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Research looks at why female-owned businesses performed worse than male-owned businesses in 2021

Posted by Shivali Anand

May 5, 2022    |     3-minute read (590 words)

Sales declined and costs increased in 2021 for many female-owned enterprises, according to the findings of a Biz2Credit Women-Owned Business Study conducted in 2022. 

The repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 were also more severe for female-owned businesses, many of which have historically been less well-funded than male-owned businesses, the study also found.

Notable findings

During 2021, the researchers assessed 100,000 companies from around the U.S. to obtain insights into the financial performance of female-owned, small- to medium-sized businesses. 

The following are the researchers’ most significant findings:

• Revenue for female-owned enterprises decreased by 4% annually, while expenses increased by 3% on average.

• The average income (that is, the gap between yearly sales and operating expenditures) of female-owned enterprises declined by 26%.

• Texas had the highest number of business loan requests from female-owned enterprises, accounting for around 10.84% of all loan requests.

• Services emerged as the leading industry in the survey, accounting for about 31.93% of female-owned businesses.

Consider the following data for female-owned firms for 2021 versus 2020:

Average annual revenue … $475,707 vs. $493,401

Average earnings … $88,895 vs. $119,654

Average expenses … $386,712 vs. $373,748

Average credit scores … 580 vs. 588

Analysis of female and male-owned enterprises

When comparing the success of female- versus male-owned enterprises throughout the specified time period of 2021, the data reveals a broader issue: Female-owned businesses saw a revenue difference, earning an average of $199,936 less per year than male-owned businesses in 2021.

Furthermore, whereas the average annual income of female-owned firms decreased by 4%, the average yearly revenue of male-owned enterprises decreased by 2%.

Women-owned firms were outperformed by male-owned enterprises in various other metrics as well. For example, the average credit amount for women-owned enterprises was a startling 41% smaller than the average loan size for male-owned businesses.

The following are some specifics from the study:

Metric Female-owned businesses Male-owned businesses
Women-to-men borrowing ratio 33%  67%
Average annual revenue $475,707 $675,643
Average credit score 580 594
Average loan size $49,712 $83,198
Average age of business 4 years (45 months)  4 years (48 months)

Female-owned firms were also underrepresented in round 2 of the Paycheck Protection Program, in which Congress authorized $284 billion for small business COVID-19 relief. According to the study's data analysis of PPP loan applicants, 49% of those who applied for loans under PPP round 2 were female company owners. However, the average amount awarded to these female entrepreneurs on the Biz2Credit website was only $23,101, compared to $36,348 for applicants classified as male business owners on the platform.

Other findings

By geography: Among the states, Texas had the highest number of business loan applications from women-owned businesses, followed by Georgia, Illinois, Florida, California and New York, in that order.

By industry : In 2021, about one-third of the female-owned businesses that sought business loans were in the services industry (excluding public administration). Here's a more in-depth look at the Biz2Credit data.

Sector Female loan applicants
Services  31.9%
Retail 15.07%
Accommodation & food services 9.07%
Health care & social assistance 7.41%
Transportation & warehousing 5.44%
Arts, entertainment & recreation 4.66%

But wait, there is an upside 

Although the average yearly income of female-owned enterprises decreased, one reason for this is that women started new firms at a higher rate during the pandemic compared to previous years. The average age of proprietors of female-owned firms has also decreased, from 56 years old in 2020 to 45 years old in 2021.

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