2004 Fall/Winter Volume No. 4

Daughters of Portable Sanitation

Carol Sinks-Farmer, Customer Service
PolyJohn Enterprises

Daughters of Portable Sanitation

Today, daughters are making their own mark in family businesses around the world.

In the old days, it was generally assumed that the eldest son would take over the family business. Today, daughters are making their own mark in family businesses around the world. The portable sanitation business should be no exception. A recent study found that, from productivity to leadership and involvement, women in U.S. family-owned businesses are having an enormous favorable impact.

According to a report released last summer—Women in Family-Owned Businesses, sponsored by MassMutual Financial Group and Babson College—woman-owned family businesses are a rapidly growing segment of the U.S. economy. This may be because of the study’s other findings, including: woman-owned family businesses are 1.7 times more productive than those run by men. They tend to keep the family working together with 40% lower family attrition. And, they are more likely to be a "good corporate citizen" giving more of their wealth back to the community and supporting educational causes.

The research, directed and supported by the Loyola University Chicago Family Business Center, the Cox Family Enterprise Center at Kennesaw State University, and Babson College, surveyed a broad section of American family-owned businesses, over 38,000 in all. It found that woman-owned family businesses are truly big business in the U.S., with average annual revenues of $26.9 million in 2002 and with some reporting annual sales as high as $1 billion. Most woman-owned family firms are in the second generation of operation. They are primarily active in the same industries as male-owned firms: manufacturing, wholesale, retail, service and construction.

Other highlights of the study showed that woman-owned family businesses:
• Have increased by 37% in the last five years, to 15.6% across the U.S.
• Are twice as likely to employ women family members full-time and
are three times as likely to employ more than one female family member full-time.
• Anticipate a positive future for their companies (by a two-to-one ratio among respondents), despite a continued poor economy.
• Tend to be more fiscally conservative. More female-owned family businesses carry less or no debt than male-owned firms.

Portable sanitation is a business that requires developing and maintaining relationships, creating clean, fragrant and sanitary environments, as well as tracking details and maintaining schedules. There is nothing to stop daughters from succeeding in this business as well as sons.

Is the Glass Ceiling Broken?

What do the CEOs of Hewlett Packard, Lucent Technologies, and Xerox have in common? They all happen to be women.

Ever since the 60’s women have been successfully climbing corporate ladders around the country. They have broken through the glass ceilings and old boys networks to prove themselves as capable leaders in every aspect of business and society.

Young women are seeing high-profile role models in business and preparing themselves to follow in their footsteps. Today women account for half of all college-level business graduates, up from 34% in 1980.

Since gender is slowly becoming a non-issue in the choices parents make for succession in family businesses, ambition, talent, and drive become more important deciding factors. According to USA TODAY, a yet-to-be released study of small business owners shows 25% are considering daughters, rather than sons, as their successors. This is up 10% from only four years ago.

If you are a woman looking to prepare yourself for a role in the family business, I would recommend getting involved in a woman’s business organization such as the American Business Woman’s Association (ABWA). I have personally found many role models and colleagues through my own membership as well as opportunities to improve business knowledge and develop leadership skills. From the very first meeting I attended 22 years ago at the suggestion of a friend, I have found the ABWA to be a great place to meet new friends, network, and learn.

Each meeting sponsors a professional business speaker on topics such as management, selling, leadership, negotiating skills, and time management. I recently attended the ABWA National Convention in Richmond, VA and was able to take MBA classes from the University of Kansas while attending. You can learn more about the organization at www.abwahq.org.

Other organizations in which you might be interested include the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and Business and Professional Women (BPW). And, of course we also recommend becoming active in the Portable Sanitation Association International (PSAI).

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