Accelerating Women is a non-profit research project funded by Status of Women Canada.
The project is funded under Economic Prosperity: Positioning Women for Success // Theme 1: Increasing or Strengthening Economic Opportunities for Entrepreneurial and Professional Women.
According to GEM (2009), regardless of country, educational attainment, work status and income, women tend to be less confident and more pessimistic when compared to their male counterparts. (Maura, 2013)
For the past 30 years, research has suggested that women entrepreneurs face unique challenges in growing their businesses. Entrepreneurship has historically been constructed as a male-centered and masculine trait. Indeed, narratives of the “lone wolf” or the independent and competitive risk-taker have traditionally been associated with men (McAdam, 2013). However, despite this, research indicates that more and more women are engaging in the world of self-employment, while contracted among men (TD Economics, 2015). Women are choosing to engage in economic upliftment for themselves and their communities.
Our project aims to assess how women do business; despite the masculinization of entrepreneurship, we know that women’s experiences in the world shape and impact their business life. How are women heard? How do women define success? What are the daily challenges of running team meetings as a woman? At the same time, women’s unique position can create opportunities for industry. We know that women possess great resilience and leadership skills. What are some of the ways women play on their gender identity to market, innovate and increase profitability? How do women collaborate with each other to create opportunities and strengthen their brands? These are all important questions that Accelerating Women intends to probe.
Secondly, depending on the metric used, small companies represent between 92 to 98 per cent of all companies in Canada, yet they only account for 53 per cent of the country's GDP. Studies indicate that the labour productivity in small Canadian companies, as measured by nominal GDP per hour worked, is 47 per cent of the productivity of larger firms. In contrast, for small companies in the United States, the difference is 67 per cent. In addition, we believe that our gap analysis may reveal systematic problems within specific sub-segments of women-owned businesses. This project intersects with research that identified the opportunity to make a significant impact on Canada's GDP by empowering women-owned businesses to become more profitable.
There is an opportunity for smaller Canadian companies to close this gap with the right supports and evaluation tools. However, government funded supports and best practice research for small companies in Canada tend to focus on two small sub-segments: start-ups and companies with significant growth opportunities. This leaves a gap for established "Main Street" businesses that may be struggling with operations and profitability.
It is our goal to map out supports, along with gaps, for women-owned businesses with an emphasis on "Main Street" businesses and to also evaluate perceived and unperceived needs of these businesses.
As a result, this project will enable Biz-Zone to develop intellectual property for conducting two community-based assessments:
There are many wonderful non-profit and government supports for business that provide invaluable services to startups and growing companies. Yet the people who are often best positioned to tackle the most important questions about how business can be more successful — the entrepreneurs — are often too busy building companies to do this.
As the publisher of CanadaOne.com, one of Canada's largest independent small business resource sites, there is an incredible alignment between bizZone and a project focused on business success factors. Founded in 1998, CanadaOne has helped over 6 million Canadians start and grow their businesses, providing free "just-in-time" answers to critical business questions.
BizZone is also a woman-led technology company. The company's co-founder, Julie King, started her first business at the age of 26 and has been actively involved in the tech and digital media sectors since 1996. The inspiration to do this project stems from Julie's observations of thousands of business stories observed over the past 17 years in her role as managing editor of CanadaOne, as well as her own experiences as a female entrepreneur.
This makes BizZone uniquely positioned to drive this project.
 Canada-United States Labour Productivity Gap Across Firm Size Classes http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/15-206-x/2014033/part-partie1-eng.htm
 Action Strategies to Support Women’s Enterprise Development http://sites.telfer.uottawa.ca/womensenterprise/files/2014/06/taskforce-report-2011.pdf
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