Approximately 400 women leaders (including 10 amazing entrepreneurs, listed below) came together October 4-6th in Washington, D.C. for Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit. “Building a Legacy” was the theme, so I’m tailoring my thoughts today for the many women entrepreneurs who are building their legacies.
- Don’t underestimate your power as a role model and advocate. Women entrepreneurs (just by their sheer existence) are powerful role models. It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t until 1974 that a woman could even get a loan in her own name to start a business. And 35 years later, 40 percent of the nation’s businesses are owned by women.1 You have the opportunity to inspire women and girls everywhere to pursue an amazing career path in entrepreneurship.
- Create the company you want to work for – and tell the world about it! As an entrepreneur, you have built your own business model, and you can set an example for others to follow. Many women have started “mission-led” businesses and are creating the work environments that they find fulfilling. Let others know how your marriage of passion and profit – with a heavy dose of values – has an impact your employees, customers and community.
- Hire talented women (if you don’t already have a bunch)! A report by the White House Project examined 10 sectors across the country and found that women comprised, on average, only 16 percent of the top leadership positions.2 Yet, Fortune 500 companies with more women officers yielded higher returns on equity compared to those companies with fewer women leaders.3 And I’d bet on similar results among entrepreneurial businesses. Increased diversity in perspectives and leadership can produce increased returns.
- Play your full-fledged position as a leader in the business community. Fortune’s conference hosted an impressive array of corporate leaders – who I think could learn a lot from the energy, creativity, resourcefulness and innovation of their entrepreneurial sisters. Be loud and proud about your achievements.
From nominations collected over the summer, American Express OPEN invited the following 10 women entrepreneurs to join us at the Summit. Join me in congratulating our “Most Powerful Women”!
- Theresa Alfaro Daytner, President & CEO, Daytner Construction Group
- Leah Brown, President & CEO, A10 Clinical Solutions, Inc.
- Linda Chaput, Founder, Agile Mind
- Wendi Goldsmith, CEO, Bioengineering Group
- Desiree Gruber, CEO & Founder, Modelinia/Full Picture
- Alexa Hirschfeld, Founder, Paperless Post
- Dina Kaplan, Co-Founder & COO, Blip.tv
- Susan Koger, Co-Founder, ModCloth
- Mariam Naficy, Founder & CEO, Minted
- Elizabeth Perelstein, President, School Choice International Inc.
1 Center for Women’s Business Research, “Key Facts about Women-Owned Businesses” (2009).
2 The White House Project Report” “Benchmarking Women’s Leadership,’ 2009.3 Catalyst Inc., “The Bottom Line: Corporate Performance and Women’s Representation on Boards” (2007).