Women and men who own small and mid-sized businesses are typically more aligned than they are different in their viewpoints about the economy. Now – more than ever – this is especially true as it relates to their optimism about running their businesses, according to PNC’s latest Economic Outlook Survey.
Survey results show that 69% of women and 73% of men are highly optimistic about their business prospects. But women appear to have the edge when it comes to confidence – 69% say they are confident about running their businesses compared to 57% of men. This trend is consistent with last year’s survey responses. In 2022, 8 in 10 women business owners reported feeling very confident in their business success and nearly half credited their confidence to their own hard work and drive.
“It stands to reason that those sentiments, together with a few key resources – professional networks, improved access to credit and the agility to navigate the economic landscape – all contribute to a level of confidence that is driving continued optimism this year,” says Beth Marcello, director of PNC Women’s Business Development.
Engaging in Networks
According to the survey, women-owned businesses are more likely to be engaged with the Small Business Administration, chambers of commerce and other professional groups. In fact, 83% of women business owners participate in business development organizations compared to 64% of men.
“Women often credit the benefits of a strong network to winning new business and finding new and better ways of doing business, and we’re supporting that network-building through our relationships with organizations such as global nonprofit Coralus and the Women Presidents Organization,” says Marcello.
Decisions for the Economic Landscape
The optimism of women business owners comes through in the survey in specific areas of their enterprises, as 64% expect to see an increase in demand, 65% anticipate an increase in sales, and 56% predict an increase in profits in the next six months. While 57% also have plans to moderately increase prices.
“These are just a few indicators of how women are thinking as they make business decisions heading into 2024,” Marcello says. “While some of their optimism may be tested by continued high inflation and a potential recession, there is strong evidence that they are prepared.”
When PNC began surveying women business owners in 2014, men were more likely to seek credit in the near term. The 2022 survey showed for the first time, women overtaking men when considering a new loan or line of credit to support business growth. This trend continued in 2023, with 26% of women saying they are likely to seek a near-term business loan or line of credit compared to 23% of men.
“While this data could simply reflect changes in the way women are conducting business, it’s evidence that fewer women are intimidated by the traditional process of gaining access to credit for their businesses,” Marcello says. “This is really encouraging.”
Dedicated efforts to make more resources available to women entrepreneurs are paying off, says Marcello. At PNC, for example, women can lean on the expertise of 5,000 PNC-Certified Women’s Business Advocates who have a passion for working with women financial decision makers. Through Coralus, entrepreneurs have access to a global support network and a no-interest loan program.
“Providing support to entrepreneurs and making access to credit more attainable are important steps toward their ongoing success as well as economic growth overall” says Marcello.