Entrepreneurship – Women take over

SME’s are the backbone of German economy. 99.7% of all companies in Germany are SME’s and an astonishing 95% of all companies are family-run which account to almost half the GDP. Surprisingly, in this area women are not that far behind as almost one third of SME’s are led by women. And this number is ascending according to BGA the German Association for Female Entrepreneurs. In the study “Nachfolge ist weiblich” (Succession is Female) published in 2008 Germany’s only nationwide information and service center for women entrepreneurs portrayed 16 women, one each per federal state, who took over a business and revealed the Factors of their success:

1. Cooperative Leadership: All of the portrayed women exercise this principle of team orientation which increases motivation.

2. No fear of areas dominated by men: Almost all of the portrayed women had businesses in sectors as technology, automobile and crafts.

3. Financial advantage compared to start-ups: By experience credits are guaranteed easier due to existing relationships between companies and banks. Apart from that most of the women introduced a change in business models, adapted to the current needs of the market place and therefore, increased the future prospects for their companies.

4. Work-Life Balance: In need of flexible business processes that make it possible to combine a demanding career and family entrepreneur women use their leadership positions to form new working models. Not only does this strengthen the general position of women in business, but also acts as a role model for society.


The women portrayed in this study were between 26 and 55 years old, it seems that experience doesn’t matter and leadership can be learned as many family-run companies are handed over due to sudden death or illness. Although most entrepreneurs would prefer a family-internal succession, less than half of all companies are handed over within the family. Numbers show that increasingly the trend is buy-ins or buy-outs, succession by externals or employees. Until 2014 an estimated 110,000 companies will change owners. A good prospect for our generation if you ask me.

This topic was quite interesting to me from two perspectives: First, I think running an own business is a good way for women to by-pass the “glass ceiling”, prove their ability and self-actualize. Secondly, my parents own a company themselves: Schleicher Metallbau Gestaltung which is a medium-sized trade company for bending service and steel constructions.  Until recently, I have always been reluctant to think about taking over the company since I wanted to follow my own way and try out different things before tying myself to such a huge responsibility, company and location. However, I was thinking about it again and maybe it actually IS an option. Who knows what happens 10 years from now?


7 Responses to “Entrepreneurship – Women take over”
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  2. katjo2010 says:

    Thanks for this great perspective! This is a very interesting post!
    And it is good to know, that women have a better standing in SMEs, especially family-led companies.
    I can only agree, that running one’s own business is a great way to by-pass the “glass ceiling”, since you have much freedom as your own boss.
    Similar to you, my uncle currently runs and owns the company my grandparents founded 16 years ago. If it shall be handed over within the family, I would be the one running it next, which originally was not an option to me. But like you, I started to think about again recently and it might be an option.

  3. thob84 says:

    Thank you for the new perspective! It makes sense to look at the actual “backbone” of the German economy for a change. You mentioned that women “running an own business is a good way for women to by-pass the “glass ceiling”, prove their ability and self-actualize.”

    Unfortunately, statistics show that women starting their own business earn about 34% less than man. That is even higher than the gender wage gap of 20% amoung employees.In addition, they start smaller businesses with fewer or no employess and have poorer access to credits than man do.

    So, hopefully in the context of company succession they will be able to compensate this position.

  4. diiasg says:

    Great post and very good commentary to follow.

    I feel like womens standing in SME’s is legitimate and makes sense. My question remains where is the catch with women in bigger companies.

    Is it the male psychology or is it an industry belief that their best shot is with a male? I guess the better question is where the focus of hiring teams is/

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