Women small business owners are optimistic about a post-pandemic world
New Visa research for International Women’s Day reveals female founders adapt to adversity, are dedicated to safer shopping
It takes optimism to get through a pandemic. And if you’re a small business run by a woman, odds are you’re optimistic about what’s ahead. Eighty-three percent of female respondents to a Visa study indicate they are hopeful about the future, with many indicating they are adapting and even growing in the new business climate.
These were the findings from the new Visa Back to Business Study - 2021 Women’s Edition, published as Women’s History Month begins — a pivotal time for companies to support female-owned and operated firms with financial and educational resources. The report features data collected from 2,250 female small business owners and 5,000 female consumers across nine markets around the globe.
Female business owners may be optimistic, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to keep their doors open. The vast majority of respondents said they had to take measures to adapt to challenges presented by COVID-19 and 84% of female small business owners took steps to adapt their payments methods to meet evolving needs of shoppers.
Despite the challenges of 2020, it’s clear from the data that savvy female owners realize new business opportunities and leverage technology and online selling to stay connected to customers.
This includes Ngina Shulman, founder and owner of Lotus Media based outside of Seattle. The mom of two started a business converting old video tapes to digital a few years back when she saw a market opportunity to help families preserve their memories.
What started as a local business quickly spread thanks to the power of the internet. Positive online reviews from customers helped generate more than 20,000 orders, according to her web site. Tapes came in from as far away as Hong Kong.
Like any small business owner, Shulman felt the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, but also pivoted to take advantage of technology to keep the orders coming. She spent more time networking online to connect with other business owners outside Washington State. In the process, she was able to find new customers and rethink her business approach.
“We are an online company with a local focus, but now we are seeing that we can go global, she says. “I'm sure there are people all over the world that could use our services.”
Going global, staying local
Shulman’s observation would be shared by many of the respondents to the Visa Back to Business Study - 2021 Women’s Edition. More than a third of female respondents (37%) saw COVID-19 as more of an opportunity than a challenge. Of those, 42% said they were able to focus on new or different products and another 37% expanded their sales channels.
Despite the rapid acceleration of online sales and digital payments, in-person shopping is poised for a comeback: consumers still want experiences in the real-world, especially in sectors like retail and apparel. Just over half (51%) of women who responded to our survey indicated they intend to do most of their shopping in-person after a vaccine is widely available.
That’s good news for entrepreneurs like Shulman who pride themselves on their personal service and community connections. “We have people who have called us up and want to make sure we are a local business, they want to support local businesses,” she says.
“We have the best customers.”
Got a small business? Visit the Visa Small Business Hub for resources, tips, partner links and more.