Could 2013 be the year of the woman entrepreneur?

Women certainly seem to think so. According to a survey by and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), 66 percent of women business owners are more optimistic this year than they were in 2012. Only 10 percent feel less optimistic.

“This survey reveals that even in tough economic times, women entrepreneurs are willing to keep pushing ahead,” said Diane Tomb, NAWBO president and CEO, via email.

She added: “They have a realistic understanding that starting and growing a business is a demanding undertaking and are prepared for difficult times. They have lived through the recent economic downturn and are seeing the economic environment improving.”

This optimism appears to spread beyond U.S. borders. Interestingly, for the first time in 13 years, women have created businesses at a greater rate than men in three economies: Ghana, Nigeria, and Thailand, according to a Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) study of 59 economies. In Brazil, Ecuador, Uganda, and Switzerland, the rate of business creation by gender is equal. In the U.S., men created more businesses than women. 

Looking Ahead

For the American women business owners surveyed by NAWBO, 85 percent predict that more women will start their own businesses in 2013, echoing the GEM survey. Of those already in business, 81 percent are optimistic about their business’ overall performance in 2013.

In 2013, 73 percent of the NAWBO members surveyed say they plan to invest more in marketing. The three items most valuable to the company’s bottom line in this vein, according to those surveyed, are website design and maintenance (cited by 87 percent), social media marketing and SEO (75 percent), and email marketing (66 percent).

“Utilizing these marketing tools increases visibility in a cost-efficient manner, which is always important to small business owners,” Lutes said.

The top area concern for women entrepreneurs is the state of the economy, followed closely by business tax issues.

“Small businesses’ biggest concerns are that they’re being over-regulated, and the tax burden on them,” said Washington State Rep. Gary Alexander, to the Business Examiner in Tacoma, WA. “As a whole, they feel hard-pressed to comply with all of these regulations.”

Health insurance costs also remains a concern, as does access to a quality workforce.