In addition to ongoing gender disparities, inflation, labor shortages and supply chain issues are making it harder for women entrepreneurs to succeed. But, a Morris County businesswoman says that despite historic economic challenges, 65% of small business owners say they're optimistic about the financial trajectory of their business this year.
By Geraldine Keogh
As a mother-daughter duo running a business, my daughter and I went through some of the most difficult times of our lives during the pandemic. Over two years later, we’re still dealing with serious challenges like workforce and supply chain issues that threaten our business every day.
Women entrepreneurs traditionally face more challenges when starting a business, and existing gaps for women only widen when tough times arise. According to an earlier survey from Goldman Sachs, 48% of female-owned small businesses noted they were struggling financially compared to 39% of our male counterparts.
In addition to ongoing gender disparities, inflation, labor shortages and supply chain issues are making it harder for us to succeed. A new survey of graduates of Goldman Sachs’ business education program, 10,000 Small Businesses, recently found that 78% of small business owners say the economy has gotten worse in the past three months. It also found that 93% are worried about the U.S. economy experiencing a recession in the next 12 months.
But amid historic economic challenges, 65% of small business owners say they are optimistic about the financial trajectory of their business this year.
Women entrepreneurs in particular represent hope for the economy and our country.
Nothing is more emblematic of the American Dream than starting a small business. It defines your financial future and makes a lasting impact on your community. It is why millions of Americans try their hand at building their own enterprise, eager to turn their passion into a reality. As an immigrant from Ireland, I’ve been fortunate to live this dream with my family since we opened Dessert Ladies in 2010.
Even though entrepreneurs can creatively maneuver around economic tumult, we need outside support and investments to ensure women-owned small businesses can withstand future challenges.
Government initiatives like the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan were lifelines to many. For me, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses was my lifeline, fortifying my company for what may come. Using the skills I learned in the program, I was able to open a second business using my news skills.
While I was fortunate to overcome the dual challenges that small businesses and women face, there is still more work to do if we want to uplift other women. We must make our voices heard because our businesses are key to economic recovery locally and nationwide.
To reach that goal, the government and the private sector must come together to find a solution. That’s why I’m joining more than 2,500 entrepreneurs at the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit On July 18 in Washington, D.C. The event will be the largest gathering of small businesses, a community of which I am proud to be part.
Top of mind for me is to ensure the government is living up to its promises of opening its federal contracts to more women- and minority-owned small businesses. The government also needs to enhance and bolster policies and programs designed to help small business employers and employees with the high cost of child care. We also need to see a modernizing of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which has not been reauthorized since 2000.
Despite obstacles known and unknown, I am encouraged by my fellow female entrepreneurs who continue to press forward. Spanx founder and CEO Sara Blakely said, “Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.” We must remember our ability to pivot places us at the forefront of innovation.
Geraldine Keogh is the owner of The Dessert Ladies in Stirling.
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