Business Planning by Gender

Truth is I’m glad to be corrected on this one. Mommy CEO Sabrina Parsons does the correcting with Women, Business, and The Plan over at the bplans.com blog. In my post last week Is Business Planning Gender Specific? I thought that this was a rhetorical question, and I went on to muse about why sales of the leading business plan software would seem skewed toward men.

Sabrina catches me at my own game (in past posts, that is) as she points out that all we really know is that men seem to fill out registration data more frequently than women. She adds that of course women plan their businesses as well as, and as often, as men, whether or not they use our software.

I have to disagree. I think we are dealing with skewed data. The SBA released a report in Aug of 2006 stating that women are starting businesses at twice the rate of men (thanks to Penelope Trunk for finding this information). So why is our survey data so skewed towards men?

I think this is a case where you need to look at how Palo Alto Software got the results it did, and why that may be. We emailed a survey to a group of our customers. More than 70% of the respondents were male. Does that mean that 70% of our customers are male? No. I think it means that men are that much more likely to fill out a complete a survey.

In my defense, my original post, despite the rhetorical title, wasn’t really saying that women do less business planning than men, only that they seemed less inclinded to use the software. Like Sabrina, I also included data showing that women in this country started as many, or more, companies as did men.

Regarding the business planning, whether women or men are different, she makes her point very eloquently in her How can you possibly manage without planning?

How can I possibly think I can do a good job managing Palo Alto Software, if I don’t create a forecast and a budget for the next year? (I can’t)!!! By creating the forecast and budgeting expenses I can easily work with our controller month by month to see where we stand financially. Did we sell as much as we predicted? Maybe we sold more or less? Where did we fall in our expenses? Did we spend more or less? Month by month, now that I have a plan, I will be able to assess the situation and make any adjustments necessary. I can then communicate this to my team of managers and make sure they know where they stand with their budgets.

This seems like one of those posts where people will say "DUH"… but you would be surprised at how many businesses we hear from that DO NOT HAVE A PLAN. They say they are too busy running their company to take time to plan. WHAT?!?

She is, after all, "Mommy CEO," and she’s also very big on planning. On that we completely agree.

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