Passion, collaboration and community are key to running a successful business. That’s according to a recent survey of women business leaders as part of PNC’s bi-annual Economic Outlook Survey.

Passion and personal satisfaction for their business or industry is a top factor women business leaders cited for starting and staying in business, with 43% of respondents choosing that over financial success (35%) – the next highest. The passion for work factor was one key differentiator between women and men business leaders, with only 28% of men reporting personal satisfaction as a primary driver of staying in business. Fewer women leaders (6%) also reported staying with their business out of obligation to family or co-workers than did men (12%).

“For many women business owners, starting and running a business is born out of a personal interest or an opportunity to make a difference in the community,” said Shana Peterson-Sheptak, head of Business Banking at PNC. “That’s not at the expense of profitability, but it shows the power of being passionate or satisfied with what you do.”

Positive Outlook for the Future

Respondents noted more than just passion for their businesses, though; they also reported optimism both for the economy and the success of their ventures over the next six months. Women leaders were more likely than men to expect increases in demand (51% to 49%), sales (51% to 49%), prices to customers (49% to 40%), and profits (52% to 43%) in the coming months. They also were more likely than male business leaders to expect that their own compensation and savings for retirement would increase – which is a significant change since PNC’s Fall 2022 survey when women leaders were less likely than men to expect increases in those two metrics.

While both women and men were highly optimistic about the prospects for their business in the coming months, women leaders were significantly more likely to express confidence in the national and local economies than were men, 64% to 51% and 72% to 60% respectively. For those who expressed greater optimism for their business prospects than the national economy as a whole, nearly 80% of women leaders attributed their optimism to the confidence they have in their ability to run their own businesses.

“Better than expected economic performance in the first part of 2024 is creating optimism for many business leaders, both men and women,” Peterson-Sheptak said. “But women leaders are especially confident that, both, their businesses will be successful in the coming months and their abilities as leaders will help make them so.”

Providing Support

Still, there are significant differences between men and women respondents in terms of what they feel they need to succeed and how they prefer to receive support for their business, according to the latest survey results. Peers in the field are the most popular form of support for both women and men business leaders (64% to 69%, respectively.) But women indicate they are more likely to consider support from community, friends and family vital to their business success than men do (62% to 41%).

That support extends to banking relationships where PNC survey feedback has shown that women financial decision makers seek out relationships that extend beyond banking products and services to include financial education and community connections.

PNC cultivates relationships with women financial decision makers in many ways, including through the local cross line of business market teams led by PNC’s more than 50 regional presidents coast to coast. Central to this year-round engagement are the company’s network of more than 5,000 PNC-certified Women’s Business Advocates (WBAs) who share a passion for helping women financial decision makers achieve their financial goals.

“Women entrepreneurs are leading with passion for their business, confidence, and optimism for the future,” Peterson-Sheptak said. “We need to make sure we have the resources and people to support their success.”

To learn more about PNC and how we support women financial decision makers visit Resources for Women Financial Decision-Makers.