Dr. Laurel Ofstein's research shows how women entrepreneurs use grit and resilience to achieve profitable growth

photo of Laurel Ofstein working at her desk in her office“This is not just a story about barriers. The women in this study persevered and adapted in spite of the challenges they encountered.”—Dr. Laurel Ofstein

More women are starting businesses than ever before. Between 2007 and 2018, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 58%—nearly five times the national average—yet, just 2.2% of all venture capital in the U.S. goes to companies founded solely by women.

Beyond access to funding, there is no shortage of challenges women entrepreneurs face. But Dr. Laurel Ofstein, associate professor of management, has found that—regardless of obstacles—female founders use grit, resilience and leadership to achieve profitable growth.

Ofstein contributed to a study led by Dr. Lakshmi Balachandra of Babson College that revealed three key themes around the hurdles women face in growing their businesses: market misperceptions, network exclusion and managing expansion with underfunding.

“We found that there are gender-based impediments for women entrepreneurs in growing their businesses, even after significant success (defined in this study as $5 million in annual revenue) has been achieved,” Ofstein says. She adds that commitment to long term growth is critical, even when that strains existing resources.

The authors concluded the study by offering a number of actionable strategies, such as developing strong workplace cultures, buying from and funding women-owned businesses and creating new, more inclusive networks, which can lead to long-term success for women entrepreneurs.