Survey of women small business owners: Trends, challenges, and insights

Women who own small businesses are looking for resources to tackle a challenging year.

In the third quarter of 2023, Truist surveyed 502 women who own small businesses.Disclosure 1 Our findings shed light onto their economic outlook, stress levels, and concerns. Plus, they talk about where they turn for guidance—from personal connections to online information.

How women small business owners feel about the future of their business and the overall economy

Compared with the responses to Truist’s surveys of 279 women owners in Q1 2022 and of 262 in Q1 2023, surveyed business owners said their confidence in their own businesses and the overall business climate has fallen sharply over the last year.Disclosure 2 The women surveyed rate the strength of their own businesses highest but are less optimistic in their assessment of local, U.S., and global economies.Disclosure 1

Percentage of women small business owners reporting somewhat to extremely strong confidence in: 

During 2023, women business owners have become less confident in their business prospects, in their local economy, and in the overall economy.

The stress levels of women small business owners

More women business owners feel stressed about their businesses, reporting a significant jump in stress levels through 2022 and 2023. Many feel their company performed better financially a year ago compared with today.

Percentage of women small business owners who are somewhat to extremely stressed about their business:







The percentage of women business owners who report improved company performance over the last year has fallen by half from 72% in Q1 2022 to 37% in Q3 2023. 

Women business owners are focused on generating a steady income and cash flow.

The primary goal of most women owners who responded to our survey is to provide for themselves and their families. Profits and customer satisfaction are the top metrics used to measure performance.

Top two measures of success

  1. Profit
  2. Customer satisfaction

Generating a steady income is the top goal.

Percentage of women small business owners who said their primary goal for their business is:

Operating a business that generates a steady income


Operating a business that serves my community


Operating a business that can be inherited by my family


Operating a business that can be sold to increase personal wealth


The top concerns on the minds of women business owners

According to results of our survey, women business owners are looking for resources to address their top three concerns of inflation, rising costs, and finding new customers. Half of respondents cited marketing and sales strategies as helpful resources to grow their businesses.

Finding new customers is a top concern.

Percentage of women small business owners who said one of their top concerns is:

Finding new customers


Rising costs




Generating sufficient cash flow


Economic uncertainty


Where woman-owned businesses want support

Percentage of women small business owners who want resources to help with:

Marketing and sales strategies to grow the business


Managing cash flow


Managing personal finances


Managing the business through a crisis/economic downturn


Where do women business owners go for help?

Women business owners often acquire needed skills through self-learning and on-the-job experience. Many of the respondents report first seeking help through personal connections, including entrepreneurs, networking group participants, and mentors. They also look online for information and training.

Where women go for advice

  1. Entrepreneurs who are family members or friends
  2. Small business networking groups
  3. Business mentors or coaches

Places to acquire business management skills

Percentage of women small business owners who report acquiring business management skills through:

Self-taught through books and other resources


Trial and error


Learning from past business experiences


Learning from experienced colleagues or mentors


Online courses or webinars


Workshops, seminars, or training programs


Formal education or business courses (e.g., business degree, MBA)


The challenges for woman-owned businesses

Women business owners responding to our survey cited access to capital and support from local government and community as their greatest challenges.

“I think the biggest challenge I face as a young, female, minority, small business owner is access to people with more experience in business.”


“As a minority/female business owner, the biggest challenge that I face is funding.”


“Financial backing is the single-most challenging aspect of running a Black woman-owned business.”

The biggest challenges for woman-owned businesses

Percentage of women small business owners who reported a significant challenge in:

Access to capital and funding (e.g., loans, lines of credit)


Getting support from my local government


Getting support from my local community


Opportunities to network with other minority or female business owners


Availability of/access to mentors


Access to business education and training


Find the resources that can help your woman-owned business be successful.

Our teammates are ready to support you with advice and expertise to help your business thrive. Set up a virtual or in-person appointment, call 844-718-1530 to talk with a Small Business consultant, or visit Truist Small Business to learn how we can help your business reach its goals.

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