(Bloomberg) — Women created about half of new US businesses for the third year in a row in 2022, largely driven by a desire for flexibility and financial stability.
That compares to just 29% before the pandemic, according to a survey by small business payroll firm Gusto Inc. And women are generally more likely to say their business has done better than expected.
For all owners, 41% said they started their business out of financial necessity amid high inflation, up from about a quarter in 2021. That was particularly a driver among the 27% of firms that started as a side hustle, Gusto said.
Tammy Szijarto was running her consultancy Project Scaleup on the side for more than 10 years before making the leap to full-time in 2022. Her firm, which works with Ascender, a nonprofit incubator, helps other entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and acquire startup financing.
“The applications that we’re getting, the majority of them will be from women and minorities,” Szijarto said. “For the first time ever in 2022, we had to actually make room for a male founder because the vast majority of those who applied and who got accepted into our incubation program were women.”
All demographic groups cited flexibility as the top reason to start a business, like working from home. Gusto also found that mid-career workers 35-54 were most likely to say they started their own firm because they were burnt out from their jobs and wanted more control over their schedule — something that was particularly felt by women in the pandemic as well.
New business formation tends to rise in times of economic uncertainty, and Covid-19 was no exception. About 5.1 million applications were filed last year — or nearly 14,000 a day — and even more were created in 2021, according to the Census Bureau. That’s up from 3.5 million in 2019.
While the pandemic imposed great financial hardship on many Americans, others grew stronger given the housing market boom, a rising stock market, and government relief payments. These gains created a strong environment for many people to create their own business, as roughly two-thirds of owners drew from personal savings, Gusto said.
Even as the economy slides closer to a recession after a year’s worth of interest-rate hikes from the Federal Reserve and an evolving banking crisis, most new entrepreneurs haven’t taken any actions to prepare for a possible downturn yet. But some are starting to — 30% increased their cash reserves and 10% are reducing hiring, according to Gusto.
Gusto surveyed nearly 1,600 new business owners from Feb. 7 to March 14.