In 1988, some states still had laws preventing women entrepreneurs from obtaining a business loan unless the consent of a male relative was forthcoming. In that year, the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) was formed “to serve as an independent source of advice and counsel to the White House, U.S. Congress and the U.S. Small Business Administration on issues of impact and importance to women business owners, leaders and entrepreneurs.”
On August 9, I was honored to participate in the NWBC’s Seattle Solution Lab, which gathered women entrepreneurs, policy makers, and leaders to discuss the declining participation of millennial women as business owners. I was surprised to learn that, as compared to prior generations, millennials are less inclined to start businesses. According to the NWBC’s 2016 Annual Report, “[L]ess than 4 percent of 30 year old millennials reported self-employment compared to 5.5 percent of Generation X and 6.7 percent of Baby Boomers at that same age. The decline in entrepreneurship by today’s young adults is alarming given the importance of new businesses to job creation and economic growth.” Further, according to another NWBC report, “[o]nly 3 percent of millennial women are self-employed at unincorporated businesses and 0.8 percent of millennial women are self-employed at incorporated businesses.” That’s not many.
Our group discussed a variety of reasons why entrepreneurship is proving to be difficult for millennial women, including the increasingly high cost of living in Seattle, which creates challenges in saving sufficient capital to start a new business. In addition, millennials are facing the financial burden of student loans as higher education costs sky rocket, the difficulties in obtaining affordable childcare, and, also, the lack of support for small businesses in local government, as demonstrated by the Seattle City Council’s decision to support an income tax with a disparate impact on small business owners.
Another disturbing finding of the NWBC is that, “[M]illennial women entrepreneurs exhibit lower average self-employment income than millennial men entrepreneurs, even in popular industries with greater women representation, such as Health Care and Social Assistance.” For example, women entrepreneurs who classify themselves as Childcare Worker average $12,762 in self-employment income, as opposed to $27,989 for men listing the same occupation.
I strongly encourage all of you to think of ways to mentor and support millennials who seek to start new businesses! And, when you vote this fall for Seattle City Council members and a new mayor, be sure to research each candidate’s positions on how they plan to support small businesses in Seattle.
 National Women’s Business Council, 2016 Annual Report, p. 3.
 National Women’s Business Council, “ Millenial Women: The Future of Entrepreneurship in America,” p. 3. Emphasis in original.
 Id. at pp. 12-13.
 Id. at p. 26.
 Id. at p. 27.
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