Women-Owned Businesses Taking Twice As Long To Recover From COVID-19

Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce and FreshBooks offer Tips to Help Women Entrepreneurs Reset and Rebound from the ‘She-Cession’

Toronto, Ontario, CANADA


Toronto, CANADA, Dec. 02, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- From job losses to significant drops in revenue, women and women-owned businesses are bearing the brunt of the economic fallout from the pandemic. Now, new data from small business accounting software, FreshBooks, looks at how long it’s taking for women-led businesses to rebound. The study found that, on average, women-owned businesses in Canada are taking nearly twice as long to recover from the financial setbacks brought on by COVID-19 compared to businesses owned by men.

The study, which included over 10,000 small businesses, analyzed data like new invoices created, new clients added and expenses. The data found that it has taken Canadian women-owned businesses ten weeks to begin to rebound, compared with five weeks for businesses owned by men. In some situations, businesses owned by men experienced no disruption at all. 

The survey data shows similar concerns south of the border as well. According to U.S. survey data, nearly 60 per cent of women say it will take them longer than six months to recover their business to previous COVID levels, compared to 47 per cent of men.

"Women-owned businesses tend to dominate industries that involve some form of human interaction such as education or social assistance which is why they were some of the first businesses to be shut down but the last to re-open,” says Levi Cooperman, Co-Founder, FreshBooks. “The lockdown meant many women needed to focus more on being a mom rather than an entrepreneur as they cared for their children and elderly parents. It takes time to pivot your business to adapt to a rapidly changing market and we need to support all entrepreneurs in that process.”

The discrepancies between men and women-owned businesses are more obvious when looking at industries that are rebounding quickly, such as construction. “While many people are staying home, there has been significant interest in home renovation projects,” says Cooperman. “While construction companies owned by men experienced little to no disruption, women-owned construction firms are still under-indexing and recovering at a slower pace.”

Even in industries that skew towards higher rates of women owners, like the Administrative and Support Services sector, women-owned businesses are taking significantly longer to recover than businesses owned by men.

“Women business owners were already challenged by lack of access to capital and greater caretaking responsibilities, and these challenges have been exacerbated by the pandemic,” says Nancy Wilson, Founder and CEO, Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce. “Women spend more time on unpaid domestic and caretaking labour and as a result have less time to allocate to their business. The uncertainty about future closures is also leaving some women in limbo as to what actions to take with their business over the next six to 12 months.”

The Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce offers the following business tips to help women-owned businesses recover to pre-pandemic levels:

  • Get your finances up to date and organized. If the government announces new financial supports, loans, grants, or other programs that you are eligible for, you want to be ready to apply.
  • Don’t go it alone. Connecting with like-minded business owners can provide you with support, information, and accountability when you need it.
  • Make sure your voice is heard. Find out who your MP and MPP is and send them an email. Connecting with a group such as the Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce plugs into a national advocacy network that represents women-identified and non-binary entrepreneurs, founders, and business owners.

Wilson says the structure of financial support programs has been designed for businesses with employees and capacity to take on additional debt, which excludes many women-owned businesses. According to the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions conducted by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Statistics Canada, 36 per cent of women-owned businesses experienced 50 per cent or greater revenue loss, versus 26 per cent for all ownerships so government programs need to start to provide targeted and tailored support for women, particularly those who identify as Black, Indigenous, racialized, LGBTQ2S+, disabled, immigrant, refugee, and other marginalized identities.

While it’s clear that self-employed women have been hit harder than their male counterparts, all businesses are experiencing difficult times during the pandemic. In a pulse check of small businesses in the FreshBooks community, 2,200 survey respondents described in their own words how the pandemic has affected their business. Late payments, non-payments, and cancelled events were just a few of the things that small business owners mentioned having to face during the pandemic. Lowered budgets, affordability issues, and non-payment were a recurring theme with respondents - with multiple people mentioning that they were required to lower their rates to retain business.

 

“While these have been challenging times, many people reported starting new businesses during the pandemic, or seeing an uptick in business - especially true for people who work in marketing and graphic design, since many businesses needed to invest in their online presence,” says Cooperman. “If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s the value of being able to adapt to new situations, no matter how difficult.” 



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About the Study:

The Business Resiliency During COVID-19 study combines survey data from 2,200 FreshBooks customers in the U.S. with business data from over 10,000 small businesses in the United States and Canada. Survey responses were collected online between July and September 2020. The FreshBooks data science team examined a range of metrics (e.g., revenue, expenditures, invoice amounts) to infer the impact(s) of COVID-19 on overall business performance in aggregate as well as by gender and industry.



About FreshBooks:

FreshBooks is the #2 small business accounting software in America, with paying customers in 100+ countries. The company has helped more than 24 million people process billions of dollars through its easy-to-use invoicing, time-tracking, expense management, and online payments features. Recognized with 10 Stevie awards for the best customer service in the world, the company’s mantra is to “execute extraordinary experiences everyday.” FreshBooks is headquartered in Toronto, Canada, with offices in Amsterdam, Netherlands, San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. Learn more at www.FreshBooks.com

 

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