Learning from women business owners

Kristin Nelson
Posted by Kristin Nelson
Wealth Management Strategy

Last summer I was thrilled to participate in the BNP Paribas Wealth Management Executive Program for Women Entrepreneurs, which brought together an impressive group of women business owners from across Europe, Asia, and the United States.

woman business leader talking on phone in a light-filled startup office, looking at a printout.So many of the women had fascinating stories and experiences, and I was in awe of their accomplishments. I was also struck by how much these women had in common.

In BNP Paribas’ annual global survey on entrepreneurs, here are some of the 2016 trends regarding women business owners in the United States:

  • Female entrepreneurs in the U.S. hold less diversified portfolios (than in other countries) and are among the most highly allocated to their own business – on average, 24% of total wealth is tied up in their corporate interests.
  • Around half of the female respondents (49%) have no family background of business ownership compared to the overall female average of 36%.
  • 22% of female entrepreneurs have accumulated the majority of their wealth from the retail industry.

For me, the two themes that jump out from those stats are diversification and smart leadership.

Diversification is a key tenet for many business owners as well as high net worth individuals, as it may help protect you from risk. For a global snapshot on the diversification of holdings among entrepreneurs in 2016, check out this summary of the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report.

For additional thoughts on diversification, I recommend this blog post from my colleague Wade Balliet.

Regarding leadership, I’m impressed that such a large percentage of U.S. women business owners are not reliant on a family background of entrepreneurship. You may infer a streak of independence, as in these women are blazing new trails alone. I think it may also mean they are good at building partnerships and getting help from trusted sources who aren’t family members.

Two years ago, in Bank of the West’s annual survey of small business owners, a significantly higher percentage of female business owners relied on advisors such as accountants and lawyers in starting their businesses than men did. In addition, 44% of the women surveyed listed financial advisors as a key asset (as opposed to 35% of male respondents). For more, see this blog post from Michelle Di Gangi.

I’ve seen firsthand how building relationships with a trusted partner, such as a financial advisor, has helped women business owners succeed on many different levels, both in the U.S. and abroad. Their stories continually inspire me.

To learn more about wealth management services at Bank of the West, visit our site.

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