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Fast Growth Strategies to Build Your Company

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Did you know? Only 3% of all women-owned businesses generate $1 million plus in annual revenues. And, these million-plus firms are growing faster than the smaller women-owned firms.

A study conducted by the Center for Women’s Business Research explored the business practices and characteristics of million-dollar women-owned businesses. Among other strategies, women owners of million-dollar businesses are more likely to:
  • Apply sophisticated management practices, especially the use of financial reports to manage cash flow and expenses.

  • Use lawyers, accountants, consultants, advisory boards and boards of directors.

  • Align their company with complementary businesses through strategic alliances.

  • Take advantage of multiple funding sources, including vendor credit, credit card loans, venture capital and angel investing, bank loans, and other financial strategies.

  • Secure contracts with large corporations and government as primary clients.

  • Innovate continuously and expand both domestically and internationally.

  • Have a professional, regularly updated website.

  • Engage in e-commerce and electronic marketing.

  • Become certified as a woman-owned business.

  • Own businesses in the industries of wholesale trade, construction, manufacturing, transportation, communications, or public utilities.
In addition to these strategies, a variety of traits are characteristic of successful women business owners.

Characteristics of Fast-Growth Women Leaders

As the president and founder of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), which serves million-dollar business owners, I have encountered many women using these aforementioned strategies. I even contacted the WPO Platinum Group — members with revenues of $10 million and above — and asked each woman what business strategies accounted for the success of her company. Invariably they responded with the same strategies described above.

Through my experience with accomplished women business owners, I have observed that those who are most successful share some common personal characteristics. These women are take-charge types who not only take responsibility for themselves but for others. Driven and confident, million-dollar business owners take advantage of professional advisors and reach out to others for information. They tend to participate in peer advisory groups in order to connect with other entrepreneurs and get tips for business growth.

Peer advisory groups are unique because they provide unrestricted insight and unbiased perspectives on a participant’s business. Such a group should contain members from non-competing industries, and everyone must be open and willing to share information about finances and other sensitive issues. Confidentiality is essential. Peers must feel safe about sharing trade secrets. The most effective learning experiences come about as a result of bonding within the peer advisory group.

Owners of high-growth companies have a greater intensity of commitment to their companies than the owners of women-owned businesses with low growth. They put in long hours, are self-confident, and take risks. In a recent WPO survey, we found that many of our members are considering both domestic and international expansion. Half of our members plan to add offices domestically and 66% plan to add international locations.

These women “dream big” — they see themselves succeeding financially, managing large staffs, and running businesses that have multiple branches and locations or that are international in scope. They are women with 100 ideas a minute who do not hesitate to implement the best of the ideas they dream up. If these characteristics describe you, you may be a natural leader, destined to join the ranks of the world’s most powerful businesswomen.

About the Author

Dr. Marsha Firestone is founder and president of the Women Presidents' Organization for women whose businesses annually gross over two million dollars. The Women Presidents' Organization is currently operating 71 chapters nationwide and in Canada. Dr. Firestone was previously Vice President of Women Incorporated and of Training and Counseling at the American Woman's Economic Development Corporation (AWED). Prior to her involvement in women's economic development, she oversaw all operations and established educational direction as president of a for-profit educational institution. Her career also includes positions as National Executive Director of the Women's American ORT, a volunteer organization with a membership of over 150,000; a full-time faculty member of the American Management Association Competency-Based Management Development Program; and a faculty member at the City University of New York and Adelphi University.
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