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Sisters are doin’ it for themselves

Sisters are doin’ it for themselves

By Dear Molly

Whether it’s a sign of creativity or a response to balancing child-raising and the workforce, Australia is currently among the world leaders when it comes to the proportion of women who are entrepreneurs.

In fact, in late 2019, researchers noted Australia ranked eighth globally in terms of our percentage of women who own their own business, with over a third of all registered businesses fronted by females.

Importantly, women who do go into business also have a high success rate when it comes to getting their business out of the starting blocks and keeping it afloat, according to Small Business Commissioner Kate Carnell.

So let’s open the ledger and look into some stats…

Female entrepreneurship rising

Over recent years more and more women have been starting their own business. In January 2019, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicated there were 715,300 women business operators in Australia, which was an increase of 46,600 (or 2 percent) on the year prior, and 46 percent on two decades ago.

That means over one-third (34.9 percent) of all business operators in Australia are women.

It also means 12.1 percent of all women who are employed in Australia are working in their own business, which is no small achievement.

Why the increase?

According to Federal Government research from 2014, running their own business ticks a number of boxes for women.

“Becoming an entrepreneur appears to provide a solution to the problem of maintaining a balance between work and family responsibilities,” the government’s Profile of Australian Women in Business notes.

“It not only allows women to have careers that are vital and challenging, but it also gives them the power to decide when, how, and where their work gets done.”

And this flexibility is increasingly important, with the government data indicating most female business operators (47 per cent) have dependent children they are working around.

In fact, women who operated businesses were the most likely employed people to have dependent children, closely followed by women who were unpaid family workers (46 per cent).

Female business owners by age

The government’s data is a few years old but indicates an interesting trend when it comes to the age of women running their own business.

In 2014, more than two in five (44 percent) were aged between 40 and 54 years, with those aged 45-49 and 50-54 close behind, and just over a quarter (28 per cent) of women business operators were aged 55 years or more.

Meanwhile, in 2011, around 2200 women under 20 were business operators, including around 180 15-year-olds. There were also around 4300 women aged 75 years or older running their own enterprise.

Why we enter business

While the main aim of the game might be work/life balance, reward and personal satisfaction rank highly as women’s primary reasons for running their own business.

“...women business owners tend to pursue a balance between economic goals, such as profit and growth, and non-economic goals, such as product quality, personal enjoyment and helping others,” the government’s Profile of Australian Women in Business explains.

And by and large we love it. The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey found across every year of their longitudinal data (2001 to 2011) that self-employed women had higher job satisfaction than all other female workers.

They also found that self-employed men and women had the highest levels of overall satisfaction even when they were the least satisfied with their pay.

So while it’s brave, it’s creative, and it navigates that work/life balance Australia’s, statistics on women in entrepreneurship indicates when push comes to shove, sisters are doin’ it for themselves. 

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