other 96% are already using at least one digital tool to help them run their business. The most popular are social media (67%), a business website (64%), and accounting or financial management software (57%). More than 8 in 10 say these tools help them save time.2

Top 3 digital tools for women entrepreneurs: social media, business website, and accounting software

Looking ahead, 55% of women business owners plan to introduce new digital tools within the next few months. The top choices are social media (19%), email marketing (19%), and payment platforms (13%).2 Leveraging social media is a recurring theme for women business owners — women surveyed ranked social media as the tool that has the most potential to help them drive business growth. Men ranked social media third. Both parties agree that hiring skilled workers and e-commerce are among the top three levers for growth.1

In fact, 6 in 10 women business owners say they plan to invest in expanding e-commerce in 2024. The survey reveals that women spend more time interacting with or finding new customers online than men do — 26% of women business owners say they most often engage with customers online, compared to 19% of male business owners.1

But they’re also interacting with each other. Unfortunately, research shows women in business are less likely to have strong networks than their male counterparts. Many turn to social media to find community. When it comes to learning about new digital tools, women entrepreneurs say they learn primarily from their network of friends (52%) or social media (46%).2

Sample and methodology

1Entrepreneurship in 2024 Survey: From November 30 to December 5, Intuit QuickBooks commissioned an online survey of 4,583 US consumers (2,309 women and 2,274 men) age 18+ who have income from employment or self-employment. The survey focused on recent entrepreneurship trends and predictions for 2024 among five cohorts of respondents who identified themselves as small business owners with 1-100 employees (n=996); small business owners with no employees (n=717); full-time freelancers, contract, or gig workers (n=870); side hustlers who combine W2 and 1099 income by running a small business on the side of their day job (n=1000); and W2 employees who work for an employer, with no 1099 income (n=1000). Overall, 50% of the respondents were male while 50% were female; 10% were Gen Z, 50% were Millennial, 29% were Gen X, and 11% were Baby Boomers. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest decimal place so values shown in charts and graphics may not add up to 100%. Responses were collected using Pollfish audience pools and partner networks with double opt-ins, random device engagement sampling, and post-stratification based on census data to ensure accurate targeting and results. Respondents received remuneration.

2Small Business Insights Survey: Online survey commissioned by Intuit QuickBooks in January 2024 with a total of 3,005 respondents (1,368 women and 1,321 men). All respondents are over the age of 18. More than 95% of respondents are over the age of 25. Overall, 59% of respondents are small business owners on average. The remainder are senior decision-makers within small businesses who have good knowledge of the business’s finances, operations, and strategic priorities. For the purpose of this survey, small businesses are defined as having 100 employees or fewer. Approximately 1 in 10 (16%) small businesses surveyed have no employees while an average of 47% have 1 to 10 employees. The remaining have 11 to 100 employees. On average, nearly 1 in 2 (49%) small businesses surveyed are service-based and 2 in 10 (21%) are product-based. Three in 10 small businesses surveyed sell a mix of products and services.


This content, report and materials are for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal, accounting, financial, investment, or tax advice, or a substitute for obtaining such advice specific to your business. Additional information and exceptions may apply. Applicable laws may vary by state or locality. No assurance is given that the information is comprehensive in its coverage or that it is suitable in dealing with a customer’s particular situation. Intuit Inc., or its affiliates do not have any responsibility for updating or revising any information presented herein. Accordingly, the information provided should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research. Intuit Inc., or its affiliates do not warrant that the material contained herein will continue to be accurate nor that it is completely free of errors when published. Readers should verify statements before relying on them.

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