Women-owned businesses predicted to add more workers
Nearly 65% of survey respondents say they will give raises this year

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

October 17, 2015

 Karen Ellenbecker, left, founder and senior advisor at Ellenbecker Investment Group, and Julie Ellenbecker-Lipsky, president and wealth advisor, said they plan to hire more employees in the future and acquire smaller financial advising firms.
Submitted photo

CITY OF PEWAUKEE - As a woman-owned business, Ellenbecker Investment Group plans to acquire more small financial advisor businesses in the future and intends to hire more employees - which is in line with what other women business owners said in a recent survey completed by the not-for profit Women Presidents’ Organization.

Julie Ellenbecker-Lipsky, president and wealth advisor, said the business’s goal is to grow by mentoring and supporting its employees, acquiring new women-led financial advisor businesses that are without a succession plan and to continue reaching out to more individual women and couples where women are making the financial decisions.

The WPO summed up the finding of its recent survey by saying “women have grown and are continuing to grow substantial businesses that are having a significant impact on the nation’s economy.”

Ten years ago, according to Marsha Firestone, president and founder of WPO, only 7 percent of WPO member businesses had revenues of $10 million and now 25 percent of the organization’s membership is at $10 million or more in revenue.

The WPO has more than 125 chapters with more than 1,800 members on six continents. New chapters will be launched globally this year in Israel and Malaysia, as well as domestically in Wisconsin and Maine.

The most recent U.S. Census Bureau data showed the number of women-owned businesses increased by 7 percent from 2007 to 2012. In general, women business owners have an outsized impact on middle market economies, according to the Middle Market Power Index released by American Express Global Corporate Payments and Dun & Bradstreet.

“The research indicates that women-owned and women-led firms account for about 13 percent of middle market-firms; they were also responsible for hiring a quarter of all workers and generating a quarter of total revenues for all women-owned firms,” according to a release on the WPO survey.

Women-owned firms are also growing more rapidly than other middle-market firms, according to the WPO. The number of middle-market firms increased by 4 percent between 2008 and 2014; the number of women- owned and led firms increased by 24 percent during the same period.

Ellenbecker Investment Group was founded in 1996 by Karen Ellenbecker, employing three people. Now, the business has about 23 employees.

The perception that women only operate baking and craft businesses from their homes is changing, according to the WPO and Ellenbecker-Lipsky. She said her business wants to be part of the movement that women don’t always have to follow traditional female career paths.

Ellenbecker said while many women do start retail or artisan-type businesses, it’s up to them to grow them. She said often women start new and used clothing stores, which are growing and is one of the largest growing industries for women.

Financing challenges

A hurdle for women-owned businesses can be financing, said Wendy Baumann, president of Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative. She said the market is loosening up and more banks are lending, but not to the level they were before the Recession.

Women tend to start their own businesses while men often buy existing businesses, Baumann said, making it more challenging for women to get financing because they don’t have an established performance record.

Overall, women tend to invest in their employees and employee benefits, Baumannsaid. The WPO survey found that 63 percent of respondents intend to increase their number of employees this year. Of that percentage, 41.5 percent plan to increase the employee number by at least 5 percent, 15.5 percent by 10 percent and 6 percent by as much as 20 percent.

Women employers also plan to increase their employees’ wages, with 64.8 percent of survey respondents saying they intend to increase them by 3 to 10 percent.

Ellenbecker said women business owners tend to offer more flexibility to their employees because they have “a broader sense of employees’ needs.”

“We focus very much on work-and-life balance whether they are male or female,” Ellenbecker-Lipsky said.

By the numbers

7 percent: How much the number of women-owned businesses has increased from 2007 to 2012

63 percent: Survey respondents who said they plan to increase the number of employees this year.

41.5 percent: Survey respondents who said they plan to increase the number of employees this year by at least 5 percent.

64.8 percent: Respondents who said they anticipate increasing their employees’ salaries by 3 to 10 percent

26.9 percent: Respondents who said they plan to increase their own salaries by up to 9 percent this year

Source: Women Presidents’ Organization




Email: kmichalets@conleynet.com