Outlook positive among female business owners in Utah, nation

Posted at 10:14 PM, Apr 02, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- Women across the country are eager to get down to business, according to a new survey. The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses report found that women are more optimistic in today’s work environment than in past years.

“My outlook is extremely positive because of certain indicators,” said Pam Olson, owner of the Native Flower Co. in Salt Lake City.

Within the confines of a 500 sq. foot space in Sugar House, Olson has figured out a way to keep growing.

“It’s not playing with flowers all day like a lot of people that get into it think it is,” Olson said. “It’s hard work. And you have all the challenges of any other business.”

She opened her flower shop almost ten years ago inside a house, and has since survived changing storefronts and a recession to run a thriving business.

“Wedding bookings are already up at least 25 percent,” Olson said. “So, this time last year I only had maybe a couple in May and a couple in June. Both months are booked.”

Her workload and outlook for the future seem to be on par with national views.

According to the survey from the National Association of Women business Owners, of the approximate 600 who responded, they found women were more optimistic about their economic outlook today, up 12 percent over 2013.

“The climate for starting a business here in Utah is very, very good,” said Asenath Horton, who helps run the Salt Lake chapter of the association.

The women surveyed said their biggest challenges in business are obstacles created by the economy, healthcare costs and business taxes. However, Horton believes there is more support in today’s business climate to overcome those things.

“It’s not hard to get your company set up, to get your account set up, to get your social media, to get everything running to help you be able to get your message out to the crowds,” Horton said.

She acknowledges, though, that there are still challenges, as the survey shows 9 out of 10 women are worried about how they’re going to gain customers quickly. Census data from 2007 also shows the percentage of women business owners in Utah is slightly less than the national average.

But none of that is slowing down business for women like Lavanya Mahate.

“I jumped off the cliff there from a very secure 9 to 5 corporate job, to kind of starting a restaurant on my own,” said Mahate, who opened an Indian restaurant in Salt Lake City in 2013.

Nearly two years later, she opened the second location of her restaurant, Saffron Valley, in South Jordan.

“It was definitely a good risk that I took, and looking back I feel it was the best thing I ever did,” Mahate said.

It was a move that seemed to be in keeping with the demand from customers, as well as the trend of women nationwide.