Second-annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report shows optimism up 12 percent from 2013; economy, taxes and healthcare continue to be top concerns; and emphasis on customer service and marketing over hiring
WASHINGTON - March 12, 2014 - Nearly nine out of 10 women business owners (87 percent) are optimistic about their business' economic outlook this year, a 12 percent increase over 2013, finds the 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and Web.com Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: WWWW).
The report, developed from an annual survey* of more than 600 women business owners (WBOs) from around the nation, also shows that while the state of the economy is the top concern for most (90 percent) WBOs, the majority (89 percent) are also optimistic about their overall business performance in 2014.
"Women small business owners are not just more optimistic about their own businesses, they're also more bullish about the prospects for female entrepreneurs who are just starting out. Our report shows that 92 percent of WBOs predict that more women will start their own business this year - an eight percent jump over 2013," said Billie Dragoo, national board chair of NAWBO. "With a positive outlook and strong entrepreneurial spirit, women business owners continue to be a driving force of our economy."
When asked about their biggest near-term concerns over the next six months, the top issue - cited by 90 percent of WBOs - was gaining new customers, and 81 percent are concerned about keeping their existing customers. To address these challenges, WBOs are emphasizing investments in customer service (69 percent) and marketing (62 percent) over enhancing their products (48 percent) or hiring (26 percent).
WBOs also place a higher priority on online marketing in 2014, with a larger focus on investing in their mobile presence (+13 percentage points from 2013), social media presence (+ eight percentage points), ecommerce (+ six percentage points) and website (+ three percentage points). Eighty-five percent of WBOs believe social media is important for creating and maintaining customer relationships, and 79 percent plan to invest in their social media presence in 2014.
The 2014 report also shows:
Taxes, access to health insurance and energy costs are top WBO worries. In addition to their economic concerns, 80 percent of WBOs are worried about business tax issues, up 12 percent from 2013. As for other issues keeping WBOs up at night this year more than last, 71 percent say the cost and accessibility of health insurance is a significant issue (+ two percentage points); 61 percent cite having access to capital (+ six percentage points); and 51 percent say fuel and energy costs are a concern (+10 percentage points from 2013).
While social media marketing is a priority, WBOs lack confidence in their abilities and vastly underutilize these channels. While 85 percent of respondents say social media is important for building customer relationships, only 67 percent of respondents currently use social media to connect with customers. That means a significant 18 percentage point gap between recognized importance and actual use of social, which leads to a tremendous missed opportunity. Just more than half (54 percent) of respondents are confident in their ability to build a social media presence for their business, and only a quarter of them are posting on social media at least once a day. Most WBOs (54 percent) are posting one to six times per week, and 23 percent rarely post at all. When they do use social media, WBOs' preferred platforms are LinkedIn (25 percent), Facebook (21 percent) and YouTube (20 percent).
"Women small business owners recognize the importance of the web, mobile and social media to engage, capture and nurture customer relationships, and they are increasing investments in these resources to drive growth," said David L. Brown, chairman, CEO and president of Web.com. "However, WBOs face unique challenges in social media, where they lack either the expertise or time to realize the full potential of this channel. Small business owners who prioritize the web and social media in their marketing mix - or find a partner to help them gain this expertise - will reap the benefits of increased customer engagement and satisfaction."
About Web.com Web.com Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: WWWW) provides a full range of Internet services to small businesses to help them compete and succeed online. Web.com meets the needs of small businesses anywhere along their lifecycle with affordable, subscription-based solutions including domains, hosting, website design and management, search engine optimization, online marketing campaigns, local sales leads, social media, mobile products, eCommerce solutions and call center services. For more information, please visit www.web.com; follow Web.com on Twitter or on Facebook at . For additional online marketing resources and small business networking, please visit Web.com's Small Business Summit.
Note to Editors: Web.com is a registered trademark of Web.com Group, Inc.
Founded in 1975, the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is the unified voice of America's more than 10 million women-owned businesses representing the fastest growing segment of the economy. NAWBO is the only dues-based organization representing the interests of all women entrepreneurs across all industries. NAWBO develops programs that help navigate women entrepreneurs thought the various stages of their business growth.
The 2014 online survey of 606 NAWBO members was fielded by NAWBO from January 21-February 11, 2014, with a ±2.25% to 2.74% margin of error at a 95% confidence level.