By far the most compelling, and fastest-growing, sector of our economy encompasses what was once a greatly outnumbered domain. Today, statistics speak to the contrary in regard to women- and minority-owned small businesses: According to the National Foundation for Women Business Owners, at the end of 1996, one-third of all U.S. businesses were owned by women, and they generated nearly $2.3 trillion in sales--an increase of 236 percent over 1987 figures.
The numbers are even higher for 1997, and experts don't foresee them slowing anytime soon. "I think it's going to be dramatic," Winters says. "I think financially they will be funded, and I think the population they're selling to will be just as diverse as they are. I believe if you're a minority business owner, you'll be able to sell more effectively to some of those minority groups. The numbers of white males [in business] are decreasing significantly, just as the numbers of women and [minorities] are increasing."
The apparent success of both minority- and women-owned firms, however, all comes down to support, and these businesses are presently getting a lot of it. "The financial services industry is recognizing them as a viable group," says Winters, "so business loans are being directed to those types of businesses. Wells Fargo, NationsBank, Chase--they all have special programs, especially for women-owned businesses."