Successful women entrepreneurs are not only matching their male counterparts – in several ways, they’re outperforming them.
That’s according to the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report, for which Scorpio Partnership consultancy surveyed about 2,600 high and “ultra-high” net worth entrepreneurs from 18 countries.
The researchers found that almost 90% of women entrepreneurs expected their companies’ gross profits to increase or remain stable in the next year. More specifically, 61% expected profits to rise, compared to an average of 58% among all entrepreneurs.
“They are more ambitious and have been more successful than their male counterparts,” Sofia Merlo, co-CEO of BNP Paribas Wealth Management, says of the women entrepreneurs surveyed.
To illustrate that “more successful” comment, she points to the report’s revenue data. Companies helmed by women entrepreneurs had 13% higher revenues than those run by men, and finished 9% above the average for all entrepreneurs surveyed.
Here’s what else the report found, from generational differences (millennial women are faring especially well) to geographic, sector and family ones.
The rise of women ‘millennipreneurs’
The survey selected participants based solely on their personal wealth and business revenues. About a third of the respondents were women, and of those, 37% were millennials and 24% were baby boomers.
This suggests that in two generations, the number of successful women entrepreneurs has increased significantly, according to the report.
While women entrepreneurs were generally ambitious about their profits (remember the 61% who expected them to rise), millennial women were especially so: roughly three quarters anticipated an increase over the next 12 months, and they expected a profit margin of 35% for 2015, compared to the average of 31%.
Millennial women also reported even higher revenues than their already-above-average gender group for the coming year: for women, revenues were 9% above the overall average, and for women “millennipreneurs,” it was 22%.
Merlo says this data echoes the report’s section on so-called “millennipreneurs”—which found that 20 to 34 year olds are starting more companies, managing bigger staffs, and targeting higher profits than their baby boomer predecessors.
“The report is pointing out this ‘millennipreneur’ phenomenon, which is certainly shared evenly between men and women,” Merlo says. “The younger generation is more ambitious, and going faster and in a different manner than the boomers.”
Sectors, success and first-generation entrepreneurs
According to the report, women entrepreneurs are making most of their money in three sectors: retail; professional services such as consulting, accounting or law; and fashion. (For comparison, men’s top three were professional services, retail and technology.)
The survey also asked women which industry they would pick to start a business in today. The top answers, tied for first, were e-commerce, travel, hospitality and leisure.
Of the women surveyed, more than a third were first-generation entrepreneurs—but just 21% of millennial women were. For boomer women it was almost half, which mirrors the report’s other findings on millennial versus boomer entrepreneurs.
When it came to measuring success, more than a third of the women entrepreneurs said they defined it as profiting on their initial investment. Twelve percent said it meant transferring their business to the next generation, and almost as many described it as making a social impact.
Marlo says that last point is especially significant. “People are looking at how their investments are having an impact on society,” she adds. “That’s something we’re seeing globally in the wealth management sector, and it’s something we will see more and more.”
With the survey spread across 18 countries, researchers were also able to spot geographic differences among women entrepreneurs.
Poland came out ahead. Fifty-four percent of its survey respondents were women—which means they were more than half of the high and ultra-high net worth entrepreneurs identified there. In Spain it was 44%, and in China 43. The U.S. did not make the top six.
These numbers are all increases over last year’s data, according to the report. The numbers went up in countries with the lowest number of women respondents, too, suggesting that overall, women entrepreneurs are on the rise.
Among the millennial entrepreneurs surveyed, women were even more prevalent. Poland was again on top: 89% of its “millennipreneurs” were women. The US and China tied for second, with 51% millennial women respondents, and in Spain it was an even half.
While those numbers indicate that a more even gender balance among successful entrepreneurs is coming, Merlo still sees room for improvement.
“When we look at the findings, we could say that things are good,” she says. “But we are not sufficiently celebrating the women entrepreneurs’ success. That’s something you’re not seeing a lot.”