The COVID-19 pandemic gave women who dreamed of starting a business a unique opportunity to bring their visions to life, according to a new survey from AARP Research.
Two-thirds of women (67 percent) who have started a business since January 2020 said the pandemic was a motivating factor. The national survey was conducted in the summer of 2022 and included 608 women age 40 and older who started businesses with up to 100 employees between January 2020 and June 2022.
The survey found that while aspiring entrepreneurs quickly pivoted to passions over the past two years, they still had to grapple with many of the same challenges women who start small businesses often face.
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When Grim Kells — who uses they/them pronouns — was laid off from their job as a special education teacher in March 2020, music became a form a therapy and a business opportunity. Kells had cofounded a small record label in 2018 to help raise funds for a nonprofit organization to prevent violence against LGBT communities in Virginia. When other work opportunities dried up during the era of pandemic restrictions, Kells focused on making Grimalkin Records a success, they tell AARP. The music, and the label’s mission of nurturing queer and LGBT artists, struck a chord and built a grassroots audience. Kells’ satisfaction over the past two years matches the 98 percent of survey respondents who say they made the right choice going into business for themselves.
Many new businesses are doing well financially
A new wave of business owners is emerging in the wake of the pandemic: lifestyle-driven entrepreneurs. The face of retirement has changed and the notion of aging has been disrupted. Many entrepreneurs 40-plus are looking to ramp up, not down. The survey found that a quarter of women entrepreneurs said they always wanted to start a business, followed by a fifth who say they did it to follow their passion.
Still, many understand that passion alone doesn’t automatically equate to quick success. Expectations match reality for the 37 percent of respondents who said their business is performing as expected financially, 22 percent said performance is slightly better than expected, and 17 percent said it’s much better.
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