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Women-led businesses say the outlook is bright, but here's what's holding them back

Anjalee Khemlani
Senior Reporter

Small businesses owned by women are optimistic about the future, according to a new report from Bank of America, which showed 84% of female-led establishments expecting sustained growth despite an increasingly gloomy economy.

The bank’s 2019 Women’s Business Owner’s spotlight showed that among the demographic, both revenue expectations and expansion plans are on the rise — and stronger than male-owned entrepreneurial ventures.

Female bosses surveyed by BofA also plan to hire new talent, and a majority expect the economy to improve over the next year. However, they also see politics as the top issue as the run-up to the 2020 general election gets more raucous.

Sharon Miller, BofA’s head of small business, told Yahoo Finance the data indicate the environment for small business is moving in the right direction, but there is still more work to be done.

Critics have frequently cited the lack of funding available for women and minority-owned businesses, which struggle with money issues more than their counterparts. In 2011 the New York Federal Reserve established an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, which has helped boost the number of financial technology and microlending platforms for women entrepreneurs.

“I sit down with women all the time, whether white or person of color, and I would tell you that there’s some common themes,” she said. Topping the list is access to capital and financial education for novice entrepreneurs, Miller added.

“When most businesses get started, some go to friends or family, some go to credit cards— there’s all sorts of creative stories I know,” Miller said.

Rearview of a female entrepreneur on the top of a modern business office skyscraper standing near big panoramic windows and pensively looking at a construction site and the cityscape; reflecting floor

The bank has moved to address those issues, Miller said, including offering loans for under $250,000 for some businesses. According to the executive, BofA has one in every three small businesses in the U.S. as its client — and 40 percent of those clients are women-owned businesses.

Bank of America’s survey data was collected from over 500 women-owned small businesses, with the majority located in large metropolitan cities such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

With such a wide swath of backgrounds, Miller said BofA partners with community development institutions, and works with businesses at the micro level, to figure out “the right business plan to think about what’s happening with your local economy,” she added.

“Because what happens in San Francisco is very different than Miami. And so those are the kinds of conversations we have with women.”

Yahoo Finance's All Markets Summit on October 10

Anjalee Khemlani is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @AnjKhem

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