Busting Myths About Women-Owned Businesses

Nancie McDonnell Ruder
3 min readAug 6, 2021


Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

I did not know I was going to become a business owner. Almost 20 years ago, I moved to the Washington D.C. area driven by a family decision, and I left my job in Chicago, at a place I found very fulfilling. I looked around at the D.C. market and did not see anything immediately appealing to me. I had worked at a large ad agency on well-known brands and evaluated whether I should go to another agency or perhaps shift to an in-house role? While I was deciding, I took on some project work. Then I took on some more. Two years later, I looked up and realized I had started something.

While this has also been the “accidental” path of other female business owners, I do not believe it is typical. Most women I know who are running businesses are intentional from the start, looking to make a specific impact based upon their skill set and passion. I have observed many of these leaders as they start, scale, face setbacks, pivot, juggle family issues — and all of this before we had ever heard of COVID 19. For example, I know a female business owner whose family member embezzled and bankrupted her company. She rebuilt it, scaled it, and is now in the process of acquiring another firm. I know another woman whose husband died suddenly at 48, leaving her widowed with five kids and a business to run. And yet another who successfully shifted her business amidst covid from B2B to B2C when the commercial business suffered. All of these women have children and are the primary breadwinners in their households.

As I reflect on being a women-owned business leader, being in the company of women like this motivates and keeps me going. They inspire me with their commitment, ability to balance their multiple roles (CEO, wife/partner, mother, sister, daughter, community member), resilience, and passion. Yet, I believe there are many misconceptions about women who own and lead a business — assumptions made perhaps because we are female and potentially because we don’t tell our stories enough.

So, below are some myths I would like to debunk, and I would love to hear YOUR story if you are a female business owner.

Myth: Women-owned businesses are rare.

  • Truth: 40% of all businesses are women-owned. That translates to an incredible 12.3 million women-owned businesses this past year.

Myth: Women-owned businesses insignificantly contribute to the economy.

  • Truth: Women-owned businesses accounted for $1.8 trillion of the U.S. economy last year.

Myth: Women who own small businesses are not typically the primary earners in their households.

  • Truth: 62% of women business owners rely on their income as the primary source of household income.

Myth: Obtaining finances is equally challenging for men- and women-owned businesses.

  • Truth: The lending gap for women is widening, with women business owners receiving nearly 50% less than their male counterparts.

Now, nearly 20 years later as Noetic Consultants Founder and CEO, I am most proud of having provided jobs for many people and shaping many notable brands and marketers through the years. I am also proud to have helped many marketers expand their networks by introducing them to others in their field, as it can be lonely in the game, especially as you rise through the ranks. I am proud to lead a company that is a certified women-owned business with an all-female team. And finally, I am proud to be counted amongst female leaders who are making a positive impact in business, communities, and families.

If you are part of this community, I would love to hear YOUR story. Thank you for inspiring me to keep my business going and growing.



Nancie McDonnell Ruder

Owner, Noetic Consulting, LLC; Marketing Consultant: Author, Researcher, Strategist, Trainer