When Theresa Daytner started her construction business, she probably never imagined the President of the United States would give her a shout-out in a speech. You know, the speech where the Presidential Seal crashed off the podium last week? So, it’s memorable for two reasons.
President Obama highlighted Theresa’s business during Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women’s Summit in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 5. The summit honored this year’s 10 Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs. Theresa was named to that list along with fellow Make Mine a Million $ Business winners Lean Brown and Elizabeth Perelstein. The president highlighted Theresa’s business growth. In three years, her business revenues grew from $100,000 to more than $3 million. But in the beginning it wasn’t so easy.
Theresa’s vision is what led her to success. She cultivated relationships within Count Me In where she found the support of other women experiencing similar life challenges. How would she grow her business? How would she support her family? Was her vision too big? Not big enough? She thought about where she wanted to be one or two years. What did she want? When she joined Count Me In four years ago, her initial revenue goal was $10 million. She’s already hit $17 million in 2010.
“Entrepreneurs are the most powerful force in our economy, and women are leading the way,” said Susan Sobbott,
President of American Express OPEN. “Their businesses mean BIG business, and these women are role models for aspiring entrepreneurs in businesses big and small.”
Her success is due, in part, to the increase of Federal contracting dollars going to small businesses, of which she has won numerous projects. According to American Express OPEN’s OPEN Book, the government spends more than $400 billion per year on goods and services, 23 percent of which is required to be targeted to small businesses. Five percent of all government contracts are set aside for women entrepreneurs, but less than 4 percent are utilized.
Last week, the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 restored equality among all of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) small business contracting programs. As a piece of that, the Women’s Procurement Program, which is in place so businesses like Theresa’s have a fair shake at contracts, will be considered equal to any other small business-contracting program. With this ruling, more women are poised to go from micro to millions, stimulate job growth, and fuel the economy. Theresa has been successful in landing these contracts as 50 percent of her business’s workload comes from the government.
Theresa has been successful because she’s persistent and works hard. She develops relationships. But her vision from the beginning was always to work in the Federal sector. You have to be tenacious to get what you want. What do you want?
If you think you have what it takes to make your business a million, join us in San Francisco Nov. 7-9 for the Make Mine a Million $ Business conference to take your business to the next level. American Express cardholders can register for free using code AMEX. See you there!
Nell Merlino is the Founder and President of Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, the leading national not-for-profit provider of resources for women to grow their micro businesses into million $ enterprises. She is the creative force behind Take Our Daughters to Work Day and the author of “Stepping Out of Line: Lessons for Women Who Want It Their Way in Life, in Love, and at Work,” from Broadway Books, which is available from Amazon.com.