Discover more in the Women in Business series

Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs' Business, Goals and Journey

In this exclusive OPEN series, we look at the contribution, issues and successes of women in small business.
July 17, 2012

This article is the first part of “Celebrating Women Business Owners,” a four-week series highlighting the achievements of women business owners.

As our economy changes, entrepreneurial women are emerging as leaders of industry, bringing significant, fresh ideas to the marketplace. American Express OPEN is going to tell you their stories, reveal their challenges and inspire you with their successes. As part of our continuing effort to understand womens’ impact, we commissioned our second annual study: The State of Women-Owned Businesses. Starting today and continuing through the coming weeks, we will bring these findings to life through a series of infographics designed to ignite pride and conversation within the community.

As small-business advocates we set out to discover what was happening among women entrepreneurs and share it with all business owners and advocates. We found that growth by women-owned businesses is surging at a pace faster than that of any other group—over the past 15 years, 1.5 times greater than their other business counterparts. That’s a tremendous accomplishment, and women have reason to celebrate.

Other Side of the Story

But we also learned that’s just half the story. As captured in the infographic below, our study also found that while women are starting and growing new and innovative ventures in droves, many experience growth pains at the 5-to-9 employee and $250,000-to-$499,999 levels. From 1997 to 2002 and from 2007 to 2012, the overall growth rates of women-owned businesses dip at these employee and revenue points. In addition, even though 29 percent of businesses are women-owned, overall those businesses contribute only 4 percent to revenue and 6 percent to employment in the U.S. So while there is much success and progress to be proud of, there is still more we can all do to support today’s women business owners.

Statistics like this are just the start of a conversation that I invite you to be a part of. For the next several weeks, OPEN will be encouraging a dialogue through the use of infographics, leadership spotlights on select owners and articles that celebrate and encourage women in the small-business world. OPEN celebrates and wants to help you—female entrepreneurs and fans of female entrepreneurs everywhere—to reach even greater heights. This conversation is just the beginning and the implications are profound: You as a woman entrepreneur have the ability to turn our economy around.

Here’s what we’ll be covering in the coming weeks:

Growth. We’ll talk about what specifically is driving growth for women, sector by sector. Where and in what kinds of businesses are entrepreneurial women investing their time and energy? This discussion on "The Magnitude of the Movement" will reveal how women-owned businesses have become a diverse and formidable force in our economy.

Economic impact. We’ll explore the "Economic Impact of Women-Owned Business." How much are women boosting the economy? How much job creation is coming from the hard work and insight of female entrepreneurs? Overall the answers are “a lot” and “a lot,” but what might surprise you is just how aggressive and dramatic the growth has been.

Challenges. We’ll focus on the challenges that women are facing along the entrepreneurial journey. Women are opening and building successful businesses, but they’re not keeping pace with their male counterparts when it comes to growing their ventures. This is a “growth wall” and we’ve found many women are hitting it. We’ll share insights from entrepreneurs on both sides—those whose growth has stalled and those who’ve broken through. With this feature, we hope to help you navigate and conquer this challenge.

Join the Conversation

Here's how you can be a part of this important conversation:

  • Re-post this infographic (right click anywhere on the image below to e-mail or save it to your computer)
  • Forward this article to a friend or colleague (you can use the OPEN Forum e-mail share tool at the top or bottom of this page)
  • Leave a comment below to share with us what this information means to you
  • Share and/or comment on Twitter, Facebook or your own blog about how you are #PoweringTomorrow in your community and within your business (Hint: Use this hash tag #PoweringTomorrow so we can all be on the same page!) As a start, complete the following sentence:

“I am #PoweringTomorrow by ____________.”

This is your space and your conversation. We want it to be thought-provoking and useful, and ultimately help you push through the challenges of the entrepreneurial journey.

Please leave a comment below regarding your business, your goals and your journey. And look for more on women-owned businesses in the coming weeks.

Read the 2012 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report that inspired this dialogue. 

Allison Silver is Vice President of Brand, Advertising & Advocacy for American Express OPEN, a role in which her responsibilities include oversight of  “OPEN Women’s Business Initiative" and “Victory in Procurement,” as well as other programs designed to advance OPEN’s mission of helping small business do more business.