TROY – According to the latest census data, women are opening businesses in the United States at 1.5 times the national rate, and that growth of women entrepreneurship is well-represented by the number of women-owned businesses in Downtown Troy and throughout the city.
New businesses, like the Botanic Studio, Collar City Fitness and Anchor No. 5 Boutique, have opened in the past year, while long-standing businesses continue to thrive and grow despite a down economy.
The American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Business report, released last week, said that New York has an estimated 622,300 women-owned businesses that employ more than 460,000 people and worth about $87 billion. The number of women-owned businesses in New York state has grown nearly 58 percent since 1997, higher than the 50 percent growth nationwide. New York ranks 10th for the growth of women-owned businesses in the nation.
Walking down River Street in Downtown Troy, there are multiple women-owned businesses on each block. Standing in Monument Square, Truly Rhe, Martinez Gallery, Illium Café, Collar City Fitness and Pigment Art Supply are all women-owned and line the square. Debra Lockrow, owner of Artcentric Gift Gallery at 274 River Street, said she has been self-employed or a business owner for more than a decade.
“I’m a very independent person, and I’m much more comfortable being a boss than having someone tell me what to do,” said Lockrow, who in addition to running her store has been a freelance photographer for 11 years and previously owned a photo lab. “It’s not for the faint of heart. You have to be creative about how you market your business, and you have to be stubborn. You also have to treat people well, because referrals are how you survive.”
Lisa Barone, co-owner of internet marketing and branding company Outspoken Media, also felt that women have a natural inclination for marketing.
“I think women are often innately more skilled with that than men,” she said. “We’re a lot better at talking to people, getting to know them, and then crafting a message that is perfectly suited for that person. That’s a marketing goldmine.”
Barone founded Outspoken Media with Rhea Drysdale in 2009, and have grown to six employees, with plans to nearly double that number before the end of 2011. Barone said that Troy is a great place for someone to own a business, and that the high number of women-owned businesses allows for networking opportunities.
“I think women often have a tendency to want to build things whereas men often just want to win,” said Barone. “My partner Rhea and I often grab coffee or lunch with fellow women business owners to pick each other’s minds, to offer assistance, and to look for opportunities where we can work together. These types of things really help to lift everyone up and create an environment where we’re working together.”
While the number of women-owned businesses is growing, revenues and employment still lag behind national averages. According to the report, growth rates by revenue and employment size indicate, however, that women-owned firms are keeping pace with all firms along the business size spectrum – but only up to the 100 employee and $1 million revenue levels.
To access the full report, visit www.OPENforum.com/women.