Women business owners are a force to be reckoned with and are strongly driving the US economy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, they own more than 12.3 million companies across the country, employing over 14.8 million people and generating more than $2.4 trillion in sales. And the good news is that there’s an increased optimism from women-owned businesses about the potential of their companies, with 58% expecting their revenues to increase in the next fiscal year, up from 44% who said the same in 2017.


A new study by Bank of America found that 56% of women entrepreneurs plan to grow in the next five years, with 21% planning to hire more workers in the coming year. These women are not just feeling positive about their future growth but about the economy as a whole. They predict their  local economies will improve by 49%, while 48% expect the national economy to improve in the next year. These numbers are double the percentages from 2016.


The Bank of America study also found that women are leading the charge in the use of technology to drive their businesses forward. Among small businesses shifting to digital payments, 33% of women are using mobile devices for financial transactions compared to 26% of men. Additionally, about 42% of the women surveyed are also currently using or exploring the use of one advantage technology such as 3-D printing or virtual reality in their businesses.


But despite having high expectations for their future business prospects, 61% of women business owners admit that there are still barriers to entry that male entrepreneurs do not face, with 68% citing the difficulties women experience gaining access to capital compared to men. The best way to combat this issue? 42% of women believed gender-blind financing was the answer, while 24% felt increased education and training was a solution. 16%  felt government loan programs would help address the disparity


A majority, 84% did feel however that there had been some improvement in this area over the past decade.  And additionally according to Merrill Edge Report’s Spotlight on Women, 75% believe that women have gained more financial-decision making power since the late 1900s.