The number of women starting their own businesses is rising, but businesses owned by women continue to differ in significant ways from those owned by men, according to a new report on entrepreneurship in Canada from TD Economics.

The most obvious difference is size because women are more likely to own small businesses with no more than four employees. Women-owned businesses also predominate in business category that are traditionally female-centered. Nine in 10 are in the services sector, compared with 70% of male-owned businesses.

While smaller than male-owned businesses, female-owned businesses are slightly more likely to have engaged in an innovation activity in the previous three years, according to TD Economics. Such innovation commonly takes the form of a new or significantly improved product or service.

Women business owners are less likely to be pursuing other strategies to grow their businesses and are less likely to be seeking financing than male business owners. This is most often because they don’t need financing rather than that they can’t find it.

One quarter of women entrepreneurs say they opted to work for themselves out of a desire for greater work-family balance, which may help explain the less-strong drive to grow their business. Self-employed women are more likely to work part-time: nearly 40% say they work fewer than 30 hours a week. But they are more likely (35%) than men (21%) to regularly do volunteer work.

The complete TD Economics report can be found here. Share your reactions and opinions with Step up and join the conversation.

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