Index shows that nearly half of women business owners will be looking to hire in the next twelve months.

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Women business owners remain cautious about the economy with most indicators slightly declining according to the sixth Key4Women Confidence survey conducted during October 2011. More than 70 percent reported employment stability while 44 percent plan to increase hiring in the next year.
“While women business owners remain cautious, they are continuing to use this time to improve their businesses, adjust their practices and poise themselves for growth,” said Maria Coyne, Key Bank’s head of Business Banking and founder of Key4Women. “The survey shows that women business owners are investing in their businesses, creating new products, seeking new opportunities— taking innovative actions to ensure future growth.”
To position their businesses for the post-recession upswing, most respondents have made significant investments to their businesses including 55.2 percent creating new products and services; 53.8 percent increasing in marketing and advertising; 33.8 percent implementing or upgrading technology; 24.1 percent investing in their business, and 16.6 percent hiring new employees.
 The semi-annual Key4Women Confidence Index measures women business owners’ business confidence and challenges. One third of the women business owners in the W-Biz panel expect business conditions to improve in the next six months, down from  the 59.5 percent  who felt that way in April 2011 and  identical to the 33.3 percent who felt that way  a year ago. Notably, fewer women business owners think the economy will be worse in six months, 12.4 percent as compared to 16.7 in October 2010.
“The survey results show that women business owners are currently less optimistic about the economy than they were in April 2011 when it comes to general business conditions,” said Patricia Greene, board chair of the Center for Women’s Business Research and Professor at Babson College. “However, when we compare October 2011 to October 2010, we see similar levels of confidence, just slightly more negative, across these indicators. Interestingly, it’s the employment indicators that are slightly up.”
Employment Outlook
When looking at the employment picture, the survey showed a somewhat brighter outlook. More than two-thirds of the respondents, 72.4 percent, stated that their total number of employees remained stable. Slightly more women business owners in the panel reported an increase in the last quarter, 16.6 percent as compared to 15.6 percent in October 2010. In addition, the survey shows that 44.1 percent of women business owners plan to increase their number of employees in the next year, up from 41 percent reported in April 2011. Nearly 50 percent of the respondents anticipate keeping their number of employees the same and only 6.9 percent indicated a decrease in employment.
Identifying the single, most important problem facing their businesses today, 36.6 percent indicated poor sales, an increase from 30.5 percent from the April 2011 survey, followed by 15.9 percent competition from larger businesses and 8.3 percent who indicated taxes. 
When asked about the most important thing they have learned about running their businesses, respondents focused on cash flow management with reducing expenses as the most common strategy. Others cited improving employee management, networking, leveraging social media and marketing.
Fewer women sought credit with 52.4 percent reporting that they did not want any credit as compared to 38.7 percent of the respondents in October 2010. In addition, fewer women business owners, 26.9 percent in October 2011 as compared to 35.4 percent in October 2010, received all, more or some of the credit wanted.
About the Key4Women Confidence Index
The Center for Women’s Business Research partners with KeyBank on the Key4Women Confidence Index to investigate how women-owned firms are faring in the larger economy. The semi-annual index, conducted in the spring and fall each year, tracks trends on specific variables of importance to business sustainability and growth. 
The survey for the current Key4Women Confidence Index, conducted in late October, had more than 145 women business owners responding from a pool of more than 400 members of the W-Biz Insight panel. The W-Biz Insight panel is a diverse group of women business owners, including new and veteran business owners from a range of industries, whose companies have annual revenues from less than $25,000 to more than $15 million. The companies range from sole proprietorships to those with more than 100 employees. The panel includes, but is not limited to, Key4Women members.
About the Center for Women’s Business Research 
The Center for Women’s Business Research provides data-driven knowledge that advances the economic, social and political impact of women business owners. The Center does this by setting the national agenda, creating insight on the status and achievements of women business owners, altering perceptions about the economic viability and progress of women-owned enterprises, and driving awareness of the economic and social impact of this vital business sector. The Center is continuing to accept new members of the W-Biz Insight panel. Women, who own at least 25 percent of a business and would like to participate in future surveys, can register at
About Key4Women 
Key4Women is a KeyBank program dedicated to helping women business owners achieve success by providing them access to capital, customized solutions, ongoing education, and networking opportunities. The program is grounded in research and insights that show women business owners face distinct challenges from, and do business differently than, their male counterparts. Key4Women is delivered to the client by a dedicated team of Key4Women Relationship Managers throughout KeyBank's 14-state footprint. Passionate about helping women business owners achieve success, Key4Women has, since 2005, lent $3 billion to qualified women-owned businesses, and has pledged to lend another $3 billion to women-owned businesses by 2012. Key4Women increases resources to women business owners through national and local partnerships, including those with the Women’s President Organization (WPO), the Center for Women’s Business Research, and the Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP). For more information, visit
For more of Maria Coyne's thoughts on the Key4Women Confidence Index and other business topics, visit her “Maria on Money” blog at
About KeyCorp
KeyCorp was organized more than 160 years ago and is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio.  One of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies, Key has assets of approximately $89 billion. 
Key provides deposit, lending, cash management and investment services to individuals and small businesses in 14 states under the name of KeyBank N.A.  Key also provides a broad range of sophisticated corporate and investment banking products, such as merger and acquisition advice, public and private debt and equity, syndications and derivatives to middle market companies in selected industries throughout the United States under the KeyBanc Capital Markets trade name.
For more information, visit KeyBank is Member FDIC.      

By Nancy Sullivan,, 781-239-4623 | 12/07/2011 09:45