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Survival Of Nearly 1,000 Women-Owned Businesses In Colorado Threatened By Pandemic

(CBS4) - A recent survey of nearly 1,000 women business owners in Colorado found the Centennial State is not immune to the national "she-cession" created by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the survey, administered by Energize Colorado, almost all respondents - 94% - reported a decrease in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 17% saying the revenue loss was between 80 to 100%.

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The front page of the Energize Colorado survey. (credit: Energize Colorado)

Further, 56% said their business will only be able to survive for another one to three months if pandemic circumstances don't change, and 80% could only stay open for six more months under current conditions.

Kate Hyatt with Energize Colorado helped administer that survey.

"We did confirm that the number one challenge for the business owners was funding to keep their businesses afloat," Hyatt told CBS4. "I think we only had maybe 3% of our respondents say that their revenue was flat."

Hyatt says the findings align with national surveys that discovered the pandemic's creation of a "she-cession."

A recent Women in the Workplace study found one in four women are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce due to COVID-19.

"I find that to be alarming, and certainly a challenge, because, at the same time, we are looking to attract retain and develop more women in our workforce, and it does appear that there could potentially be less women in in the candidate pool," Hyatt said.

In the Energize Colorado survey, 50% of respondents said that, as women, they believe they have to work harder at balancing work and family.

Jessica Fuentes, owner of the Kid Spot in Louisville, feels that struggle.

Operating a hands-on pediatric therapy clinic, Fuentes says if it weren't for federal paycheck protection and CARES Act assistance, she may not have been able to stay open under the pandemic's restrictions.

Jessica Fuentes, a pediatric physical therapist, helps 4-year-old Sophie with a balancing exercise at her clinic in Louisville. (credit: Kati Weis, CBS4)

"So initially, when we had the stay at home orders, only about 60% of our clients stayed with us for tele-health, and I think there was 40% that were like, 'yikes this is hard,'" Fuentes said. "So then by main a main June, we were back up to the 75% mark of clients, but we've definitely not been able to function in our fullest capacity."

It's not just her client base. Fuentes also says a year after the pandemic hit, six of her 15 staff members are still working exclusively from home.

"So we've had women who have had to pull back, they worked 40 hours and now they're working 28 hours, or therapists who have kind of been 28 or 20 hours, now staying home fully with their children," Fuentes said. "So, it's definitely been a challenge."

However, the Energize Colorado survey found some silver linings: 18% of respondents said they now have improved community and customer relations as a result of the pandemic.

Fuentes tells CBS4 she also found a bright side, saying the pandemic has made her stronger, as a mom and a business owner.

"I think women we're good at multitasking, but it makes you even better at it, because you're like, 'okay, online school 8:10, okay, I can take my first client at 8:30, he will be settled, okay, my next client can be at 10:15, let me check in on Slack,'" Fuentes said. "It's just that flexibility piece, and planning, that takes so much work."

To see the full survey results, click here.

Energize Colorado also has several resources to assist working women. Follow this link, and click "get help" at the top of the page to see what resources are available.

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