Female business owners are increasingly more educated and more willing to take risks, according to a newly released survey.

Forty percent of the women business owners polled have a post-graduate education, compared with only 9 percent of the entire female workforce. Sixty percent of them said they would use up to 95 percent of their personal savings or put up their homes as collateral for a loan to start or expand their business.

The survey, conducted by accounting firm RSM McGladrey, the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, the University of Chicago and the Committee of 200, polled 650 female business owners, including owners of 609 small businesses with between one and 100 employees.

Many of the business owners are able to maintain both a business and family life. Sixty-eight percent of the female business owners polled are married, which is higher than the national average of 53 percent for working women, and 67 percent have children.

The businesses proved to have longevity. More than 60 percent of the women-owned businesses surveyed had been in operation for at least six years, which is higher than the 40 percent reported for surveys of all businesses.

The most successful businesses started when the women were younger. Almost 40 percent of the women with businesses in the highest revenue category started their businesses when they were between 20 and 29. However, more than 40 percent of the women who have businesses in the smallest revenue category started their businesses after the age of 40.

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