Women & Minority-Owned Businesses

Purchasing Strategies of Women Entrepreneurs

Purchasing Strategies of Women Entrepreneurs

The annual MasterCard Worldwide "Women in Small Business" survey was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs to highlight the success and growing power of women-owned small businesses in the United States. The survey, which polled 400 women entrepreneurs between Sept. 24 and Oct. 7, focuses on the challenges women small business owners face in running successful businesses, including the rising cost of healthcare and other expenses. In addition, the survey offers insight into common business practices, including purchasing strategies and payment methods for business-related expenses. Specific survey findings are outlined below.

Segment Snapshot: Women-Owned Business Sector Continues to Experience Healthy Growth

  • As of 2006, there are estimated to be 7.7 million majority women-owned firms (firms at least 51 percent owned by a woman or women). 1
  • Between 1997 and 2006, the number of majority women-owned firms increased from 5.4 to 7.7 million, an increase of 42 percent - almost double that of all firms (23 percent).1
  • Women-owned firms currently employ nearly 13 million people and generate $1.9 trillion in sales.2

2007 MasterCard "Women in Small Business" Survey Results*
*Note: The following information is based on responses from the 400 women entrepreneurs polled for the "Women in Small Business" survey.

Success of Women-owned Small Businesses

  • More than three-quarters of women-owned small businesses (78 percent) have been in existence for more than 10 years, indicating a healthy business climate for small business operation.
  • One quarter of women-owned small businesses (25 percent) generate between $1 million and $5 million in revenue annually.

Payment Card Use

  • Payment cards are prevalent among women small business owners. In fact, more than three-quarters of respondents hold either a credit or debit card (82 percent), while 24 percent hold both. In 2006, 19 percent of women entrepreneurs surveyed held both.
  • More than three-quarters of respondents hold a credit card (76 percent), while 30 percent hold a debit card. In 2006, 52 percent held a credit card and 30 percent held a debit card.
  • More than three-quarters of women entrepreneurs (82 percent) say they completely separate personal and business finances. Only 5 percent reported no separation, while the remainder (13 percent) reported some overlap. In 2006, 53 percent of women reported complete separation of personal and business finances.


  • Almost half of women entrepreneurs (45 percent) currently take advantage of rewards - such as points, special offers and/or merchant discounts - provided through business credit or debit card use.
  • More than one third of respondents (35 percent) who use rewards do so to save money on the things they buy. Other reasons women small business owners take advantage of rewards include to receive cash back (18 percent) and to benefit their personal life (14 percent).
  • More than half of women small business owners (55 percent) agree that they would save more money for their business if it was convenient to take advantage or redeem coupons, rebates and discounts at the merchants they shop at most.

Managing Finances

  • Almost one-third of women small business owners (29 percent) use a money management software application to manage their business finances, roughly the same as 2006 (33 percent), though employing an accountant remains the number one method for financial management (41 percent). Just one percent use cash and receipts.

Motivations & Challenges

  • The primary motivator for women to start their own business is the opportunity to be their own boss (32 percent). Additional reasons include the opportunity to generate household income (22 percent) and added flexibility with their schedule (13 percent). These top reasons are relatively unchanged from 2005 and 2006.
  • The main challenges women entrepreneurs said they face in running a small business are stretching themselves across multiple roles and projects (21 percent), healthcare costs (12 percent), balancing family and work (11 percent) and lack of time to focus on generating new business (11 percent). Challenges associated with effectively managing cash flow are also cited.

The Benefits of MasterCard Payment Solutions for Small Business Owners
The MasterCard "Women in Small Business" survey results (outlined above) offer insight into the payment and purchasing strategies of women small business owners. MasterCard business payment solutions offer the following benefits for small business owners and can help them successfully manage and grow their business:

  • Rewards programs - Small business cards often offer flexible and valuable rewards, including reward air travel with no blackout periods, discounts at retail locations and with merchant partners, and even cash back on purchases.
  • Financial organization - With a business card, business owners keep their business and personal expenses separate while receiving additional accounting advantages, including itemized quarterly and annual purchase summaries.
  • Establishing a business credit history - By establishing business credit history that is separate from their personal credit history, entrepreneurs are more likely to qualify for business lending sources when the need arises.
  • Distribute purchasing responsibilities - Business owners can provide certain employees with their own business cards while dictating specific spending controls and restrictions. The business owner can then track and manage these additional accounts via the Internet with a number of web-based reporting tools that can be accessed at virtually any time.
  • Cash/money management - Detailed, timely and accurate reporting tools accompany business payment cards. In addition to managing and tracking employee spending online, business owners can receive comprehensive daily, weekly or monthly financial reports to improve efficiency and streamline accounting processes.
  • Zero Liability - Zero liability protection means small business owners and their employees will not be held liable by card issuers in the event of an unauthorized use of their business credit or debit card in a store, over the telephone or online.

2007 MasterCard Initiatives Geared Toward Small Businesses

MasterCard Easy Savings
On September 24, 2007, MasterCard launched Easy Savings, a savings program for MasterCard BusinessCard credit and signature debit cardholders. The program, which includes merchants from airline, hotel, restaurant, travel and other business services categories, offers MasterCard small business cardholders easy, automatic savings on goods and services every time they use their MasterCard BusinessCard credit and signature debit cards for qualified purchases at participating U.S. merchants. Financial institutions offering their small business debit and credit card customers the benefits of the MasterCard Easy Savings program include Bank of America, Bank of the West, KeyBank, Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo, with additional financial institutions continuously joining the program. The new initiative is an extension of MasterCard's commitment to offer innovative payment solutions to small businesses to enable them to grow and manage their businesses successfully. More information is available at www.mastercardeasysavings.com.

1Center for Women's Business Research Report, 2006
2Center for Women's Business Research: Key Facts about Women-Owned Businesses - 2007 Update