Last month, American Express OPEN and the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) announced the 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Businesses in North America. We’re proud to work with WPO, a valued OPEN Women’s Business Initiative partner, on this program, as it not only identifies and highlights the achievements of the Top 50 women-owned and led businesses, but also gives us an opportunity to share what these women feel most contributed to their companies’ growth.
A survey was conducted among 46 of the 50 that revealed some key business insights, including what they consider to be factors for success:
- “Hiring the right people” – 78 percent said this was most important contributors to their companies’ growth.
- Being committed to growth – 71percent said their goal from the very beginning of their leadership of the company was to build a large or fast-growing company.
- Being able to motivate employees was cited by 64 percent as the most important characteristic for being a successful woman business owner.
- Adapting to a changing environment, with 64 percent citing a strategy of entering new markets to succeed in the down economy.
Among business challenges these women face, a little over half cited lower sales among existing customers; others struggle with attracting highly skilled employees and gaining access to markets. Many of those owners surveyed plan to meet these challenges by investing in new organizational capabilities and by focusing increased attention on their customers, and, overall, there was amazing optimism: nearly all (96 percent) plan to hire additional employees this year.
The 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Businesses are drawn from a list of eligible businesses – privately held, woman-owned/led companies in the U.S. or Canada that have reached revenue of at least $500,000 by the first week of 2005 and $2 million in 2009. They are then ranked according to a sales growth formula that combines percentage and absolute growth.
In the U.S., there are 10 million women-owned businesses, collectively employing over 13 million people and generating nearly $2 trillion in annual sales. The Top-50 generated a combined $2.3 billion in gross revenues in 2009. Number one among them was Argent Associates, Inc., a 12-year-old, supply-chain company based in New Jersey. President and CEO Beatriz Manetta has led the company to more than 12 times growth in gross revenue over 2 years, from $9,238,850 in 2007 to $115,000,000 in 2009. Number two is BrightStar, an Illinois-based home healthcare and medical staffing company, and the third-fastest growing company is Artech Information Systems of New Jersey.
The full list of 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned Businesses can be downloaded and viewed here. I want to congratulate them all and thank WPO for their work on this and other initiatives to provide support to women business owners. For more insights by and for women business owners, visit www.openforum.com/women. For more information on WPO, please visit http://www.womenpresidentsorg.com.
If you’re a women business owner who has a story that may inspire other women entrepreneurs, please email me at michelle @ openforum.com.