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Women business owners lead with passion, optimism for success


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Passion and personal satisfaction for their business or industry are the top factors women business leaders cited for starting and staying in business, with 43% of respondents choosing that over financial success (35%) – the next most common factor. This passion was one key differentiator between women and men business leaders, with only 28% of men reporting personal satisfaction as a primary driver of staying in business.

“For many women business owners, starting and running a business is born out of a personal interest or an opportunity to make a difference in the community,” said Shana Peterson-Sheptak, head of Business Banking at PNC. “That’s not at the expense of profitability, but it shows the power of being passionate or satisfied with what you do.”

Positive outlook

Respondents noted more than just passion for their businesses; they also reported optimism about the next six months, both for the economy and the success of their ventures. Women leaders were more likely than men to expect increases in demand (51% to 49%), sales (51% to 49%), prices of their goods and services (49% to 40%), and profits (52% to 43%) in the coming months. They also were more likely to expect their own compensation and retirement savings to increase – a significant change since PNC’s Fall 2022 survey when women leaders were less likely than men to expect increases in those two metrics.

While both women and men leaders were highly optimistic about their near-term prospects for their business, women were significantly more likely to express confidence in the national and local economies than men, 64% to 51% and 72% to 60%, respectively. Of those who expressed greater optimism for their business prospects than the national economy, nearly 80% of women leaders attributed their optimism to confidence in their abilities.

“Better than expected economic performance in the first part of 2024 is creating optimism for many business leaders,” Peterson-Sheptak said. “But women are especially confident that both their businesses will be successful in the coming months, and their leadership abilities will help make them so.”

Providing support

According to the latest survey results, there are significant differences between men and women in terms of what they feel they need to succeed and how they prefer to receive support. While peers in the field are the most popular form of support for both women and men business leaders (64% to 69%, respectively), women indicate they are more likely to consider support from community, friends and family vital to their business success than men (62% to 41%).

That support extends to banking relationships. PNC survey feedback has shown that women financial decision-makers seek relationships beyond banking products and services, including financial education and community connections.

PNC cultivates relationships with women financial decision-makers in many ways, including through the local cross-line of business market teams led by PNC’s more than 50 regional presidents coast to coast. Central to this year-round engagement is the company’s network of more than 5,000 PNC-certified Women’s Business Advocates who share a passion for helping women financial decision-makers achieve their financial goals.

To learn more about PNC and how it supports women financial decision-makers, visit pnc.com/women.

“Women entrepreneurs are leading with passion for their business, confidence, and optimism for the future,” Peterson-Sheptak said. “We need to make sure we have the resources and people to support their success.”