Women Business Owners: Part One ... Clout
Women Business Owners: Part Two ... Credit
Women Business Owners: Part Four ... The Internet
Women Business Owners: Part Five ... Capital
Women Business Owners: Part Six ... Capital
Hi-tech is no longer "guy stuff." The second annual survey by the National Foundation for Women Business Owners, now the Center for Women's Business Research (CWBR), underscores that women-owned businesses are now as likely as men-owned businesses to invest in and use computers and information technology. However, women entrepreneurs differ from men entrepreneurs in the ways they make their purchasing decisions. Commissioned by the IBM Corporation, this most recent study of computers and information technology in women- and men-owned businesses was also supported by AT&T. These are the first national studies to compare women- and men-owned businesses' use of technology.
"Women-owned firms are every bit as focused on keeping technology up-to-date and available for future growth as are men-owned firms," commented Susan Peterson, NFWBO Chair and president of a Washington, DC-based communication training firm. "However, women business owners place much more emphasis on service, price and the vendor's reputation and experience."
Fully nine in ten business owners -- both women and men -- are using computers in their businesses. However, this research discloses that the criteria employed by women business owners for selecting technology and a technology vendor differ from men:
- Almost 80 percent of women business owners place great importance on a 24-hour or toll-free help line compared to only 63 percent of men entrepreneurs;
- Women business owners are more price sensitive than their male counterparts (92 percent compared to 85 percent say that price is an important decision factor); and
- Women place higher value on ease of installation and use, a warranty and the computer vendor's reputation and experience.
The advice and experience of fellow business owners is more important to women business owners than it is to men business owners. They are less likely than men business owners to look for technology information from computer-related publications, general interest magazines, business association meetings and the Internet.
As with all businesses in the United States, women-owned businesses have substantial investments in computer technology. Companies owned by women have an estimated current investment of $106 billion in computer hardware and software, and they are planning sizable investments in the future.
"The National Foundation for Women Business Owners' research shows that the nearly 8 million women-owned firms in the U.S. plan to make $44.5 billion in computer-related purchases in the coming year," declares Cherie Piebes, IBM National Executive, Women and Minority-Owned Businesses. "In addition, the study verifies what IBM has recognized that women business owners make their purchasing decisions differently than men. That is why IBM has developed marketing programs specifically directed to women entrepreneurs."
Women and men business owners are equally likely to recognize the potential of the Internet and the World Wide Web for the growth of their businesses. About one-third of all businesses (31 percent) are now connected to an Internet service provider (ISP), and 56 percent anticipate becoming regular users within five years.
"This study re-affirms that women business owners, like their male counterparts, realize that the Internet can help them open up new business opportunities and gain quick access to valuable information," comments Richard Falcone, Vice President, Commercial Markets of AT&T. "We at AT&T are committed to helping these businesses accelerate their learning curve to gain the benefits of the Internet."
These findings affirm the expectations of the NFWBO’s antecedent study. Laura Henderson, Chair, National Foundation for Women Business Owners, and President and Chief Executive Officer of Prospect Associates (Rockville, Maryland) had recognized, "Women-owned businesses are growing more rapidly than is the overall economy. The vast majority of women entrepreneurs recognize that technology is key to their growth and success. They are leveraging information systems in their businesses and positioning themselves to benefit from the latest advances."
Similarly, Pete Andino, General Business Director of IBM (United States) had emphasized, "The business environment today is fiercely competitive. Women business owners are gaining a competitive edge because of their sophisticated approach to technology."
This column is based upon research conducted and published by the National Foundation for Women Business Owners (now the Center for Women's Business Research), 1411 K Street, NW, Suite 1350, Washington, DC 20005-3407.
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Revised: April 15, 1998 TAF
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