Women-owned businesses account for nearly 1.5 trillion dollars in revenue, and female entrepreneurs employ over 7.9 million people in the U.S. With such striking statistics, it’s easy to see how women are leading the way in job creation and having a major economic impact. Women are a true inspiration in my work every day, and I believe technology continues to be a catalyst in helping them achieve even more.
What technology has made possible for any entrepreneur or business owner is quite astounding. Of course, the advent of the Internet generated entirely new industries in which to establish new businesses and tore down geographic boundaries that separated businesses from customers and new markets. But, on a more individual basis, technology now delivers a level of flexibility and mobility that enables every entrepreneur to define her own workstyle and lifestyle. And, none more powerful than that of cloud technology, which has transformed the capabilities accessible to new and smaller businesses.
For the equivalent of four gourmet coffees a month, an entrepreneur can acquire all the technology they need to start a business. Most business processes are available through cloud services by subscription and are maintained by cloud services providers. This enables a new business to be up and running in a matter of hours, with professional email, a full suite of productivity applications and enterprise-grade communications tools like instant messaging, voice and video conferencing—all requiring neither an investment in expensive hardware nor a full-time IT staff.
As many women entrepreneurs will acknowledge, there’s really no separating work and life, and most business owners I come in contact with don’t want to be tethered to a desk. With cloud technology, you can communicate with your team from anywhere on virtually any device. This type of flexibility enables the type of work-life blend that many women seek as they juggle business and home lives. From productivity applications to the latest security advancements, technology helps level the playing field for female entrepreneurs.
The story of women entrepreneurs isn’t complete without discussing the challenges and key developments pertaining to issues like women’s access to credit and the cultural expectations that have, to a certain extent, limited many women’s ability to pursue entrepreneurial ventures. Even though women have faced an uphill battle in their entrepreneurial endeavors, the challenges have fostered new strength and determination that prove integral to their ultimate success.
For example, restricted access to credit led women to start businesses on shoestring budgets, deepening their financial savvy and leading them to find efficient and economical ways to fulfill business needs. Social norms that designated business as an arena exclusively for men motivated women to form networks and alliances that are now critical sources of support for women entrepreneurs. Today, organizations such as the Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC) help provide women business owners and entrepreneurs with a variety of support and services, including help in securing rounds of venture capital.
Technology is opening up opportunities—not just for women, but for all entrepreneurs—to launch and grow their businesses. I encourage you to explore the ongoing wave of innovation, in areas such as cloud-based solutions, to discover potential new opportunities, transform your business, achieve and do more.
Vice President of U.S.Small &
Midsized Business at Microsoft