Once upon a time, female entrepreneurs were hard to come by. Women were not all that interested in starting their own businesses, or so the theory went. They were seen as risk averse, lacking access to start-up capital and saddled with biological timelines that made it difficult to start a business and a family.
But in recent years, female entrepreneurs have become a powerful force in the US economy. Today, more than 9m women own businesses there, representing about 40 per cent of all enterprises in the country, according to data from the US Census Bureau.
Meg Whitman, the former chief executive of Ebay who failed to get elected as California’s governor last November, is not at home tending her backyard. Since then, she has joined the boards of Hewlett-Packard, Procter & Gamble (which she left during her campaign for the Republicans) and Zipcar. Most interestingly, she has joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm, as a special adviser, helping to evaluate digital investments.
Tomorrow in the UK, the Woman’s Hour programme on the BBC’s Radio 4 launches a new thread titled “Women in Business”, which will follow the fortunes of three women entrepreneurs and their mentors. It follows recent reports of a large increase in the number of women starting businesses from home.
Up there with losing weight, visiting the gym and giving something up, starting your own business is a regular feature of lists of New Year’s resolutions.