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VOL. 113 | NO. 239 | Monday, December 20, 1999

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Women business owners influential in consumer spending New study shows women business owners, employees, differ in purchasing styles By LAURIE JOHNSON The Daily News Prior to opening her own business, Shelley Phillipy Baur frequently enjoyed wrapping up her workday with a leisurely trip through the mall. Today, as a business owner whose time is at a premium, Baur becomes a "woman on a mission" when its time to shop, and the objective is to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible. The change in shopping habits following the transition from employee and business owner are no surprise, according to a new report by the National Foundation for Women Business Owners that demonstrates the economic impact of working women. According to the study, there are significant differences between the consumer practices of women business owners and women employees. "Women business owners are more likely than women employees to purchase online, invest in stocks and bonds, and pay for services that make their lives easier," said NFWBO chair Lois E. Haber, who also is president and chief executive officer of Pennsylvania-based Delaware Valley Financial Services Inc. Women business owners are less likely to shop at malls, more likely to shop from catalogs, and more likely to say they want to get in and out of stores quickly than women employees, Haber said. According to the survey, 42 percent of female business owners frequent malls compared to 59 percent of female employees; 30 percent of women business owners shop from catalogs at least once a month compared to 23 percent of women employees; and 67 percent of entrepreneurs, compared to 56 percent of employees, said that when they shop, they want to get in and out of stores in at little time as possible. According to the study, 54 percent of women business owners make purchases only as they need them, compared to 40 percent of employees; 27 percent of business owners say they "love going shopping," compared to 38 percent of employees; and 80 percent of women employees and 74 percent of business owners said they typically combine different errands or tasks in a single shopping trip. "I used to spend more time shopping," said Baur, president and owner of One Source Marketing and partner in Shelby & Associates Training and Development, and a board member of the Memphis Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. "Now, if Im out of town on vacation and I have the leisure time, sure, its fun to shop. But when I have my business hat on, Im a woman on a mission." Baur, who has been in business for herself since 1986, said she agreed with findings in the study, particularly those about wanting to consolidate trips to the store to save time. "There was a time in my life when I absolutely loved to shop," she said. "Now, Im just real focused and task oriented so when I have to do it, I just want to get in and get out." In addition to time considerations, differences in shopping habits also may be attributed to cash flow, as well as differing perceptions about financial security, said Elaine Sanford, president of the Memphis chapter of NAWBO. "Women business owners are at a greater risk, so a number of decisions we make are predicated by who we are. Every dollar we spend impacts our bottom line," said Sanford, partner in the consulting firm Young-Sanford Associates and publisher of Her Business News. "These are the dollars that we have to earn through our business activity, so were less likely to go out and spend it just having fun shopping. Many female business owners also are the heads and primary breadwinners of their own households, Sanford said. "Thats not to say that women employees may not be as well, but if you have a paycheck thats coming in consistently, you can plan a lot better than someone who has to deal with a cash flow issue every month." According to the NFWBO survey, both women business owners and women employees are active Internet users. Six in 10 women business owners and women employees say they use the Internet with some frequency, the survey found. Three-fourths of businesswomen who used the Internet were going online to gather information prior to making purchases. According to the survey, the most frequent online purchases businesswomen make are leisure items, computer equipment and travel reservations. One-third of women business owners and women employees who make purchases online also bank and pay bills online. Women business owners, however, are more likely than women employees to make purchases online. According to the study, 57 percent of women business owners use the Internet have purchased products or services online, compared to 40 percent of women employees. Sanford said when she needs to buy office supplies, she heads straight for the Office Max Web page. "I just place my order right online, and they deliver it the next day or whenever I tell them I need it," she said. "It has been very successful for me. The days of going to the store are pretty much over for me, as far as business purchases." According to the study, female business owners were more likely than employees to be active in the investment arena. Seventy-two percent of women business owners reported they had invested in stocks, bonds or mutual funds, compared to 58 percent of women employees. Not surprisingly, given the time factor, business owners also are more likely to contract for house cleaning and lawn services. Forty six percent of women entrepreneurs employ a house cleaning service, compared to 19 percent of female employees. Forty seven percent of women business owners employ a service to take care of their yard, compared to 22 percent of women employees. "We just dont have the time to do these kinds of things," Sanford said. "And were more accustomed to outsourcing, and having others do things. For people whove never had to deal with vendors or employees, it can be difficult to decide to allow someone to take over these kinds of services for their family." The report, released earlier this month, is based on a nationally representative survey of female entrepreneurs and employees sponsored by AT&T and the Principal Financial Group. According to the survey, there are several other significant differences between women business owners and women employees in the ways in which they purchase goods and services for their households: 54 percent of women business owners make purchases only as they need them, compared to 40 percent of employees. One-third of business women entrepreneurs and employees alike said the environmental "friendliness" of a product was a major influence on their consumer purchase decisions, and one in five agreed that the social responsibility of the company offering the product or service was a major influence. Neither business owners or employees identified coupons and advertising as influences on purchase decisions; however, both groups report that advertising was their primary source of information about the products and services they buy. Women business owners are loyal to the brands they purchase and use many of the same brands at home that they do in their businesses, according to the NFWBO survey. The majority (86 percent) of women business owners said they use some of the same brands of products and services in both their businesses and their households, and this was a conscious decision based on quality, convenience, discounts and experience with the company. Although three-quarters of all businesswomen surveyed currently have life insurance and two-thirds have a retirement plan, less than half of women business owners and women employees have disability insurance. Only 46 percent of women employees and 44 percent of women business owners currently have disability insurance.
RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 57 57 1,266
MORTGAGES 48 48 964
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 1 1 152
BUILDING PERMITS 85 85 2,836
BANKRUPTCIES 34 34 652
BUSINESS LICENSES 10 10 286
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0