Passion: The Leading Motivation for Women Business Owners

When addressing the reasons that drive people to open a small business, it seems that we've always assumed women, specifically, leave corporate America to achieve a better work-life balance. A new survey of 300 women business owners (WBOs) suggests differently, and the time couldn't be better to dive deep as it is National Small Business Week (May 4-8, 2015).

For the third straight year, and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) surveyed NAWBO members on the 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. It asked about their passions, their investments, and concerns.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the survey:

Passion trumps work/life balance. Family -- and by extension work/life balance -- ranked next to last of the top five key motivators for starting a business. The ability to express passion for their vocation ranked first at 92 percent, followed by the ability to be their own boss.

Optimism keeps rising. For the third consecutive year, survey respondents were mostly optimistic about overall business performance from both a general and economic standpoint. Between the 2013 survey and now, women business owners with a favorable view of the economy increased 16 percentage points. Many respondents said that the "time has never been better" for women to start their own businesses.

Marketing matters, but confidence lags. Marketing is the top investment area for women business owners, followed by product and service development. At the same time WBOs see business websites as most important marketing tool (92 percent), while social media and search engine optimization ranked second and third, respectively. Those who view a mobile-optimized website as important trended upward by 29 percent since 2013. Despite these gains, the number of women business owners who said they lacked the confidence to use these tools, especially for their own business' websites, grew by 25 percent between 2013 and 2015.

Education, regulation and labor costs are important. As with last year's survey, the state of the economy, taxes and health insurance costs led the list of important business trends and issues. When asked about issues that keep them up at night, education and its impact on the quality of the workforce rose 8 percentage points, to 59 percent of WBOs, between last year and 2015. Labor costs, availability of skilled workers and immigration reform and regulatory burdens also received attention by those surveyed.

For a more thorough look at the 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, click here.