Do the differences between male and female business owners matter?
All small business owners bring their own aspirations, personalities, and academic and professional qualifications to their ventures.
Since gender influences one’s life experiences and outlook, it stands to reason that there are likely to be differences between men and women in the way they start, run, and grow their businesses.
A 2010 study by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor and Babson College on women entrepreneurs around the world found that women had lower growth aspirations than men when asked how many employees they expect to have in five years’ time; women were as innovative as men; and women were less likely than men to quit because their businesses are not profitable. Interestingly, the networks of women entrepreneurs and business owners were found to be smaller and less diverse than those of their male counterparts, and women were more likely to be motivated by necessity to start a business, while men were more likely to be motivated by opportunity.
In South Africa specifically, women entrepreneurs showed higher levels of internationalisation (i.e. selling to international customers) than men, men and women were almost equally fearful of failure (women were slightly more afraid), and there were slightly more men than women starting a business. Based on these mixed research findings, it is clear that while there are differences between male and female entrepreneurs, they cannot be used to predict which small businesses are likely to be more successful or offer better products and services.
Research aside, in the real world all small business owners are expected to deliver, regardless of whether they are male or female. Customers still expect value for money, reliability, and products and services that address real needs. Suppliers still expect to be paid on time. Employees still expect to be valued and to work in a conducive environment. Business partners still expect a return on their investment.
All of these business issues require management skills and attributes that are not necessarily gender-specific. However, gender may determine how hard a small business owner has to work to acquire certain skills and networks, or to overcome stereotypes.
Post By: Fadzai Munyaradzi