Most US women owned businesses home-based.

Well I guess if you can’t get into the board room, the living room works.

Nearly half of all U.S. businesses are run from home, and most companies owned by women are home-based, according to a government report released on Wednesday.
The data, showing 56 percent of female-owned businesses are run from home, illustrates how women opt to work from home for an array of family reasons, workplace experts say.
Among businesses owned by men, less than half, or 47 percent, were home-based, said the U.S. Census Bureau report.
“A significant percent of women having businesses in the home are comprised of women who are doing it for family reasons,” said Kathleen Christensen, director of the Workplace, Workforce and Working Families program at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in New York.

The word “opt” always makes me nervous. I mean are women *really* opting to stay at home? Or is it because a) they can’t afford day care and b) it is difficult for women to advance in the corporate world? Also, I think the internet has made at home businesses much easier to run, especially for women and people of color, who are historically excluded from the workplace.
via Reuters.

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15 Comments

  1. syllogizer
    Posted September 28, 2006 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    My day job is helping small businesses. Many entrepreneurs start out in the garage or basement because, frankly, it’s cheaper. Start-up capital is an issue for almost every entrepreneur, so anything a new business owner can do to reduce costs helps.
    It also depends on what type of business the person is starting. You have to have a storefront if you’re going to be retail; if you’re starting a cleaning business, you just have to have a vehicle. Maybe one factor here is that women and men start different types of businesses and thus have different start-up requirements.
    Last week my organization participated in a resourcing event for women business owners. Despite all the activism for women in business, most of the participants were unaware at the arsenal of resources at their disposal — they were really happy with what they found! Perhaps women advocacy groups tend to be known to women who tend to be advocates, and tend to leave behind the less-outspoken types. Though the advances that have been made benefit even the less-outspoken women, we might do a better job of reaching out to those who aren’t as loud as we are.

  2. Struby
    Posted September 28, 2006 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    I’m no statitician, but is the difference between 56% (women) and 47% (men)really that great? Why is this article focused only on the women at home, when just barely over half are there and for the men it’s just barely under half. I think it would be interesting to look at why half of the people–regardless of gender–are staying at home. I bet they’re a lot of the same reasons.
    That’s not to take away from the discrimination faced in the corporate world, which we all know is huge, I just don’t understand why the study is choosing to focus on a difference between men and women when perhaps the difference is not that great. Perhaps the gender binary is nothing more than a tool of the capitalistic patriarchy and I’m sick of studies from the US Census focusing on it. I just tire of reading article after article talking about women at home women at home women at home, regardless of the details around said women and said homes.

  3. Posted September 28, 2006 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    I agree with Struby… this sounds like good news, since the numbers are so close together.

  4. Thorn
    Posted September 28, 2006 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I also agree with Struby, that a lot of those men who are working from home are doing it for the same reasons women are working from home.
    And I’m seriously skeptical of the word “opt” here as well. I mean, are entrepreneurs in other Western countries working from home in such numbers? Are as many workers starting their own businesses to begin with? Perhaps we should extend our skepticism of the word “opt” to the phrase “for family reasons”, and take to reading “for family reasons” to mean, “because the US government has created an economy which requires two incomes per household (and heaven help all those single-parent households!), but does nothing to support mothers within the workforce, and so many families are caught in the squeeze between needing a second income and that second income being enough to cover the cost of child care.”
    Whups, sorry. I think I’m talking crazy again… ;)

  5. syllogizer
    Posted September 28, 2006 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    The article also doesn’t define what it considers to be a women-owned business. Are we only counting the ones that are WBE-certified? The ones that are 50% or more owned by women? What about businesses that are husband-and-wife, where the wife technically only “owns” 10% of the business but does 50% of the work?

  6. nmshuffle
    Posted September 28, 2006 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Good point syllogizer, but here’s some food for thought — I know of a family owned business in my small town that decided to make the business 51% owned by the wife in order to recieve tax benefits or whatnot for being a woman owned business. They aren’t a progressive couple in the slightest. I am curious if maybe this happens just as often as what you propose. Just a thought.

  7. nmshuffle
    Posted September 28, 2006 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Good point syllogizer, but here’s some food for thought — I know of a family owned business in my small town that decided to make the business 51% owned by the wife in order to recieve tax benefits or whatnot for being a woman owned business. They aren’t a progressive couple in the slightest. I am curious if maybe this happens just as often as what you propose. Just a thought.

  8. Fitz
    Posted September 28, 2006 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    This may be a factor:
    Women value their roles as Mothers and Wives enough that home-based businesses provide a little “butter & egg money� – while their husbands are the primary bread winners: and their perfectly content with that.

  9. Posted September 28, 2006 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I really don’t see what the big deal is about this Samhita. As you know when I’m an independant contractor, which is my home based business, well over 90% of it is done from home.
    I know for certain when I do this type of work instead of being “gainfully” employed by a corporation that I could not own or rent office space. It simply makes no sense what so ever to move small personal owned businesses out of the house.
    Generally you’re already paying your rent or mortgage, and there’s gonna be room for what you need. It just makes more financial sense.

  10. Posted September 28, 2006 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    I am currently working on starting my own business (100% woman owned and operated) and it is currently home based. I have a toddler and frankly can’t afford to put him into daycare while I am putting our extra resources into getting the business up and running. Also, to echo Syllogizer, spending money to establish manufacturing space is silly at this point in the process.
    It would be nice if there were child care resources for women entrepreneurs. Trying to motivate a successful entrepreneurship with a toddler is a daunting task. Well, hell, child care resources for any parent would be nice. But that is another post.

  11. Spungen
    Posted September 28, 2006 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I’m with Struby — the numbers, by themselves, don’t seem to indicate a big gap. What I want to know is who is making money, and I can’t tell from this. Also, just because a person has a home-based business — or three — doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t also work full-time. I’d bet more men work full-time in an office and have a business on the side. I’d also bet the raw numbers for men as total business owners, home-based or otherwise, are a lot bigger than for women, but that info isn’t here either.
    Anyone can call themselves a consultant, put up a website, or represent some line of products. It doesn’t mean they make any money at it. I don’t know that those numbers tell us much about the success of women (or men) in the business world.

  12. dhsredhead
    Posted September 28, 2006 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    I agree with several of the people above. Yeah a) it just makes sense to start a business at home and b) 9% really isn’t a very large difference. I hate how people assume things due to statistics. Maybe women aren’t opting to “stay home” while working, maybe they are forced to start their own businesses because most companies aren’t very family friendly…maybe they have to start their businesses at home because banks refuse to give them business loans. Maybe less women have business degrees then men. Maybe the whole 9% account for women who run daycare centers out of their homes, something men often don’t do.

  13. Posted September 29, 2006 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    I would love to have a home based business. I have a four year old son and would love the ability to stay at home and not have to juggle my schedule around that of his mother’s quite so franticaly. Besides, I like the idea of being more available to him.

  14. Posted September 29, 2006 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    Concluding anything from a 9% gap makes no sense. There are so many small ad-hoc explanations for that that make sense that talking about opting out or availability of daycare is entirely misplaced. All you can conclude is that 9% of American women opt out, or work from home because of daycare problems. And before you say 9% is a big trend, consider the fact that in political polling, any issue with less than about 20-25% support is considered fringe.

  15. syllogizer
    Posted September 29, 2006 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Here’s more food for thought: Entrepreneurs have different motivations for starting their own businesses. While some entrepreneurs want to “make it big,” so to speak, often, entrepreneurship is an alternative to working for someone else. For example, my aunt owns two businesses. She’s phasing one out in favor of the other, which is more portable, so that she and her husband can move themselves and the business to a warmer location. Both enterprises are run entirely out of her home. The first (chimney cleaning) doesn’t require much equipment and has been run for years as a way to provide annual income while having much of the summer free to do as she and her husband please. They turn down as much business every year as they accept, because they don’t want to get bigger. The second (candy manufacturing) will eventually require an outside facility, but for now, they got the proper permits and health inspections and converted a portion of their house into an industrial kitchen. So just because someone is running a home-based business doesn’t mean that they aren’t turning a decent profit or are “limited” somehow.
    nmshuffle:
    I can’t speak for many areas of the country, but in my region, WBE certification really only helps with procurement. So if you have a service that the government might be interested in and you’re interested in working with the government, you might find a way to get the WBE certification and get a competitive edge.
    Fitz:
    Consider this. Men value their roles as Fathers and Husbands enough that of those that own their own businesses, nearly half are home-based and provide a little “butter & egg moneyâ€? – while their wives are the primary bread winners: and they’re perfectly content with that. I’m also interested in your assumption that the home-based business necessarily brings in less money than the man who has a “real job” out in the “real world.” What is your basis for that assumption?
    Alon:
    My favorite junk statistic is that 40% of sick days are taken on either Monday or Friday. I had a supervisor try to use that one against me once. (He lost.)

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