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Women's entrepreneurial journeys

A group of women working on a project

During the last 50 years, the number and scope of women-owned businesses have risen at a virtually unprecedented rate. This historic expansion is due to the efforts of courageous women who have been willing to take the leap and become entrepreneurs, at times capitalizing on groundbreaking legislation specifically related to equality. Women are starting and growing their own businesses at record rates. Women business owners drive economic growth and have societal impact. Bank of America is proud to present its white paper, Women's Entrepreneurial Journeys: Profiles in leadership in an era of new opportunities, which examines whether there is something distinct about how women approach entrepreneurship, create and direct wealth, and define success.

The paper is based on interviews with eight women at different stages of their personal and professional lives. Their companies cover a wide range of industries, are located across the U.S. and all, but one, have annual revenues exceeding $5 million. Six began their careers as legislative, educational and societal changes in the 1960s and 1970s were offering women new opportunities in the business world. Also profiled are two Millennial women who founded companies in a decade when far more women are economically empowered.

Our goal in this paper is to uncover the journey to leadership of successful women business owners, their impact on society and the factors contributing to their success in creating wealth and growing their businesses. In the course of interviewing the business owners, five prevailing themes emerged:

  • People and culture
  • Education, experience and a little luck
  • Access to capital
  • Resiliency and optimism
  • The importance of women's leadership

All of these admirable women became successful business owners who have brought financial value, innovative skills, enduring cultures and job creation to the U.S. economy, society and their respective industries. Their stories reveal that expanding educational and entrepreneurial opportunities for young girls and women goes beyond simply supporting gender equality; it is also about creating brand new pathways for women to lead and, just as our eight entrepreneurs did, contribute to the economy and society.

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