The report, developed from an annual survey* of more than 600 women business owners (WBOs) from around the nation, also shows that while the state of the economy is the top concern for most (90 percent) WBOs, the majority (89 percent) are also optimistic about their overall business performance in 2014.
“Our report reveals that women business owners are optimistic about the future of their businesses and the opportunities that exist for other women to start up new businesses as well,” said Angela Venti, President of NAWBO South Jersey. “At NAWBO, we work hard to ensure that the women business owners and professionals in our community have the skills, tools and support they need to achieve their goals.”
When asked about their biggest near-term concerns over the next six months, the top issue – cited by 90 percent of WBOs – was gaining new customers, and 81 percent are concerned about keeping their existing customers. To address these challenges, WBOs are emphasizing investments in customer service (69 percent) and marketing (62 percent) over enhancing their products (48 percent) or hiring (26 percent).
WBOs also place a higher priority on online marketing in 2014, with a larger focus on investing in their mobile presence (+13 percentage points from 2013), social media presence (+ eight percentage points), ecommerce (+ six percentage points) and website (+ three percentage points). Eighty-five percent of WBOs believe social media is important for creating and maintaining customer relationships, and 79 percent plan to invest in their social media presence in 2014.
The 2014 report also shows:
Taxes, access to health insurance and energy costs are top WBO worries.
In addition to their economic concerns, 80 percent of WBOs are worried about business tax issues, up 12 percent from 2013. As for other issues keeping WBOs up at night this year more than last, 71 percent say the cost and accessibility of health insurance is a significant issue (+ two percentage points); 61 percent cite having access to capital (+ six percentage points); and 51 percent say fuel and energy costs are a concern (+10 percentage points from 2013).
While social media marketing is a priority, WBOs lack confidence in their abilities and vastly underutilize these channels.
While 85 percent of respondents say social media is important for building customer relationships, only 67 percent of respondents currently use social media to connect with customers. That means a significant 18 percentage point gap between recognized importance and actual use of social, which leads to a tremendous missed opportunity. Just more than half (54 percent) of respondents are confident in their ability to build a social media presence for their business, and only a quarter of them are posting on social media at least once a day. Most WBOs (54 percent) are posting one to six times per week, and 23 percent rarely post at all. When they do use social media, WBOs’ preferred platforms are LinkedIn (25 percent), Facebook (21 percent) and YouTube (20 percent).
“Women small business owners recognize the importance of the web, mobile and social media to engage, capture and nurture customer relationships, and they are increasing investments in these resources to drive growth,” said David L. Brown, chairman, CEO and president of Web.com. “However, WBOs face unique challenges in social media, where they lack either the expertise or time to realize the full potential of this channel. Small business owners who prioritize the web and social media in their marketing mix – or find a partner to help them gain this expertise – will reap the benefits of increased customer engagement and satisfaction.”
To join your local South Jersey NAWBO chapter and receive the support you need to achieve success, visit http://nawbosouthjersey.org/
Founded in 1975, the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) (http://www.nawbo.org) is the unified voice of America's more than 10 million women-owned businesses representing the fastest growing segment of the economy. NAWBO is the only dues-based organization representing the interests of all women entrepreneurs across all industries. NAWBO develops programs that help navigate women entrepreneurs thought the various stages of their business growth.
About NAWBO of South Jersey
Chartered in 2003, The National Association of Women Business Owners-South Jersey is a vibrant, professional group of women and men who come together to connect, learn and grow through networking and educational events. NAWBO of South Jersey strives to help others grow in business by offering education and resource to women business owners in our region, and by providing exposure and promotion avenues for increasing member visibility. They offer events and membership opportunities in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem, Atlantic, Cape May and portions of Mercer counties.
The 2014 online survey of 606 NAWBO members was fielded by NAWBO from January 21-February 11, 2014, with a ±2.25% to 2.74% margin of error at a 95% confidence level.