In Market: Let’s talk business, women’s business

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Fort Worth is getting down to business – women-owned business

Are you a woman with a business in Fort Worth? It wouldn’t be a surprise if you were.

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According to the latest data from the U.S. Economic Census, Survey of Business Owners, the most growth in women-led businesses between 2002 and 2012 was in the following five cities, in order: Memphis, Fort Worth, Detroit, Charlotte and Atlanta. Breaking it down, Fort Worth’s five-year growth rate for women-owned firms was 78 percent. In total, the survey says, there are 29,425 women-owned businesses in Fort Worth as of 2012.

It’s not just Fort Worth – Texas as a whole did well. In average sales per women-owned business, Dallas was No. 1 nationwide, with Fort Worth at No. 3. In Dallas, more than 91 percent of all women-owned businesses have no paid employees. If only one quarter of these existing 51,798 women-owned businesses added a single employee in the next three years, nearly 13,000 new jobs would be added to the market.

Fort Worth’s share of women-owned businesses that have no paid employees is even higher, 93.4 percent, notes Tiffany Cason, Capital One Fort Worth market president.

“Think what a difference it would make if some of those firms hired just one person,” she says.

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Capital One’s Future Edge initiative funded the study of women entrepreneurs by The Center for an Urban Future.

Cason believes there are several reasons Fort Worth – and Texas – showed up so well on the survey.

“The lower cost of living is one thing,” she says. “Your dollar stretches longer here and if you’re a small business, that’s important.”

Resources are also key, she says. “We have a lot of groups – like the Business Assistance Center and TECH Fort Worth – as well as all those other groups and mentors that entrepreneurs can pull from,” Cason notes.

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A key issue for all entrepreneurs, Cason says, is funding.

“One story I heard over and over again is access to funding, which is key. You’ve got to have persistence” she says. But, “if you’re not passionate about your job, the persistence will eventually fade. You have to have that passion and persistence as a startup business owner, whether you’re male or female.”

Cason says entrepreneurs and investors need to work at finding ways to get in front of each other, but she cautioned entrepreneurs to “worry less about the funding and more about where you’re going to take your company.”

Mentors may be key. During a forum sponsored by Capital One to discuss women entrepreneurs on May 5, one of the quotes shared on Twitter was: “An hour with a mentor saves you 40 hours of hard work!”

Not all the advice shared via the #StartedbyHer was practical; some was simply, well, truth that sometimes hurts. Quoting Louise Kee, coordinator of the Texas Chapter of Golden Seeds, an early-stage investment firm, an attendee tweeted: “Every startup is a country-music song waiting to happen.”

Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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