Women Buy 3 out of Every 10 Businesses We Sell in Canada

The evidence is out there: more women in Canada now own businesses and more women in Canada are now engaged in starting businesses. The count varies according to who reports what and where.*

But what our brokerage can report firsthand is that more women today are selling businesses and buying businesses:

  • The percentage of women clients selling businesses is around 20 percent, and
  • The percentage of women clients buying businesses is around 30 percent.
  • Other members of the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) have also experienced an increasing percentage of business sales and purchases by women.

I was pointed recently to an online article in Entrepreneur on why women entrepreneurs should consider buying a business. The article was accompanied by a large infographic “Women and Acquisitions” that showed dramatically how only 3 percent of women were involved as buyers and 7.5 percent of women were involved on the buy-side or sell-side of an acquisition.

And of those selling their business 50 percent were involved in female-based niches i.e. home décor, baby and mama. That the infographic was based on a three-year study of women participation in buying or selling online businesses appeared in smaller type.
One explanation given for why women weren’t looking to acquire, was that women were “more likely to make their decisions based on emotions rather than based on outcome. As a result, most women will be less likely to want to buy someone’s business.”

Also “Because women have a tendency to view their business more as a part of their identity, it seems that they are less likely to want to make someone else’s business their own.”

Sounds like the Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus theory.

Our experience at Sunbelt Canada has been very different.

The statistics in the article relate to online businesses, which are often acquired by technical people rather than entrepreneurs, and these often require a very high tolerance for risk.

As we said earlier, we have a much larger percentage of women buying and selling businesses. What businesses are they buying or selling? There is a considerable range: they are buying restaurants, bars, retail stores, advertising and marketing firms, publishers, office and home cleaning services, senior care services, handyman service businesses, decorating-related businesses, pet food and pet-servicing businesses, professional service businesses such as occupational therapy, accounting practices, law firms, architects, dentists, veterinarians, writers, distributions firms, spas, hair salons, fitness centres and yes – online stores.

The businesses we do not see women buying are construction companies, those providing plumbing, trucking, forestry, manufacturing, etc. — basically businesses that are blue-collar trades-related business. However, even here small shifts are taking place and women are making some inroads.

What we have found is that women with families are less risk tolerant than men with families. They tend to be better at developing systems and documenting them, which leads to a more balanced life. They tend to be better at getting and acting on input from staff and clients. They tend to be more focused and less likely to go off on tangential expansions. They tend to keep their financials in better order. They tend to follow the “test and measure” practice better than men. On the other hand, though, they often have lower self-confidence and are more timid in their marketing and their “promise” to customers. They tend to have a much smaller BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). This is inhibiting. This is also gradually changing and as more role models exist and greater numbers of women choose entrepreneurship the lower levels of self-confidence will disappear

If you think owning a business may be for you, contact Sunbelt Business Brokers at the office nearest you. We will help you make the right choice, minimize risk, help to secure financing, include a training and transition program to get you started on the right foot, and guide you through the process of making a successful acquisition.

*Data from the 2014 Global Entrepreneurship Model (GEM) shows the gap ratio of men to women in business has narrowed by 6% and identifies 7 women for every 10 start ups by men in Canada. Business Development Bank of Canada’s pages say women lead a third of Canada’s small and medium-sized businesses and that men are 2.3 times more likely to start businesses than women.

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Gregory Kells
Greg Kells is the Founder and President of Sunbelt Canada, the number one business brokerage in the country. He has directly facilitated the sale of over 1,000 businesses and is a two-time winner of Businessperson of the Year in Ottawa. Greg is passionate about mentoring and teaching, with experience as a guest lecturer at Harvard, Yale, Duke, and various colleges across Canada. He is active in numerous community organizations and advocates for economic empowerment, the environment, science, and technology.
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