The Big Role of the Small Business Owner

What impact do new small companies have on larger and more established ones? How many women are small business owners? Recent findings on trends in small business explore both questions. Here are a few highlights.

About 30% of the national workforce. About a third of the American workforce is now self-employed or hired by the self-employed, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. That’s 44 million jobs.

This points to the significant role of job creation,” says Rakesh Kochhar, author of the study and Associate Director, Research at Pew. Self-employment, he says, shows what’s going on with the nation’s smallest business owners and entrepreneurs in a more general sense. “These are the nation’s smallest employers, and this is essentially the way station for all entrepreneurs.”

Women small business owners. About half of self-employed women work in:

  • Health care
  • Education
  • Wholesale
  • Retail

In those industries, self-employment is less likely, whether you’re a man or a woman, says Kochhar. But in areas such as construction and agriculture, or business services such as law and finance, he says, “self-employment rates are high whether you’re male or female.”

These differences, explains Kochhar, are also due to job choice and responsibilities outside of work. And although women are more likely to be the primary caregivers even when they are self-employed, they still play a smaller role in financial decisions at home, according to the 2015 Women & Wealth Study by Regions Private Wealth Management.

The Pew study also found that women were twice as likely to say they work part-time for noneconomic reasons. “Family obligations,” says Kochhar, “play a role in determining whether men and women are creating jobs at the same rate.”