Almost one-third of small businesses in the United States is owned by
women. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, That number is on the
rise, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, especially in fields that
were once considered male-only territory.
On the move
Chances are, a few decades ago, a moving company, with all of its trucks
and heavy duty equipment, would have been owned by a man. But Apple
Transfer, a company located in Fredericksburg, Virginia, belongs to
She is president and CEO of the company, which helps move households and
businesses all across the U.S., and overseas.
Ayers started the company with her brother Joe Garlick, in 1988. When
they started out, it was just the two of them.
“We actually had one small truck, on trade," she says. "He did the
moving and I took care of the office."
Today, she oversees a fleet of trucks and a large storage facility,
employing up to 100 people during peak moving season.
Ana Harvey, assistant administrator for the Office of Women’s Business
Ownership at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), says
women-owned small businesses in the U.S. are flourishing.
“If you think about 1979, only 5 percent of privately owned businesses
in this country were owned by women," she says. "So here we are in
almost 2013 and 30 percent of the privately owned businesses are owned
According to Harvey, the trend started with a federal law passed in the
“Back then, there was an act passed that allowed women to actually get a
loan without having a male co-signer,” she says, “and that really made a
difference in terms of women business ownership.”
And then, says Harvey, there’s been the economy.
“There’s been a batch of layoffs, and women just turn around and say,
‘You know what, I’m going to look for a business but in the meantime I’m
going to start something I’ve always wanted to do.’ And that becomes the
Harvey, who used to be a small business owner herself, adds the federal
government is there to help women in a number of ways.
“Last year we helped about 160,000 women with business plans, marketing
plans, social media interactions; everything that you need to build a
business," she says.
And while the SBA, which promotes the development of small businesses in
the U.S., is not a lender, it does work with banks and micro lenders to
make sure that entrepreneurs have capital to start or grow a business.
The SBA also assists small business owners like Barbara Ayers to procure
The bulk of her client base comes from the Department of Defense.
However, the savvy business owner says she heeded some advice that has
served her well:
“I had a wise person tell me a very long time ago, ‘Don’t put all your
eggs in one basket,’" she says. "So we try to make sure we are
diversified in our client mix.”
In addition to government contracts and corporations, her clients also
include private citizens, whom she affectionately refers to as “our moms
and pops and our aunts and our uncles.”
Women in male-dominated areas
Government support has also helped entrepreneurs like Ayers explore
businesses that have been traditionally closed off to them.
in the trucking industry and so I’m a novelty because this is
traditionally a male-dominated industry," she says. "So I sometimes find
resistance. No reflection on men, but it is just the attitude and the
thought of the way that it was.”
But Ayers says it has all been worth it.
“When I’m driving on the highway, and I see one of my trucks, it is a
very proud, proud moment as I see it drive by,” she says.
Judging by the statistics, it's a feeling being shared by a growing
number of American women entrepreneurs.
"I say to anybody, ‘Just do it!’” says Ayers. “You will have your trials
and tribulations, you will have your sleepless nights, but you’ll never
know unless you try, and it is very, very rewarding, extremely