When you hear the word “entrepreneur,” Steve Jobs and Bill Gates may be the first names that come to mind. But that may soon change, as more women are at the helm of their own companies.
According to recent research from American Express OPEN, the number of women-owned businesses increased 59% from 1997 to 2013, compared to the total number of businesses, which increased by 41% during the same period. Last year, there were more than 8.6 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., generating more than $1.3 trillion in revenue.
As NBC reports, many of these women business owners were once employed by large corporations, but found it difficult to continue working once they had children. Instead, they launched their own companies that offer more flexible schedules and job responsibilities to fit the lives of working mothers.
Economists attribute this trend to several factors, including the recession, which forced women to come up with new job opportunities for themselves; advances in technology; and the availability of more finance plans that focus on small business development for women.
But despite this growth, women-owned businesses are still relatively rare in the U.S. Firms led by women employ just 6% of all American workers and bring in about 4% of business revenues—numbers that haven’t budged much since 1997. However, revenue growth of women-owned firms does outpace the national average in every category—except those businesses making more than $1 million annually.