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Are Kiwi women business owners outperforming men?

16 Oct 2013

New Zealand’s female SME operators are outperforming men in several key areas, demonstrating the strength of their contribution to the local economy, a national survey has revealed.

The latest MYOB Business Monitor Report shows that almost a third (30%) of SMEs operated by women increased their revenue in the 12 months to August 2013, while 44% maintained revenue levels - comparing to 30% and 42% of male SME operators.

Less than a quarter (23%) saw revenue fall in the year to August 2013, a slight advantage over their male counterparts, 25% of whom saw a drop in revenue while 3% of each gender weren’t sure of their revenue results.

“The financial performance results our research uncovered are an extremely positive signal to women, especially those thinking of starting up a new business and those with growth aspirations,” says Allison Fairkettle, national manager Enterprise Division, MYOB NZ.

“What it clearly highlights is the strength of businesses that have a woman at the helm.

"Female business owners are playing a major role in the success of the local and national economy, as they build their influence and extend their take-up of enabling technologies.”

According to the Monitor, 43% of female SME operators expect revenue to increase in the next 12 months, with just 7% expecting a fall. Here, women have stronger expectations than men, for whom 42% expect revenue to increase in this period, while significantly more – 12% – are forecasting a fall in revenue.

The confidence of female business operators appears to be due in part to a solid August to October quarter, with 37% reporting more work or sales than they would normally have at this time. Just 12% reported less work in the pipeline than usual, compared to 19% of men.

The best performing female-led businesses were in Auckland, where 40% saw revenue increase, closely followed by Christchurch (39%), and then Wellington (31%).

Women in business in the rest of New Zealand were slightly off the pace, with 21% reporting revenue up. In comparison, 27% of all SMEs outside the main centres saw revenue increase in this 12month period.

“There is a catch," Fairkettle says. "Despite their edge in performance, we are not seeing the same levels of confidence among women business operators when it comes to short-term improvements in the economy."

In the latest Monitor, 21% of women in business said they expected the economy to improve from its current position in 12 months or less, compared to 32% of men. Almost two-thirds (63%) expected an improvement in the New Zealand economy to take more than a year (56% of men).

“Women are also less likely to feel they have the support of the government when it comes to their business, which may affect how confident they are overall in the economy," Fairkettle adds.

Just 17% of women in business say they are satisfied with the government’s support (compared to the SME average of 24%) and 31% are dissatisfied (compared to 28% of all SMEs).

The MYOB Business Monitor is a twice-yearly survey of more than 1000 New Zealand businesses, of which just over 400 are women.

The results were discussed at MYOB’s inaugural Women In Business luncheon earlier this year, at which Fairkettle spoke about the challenges and opportunities open to women in business, one of the benefits being the ability to manage work/life balance effectively.

“Although it can be incredibly hard work, running a business is also clearly rewarding for those women who choose to own and operate a company of their own,” Fairkettle says.

“Almost two-thirds - 64% - say they are happy with their work/life balance. 17% are dissatisfied and the remaining 19% are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.”

According to the MYOB Business Monitor, the top 3 reasons women start a business are:

• 37% were looking for a total lifestyle change from what they were doing previously

• 24% have established their business as an investment strategy for the future

• 21% have taken the opportunity to make money from a hobby or an interest

Social Media

The Monitor also looks at the use of digital media, with over a quarter of women SME operators (27%) using a social media site to promote their business, compared to 21% of men. 20% are using the cloud for business, while only 16% of men use cloud-based services.

Women in business are also more likely to use internet technologies to accept online payments (52%, compared to 49% of all SMEs) and promote their business via search engine optimisation or marketing (29%, compared to 25% of all SMEs).

“Increasingly, we are seeing women shaping their working life around their own requirements and commitments, and the use of technology is playing a vital role in this,” Fairkettle says.

“It’s fantastic to see women achieving so much for the New Zealand economy at present and exciting that they are positioning themselves well to take advantage of future opportunities and growth in the local market.”

“However at the same time it’s important that this contribution is recognised and that support, especially from Government, is focused on creating an environment in which both female and male business owners can take risks and thrive.”

Why are women business owners outperforming men? Tell us your thoughts below

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