A survey conducted by business software vendor, Sage, has revealed women are more likely the cautious pragmatists of the business world then their male counterparts.
The Sage SME Sentiment Index shows female business owners are more likely to prepare and invest for business development even though they remain more uncertain about Australia's economic upturn in 2011.
It also showed four main differences between the sexes in the business sector:
- About four in 10 male business owners consider their business is progressing from last year; three in 10 women share the same sentiments.
- A third of male business owners believe the economy is recovering from 2010, as compared to a quarter of women.
- Where males generally focused on the challenges of revenue growth and customer acquisition, women concentrated on the challenges of rising costs and recruiting employees. In the last 12 months, women were more cautious in issues such as lowering prices for customers, taking on more debt in business expansion and in limiting staff pay rises.
- By mid-2012, 62 per cent of female business owners intend to escalate the use of online software and services, compared to 51 per cent of males. In the past 12 months, women actively maintain their business web presence more and recognise their online presence as essential to future business success. The study hypothesises that this may be due to women's greater usage of the online retail and service related environment.
Sage managing director, Alan Osrin, said, “Despite their concern for the economy and a consequent more conservative approach to finance, women take a far-sighted approach to equipping the business for growth.”
The report showed the effect of the global financial crisis (GFC) exerts a considerable pressure across all businesses – with 82 per cent of women and 73 per cent of men stating their costs have amplified since the GFC but revenues have failed to rise by the same margin.
It also confirmed business with women owners experience almost 20 per cent less cash flow issues since the GFC than males.
To cope with marginal profits, more males were likely to reduce investment in the business compared to females.
More women identified rising costs as the number one business challenge in 2010 and anticipate that it will remain a key challenge for the year ahead. However, only a third of companies have put in place documented plans to tackle the problem – again, more pronounced among women.
Other key business challenges for 2011 include: gaining new customers and accessing new markets, managing cash flow, recruiting employees and funding and access to capital.
The research report also revealed that technology usage tops the priority lists for businesses in 2011.
Note: this is vendor-sponsored research