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Beyond the Bucks

Growth strategies of successful women entrepreneurs

This banner image is of a businesswomen at a table surrounded by three employees.

More women are starting businesses today than ever. In fact, the number of women-owned businesses grew 58% between 2007 and 2018 — nearly five times faster than the national average — and the trend continues. Additionally, in 2018 the women-owned businesses that had over $1 million in revenue increased revenues 46% over the past 11 years in comparison to 12% growth for all U.S. businesses. While these firms comprise only 1.7% of all women-owned businesses, they now account for 68% of total employment and 69% of revenue generated by all women-owned businesses. 1 These growth rates are reasons to celebrate the many new women-led businesses that exist today. However, this growth has come with struggles. Women entrepreneurs have encountered barriers not typically faced by male counterparts and, therefore, overall revenue and employment results produced by women entrepreneurs are lower. 2 The good news is these barriers haven’t stopped these women. Instead, they have developed strategies to grow their businesses and succeed.

The research presented in this report offers novel findings on the impediments women faced in the post startup, also known as the “growth stage,” of entrepreneurship. At the same time, we provide insights as to how they were able to accomplish significant growth in spite of the barriers they faced. What we learned is that all of the women were able to grow their businesses through grit, resilience and leadership excellence. We also found that the women featured in this research shared common barriers and faced similar challenges in pursuit of building large, sustainable businesses. We first report the barriers through their quotes and examples, and then provide actionable strategies so that all entrepreneurs can learn from this exclusive group of industry-leading women business owners.

We hope this white paper will provide women’s entrepreneurship advocates with a shared understanding of how women are able to successfully grow their businesses as well as areas where they are still challenged. Our goal is to help other women entrepreneurs identify opportunities for similar accelerated growth as we celebrate and encourage the creation of robust, industry-leading, women-owned businesses.

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