A recent study of over 100,000 women-owned businesses on Thumbtack revealed that women are building successful businesses and smashing gender stereotypes by establishing themselves in traditionally male-dominated fields. Of the occupations with the strongest year-over-year growth for women-owned businesses on Thumbtack, most are in the home improvement industry and include plumber, handyman and electrician — jobs historically dominated by men.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to find many of the fastest growing jobs over the next decade in areas like health and wellness (fields typically dominated by women) while fields like manufacturing, which predominantly employ men, have less certain futures. All of this is great news for female entrepreneurs. It means significant job growth in places where they are already strong, like health and wellness, and additional growth in places where women are quickly establishing themselves, like home improvement. These jobs carry the added bonus of more job security and greater earnings potential than factory work.
These women aren’t just replacing lost jobs or supplementing income from other sources; 64 percent of the women on Thumbtack run a business as their primary occupation. Their main motivations for launching their own business is to pursue a passion or because they want to be their own boss. And that is resulting in greater job satisfaction: 87 percent of female Thumbtack pros report loving their jobs versus just 48 percent of the general population.
Most of the women on Thumbtack were working for another company or organization before starting their own business. The decision to leave behind the traditional workplace, where lack of flexibility, sexism and gender inequality remain rife, is paying off: on average women on Thumbtack are not only thriving, but their businesses are booming and may even be better positioned than their male counterparts to outlast this uncertain economic climate — on average women on Thumbtack earn about 10 percent more than men.
For JaNae Thomas, launching her company Glamorous Drinks was about the need “to build something for myself so I could be happy.”
Rebecca Foster was tired of working for others and so started her event planning business, which she says has — with the help of Thumbtack — “made my dreams come true.”
Intriguingly, the strongest year-over-year growth in women-owned businesses on Thumbtack is happening in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, states that feature near the bottom of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product list. And though 40 percent of Thumbtack’s female entrepreneurs have undergraduate degrees, the next highest educational achievement is a community college qualification. Neither location nor education is stopping these women from building their own businesses.
Strong and Stable
Though female entrepreneurs on Thumbtack cite, “uncertain economic conditions” as one of their biggest concerns, self-employment has the potential to provide more stability than taking chances in the labor market. Half the women-owned business on Thumbtack are over three years old and 31 percent have been running for five years or more.
The most recent national report by the Survey of Business Owners showed that 40 percent of businesses in the U.S. are owned by women, a figure also reflected by Thumbtack data. However, this proportion is expected to grow over the coming years. According to small business mentoring organization, SCORE, women-owned businesses are growing 1.5 times faster than the national average. Analysts points women’s dominance in non-routine or non-tradable roles as further evidence of growth, as these jobs are unlikely to be automated or outsourced to cheaper labor markets.
Challenges and Opportunities
There will always be challenges in running a small business. Acquiring new customers is the most pressing concern cited by Thumbtack pros, but finding financing is also a challenge. While most entrepreneurs find it hard to access loans that would help grow their companies, the problem is especially acute for women-owned business who only receive 16 percent of small business loans, despite representing 40 percent of small businesses.
Determined entrepreneurs will overcome these issues. Most self-fund their startup costs, while some are exploring alternative sources of credit, like peer-to-peer services. And to find customers, many are turning to online services like Thumbtack. Jennifer Kasmer of fitness company, Everlasting Changes, notes the positive reviews left by Thumbtack customers have had a major impact on her ability to attract new business.
“Thumbtack is a more credible resource for customers looking for qualified professionals,” she explains. “That’s why we’ve been successful, we’ve found a way to actually connect with interested customers.”
Starting a small business is how millions of women in America are finding the stability and satisfaction that’s all too rare in today’s traditional labor market. As a way of earning more money and opening opportunities in areas not traditionally female dominated, there’s nothing like being your own boss.