Women entrepreneurs have a voracious appetite for growth

Women have grown and are continuing to grow substantial businesses that have a significant impact on the nation’s economy. According to a new survey by the Women Presidents’ Organization, staffing, compensation and revenue are rising — and that’s good news for women challenged with managing expanding businesses.

The annual WPO Business Outlook survey focuses on attitudes regarding business challenges and opportunities, as well as forecasted outcomes of top women-owned and led businesses around the world.

A role in the economy

Women-owned/led companies play a vital role in boosting the economy and enhancing job growth. Ten years ago 7 percent of WPO member businesses had revenues of $10 million. Today 25 percent of the memberships’ revenue is at $10 million or more

With more women bringing their businesses to scale, perceptions have changed that female founders only run small “cookies and crafts” businesses out of their living rooms.

Women business owners also have an outsized impact on the middle market, according to the latest Middle Market Power Index released by American Express Global Corporate Payments and Dun & Bradstreet.

That research indicates women-owned/led firms account for about 13 percent of middle-market firms. They were responsible for hiring 25 percent of workers and generating 25 percent of total revenues for all women-owned firms.

They’re growing at a faster rate, too. While the number of middle-market firms grew by 4 percent between 2008 and 2014, women-owned/led firms increased by 24 percent.

Super-sized staffing

A whopping 63 percent of WPO survey respondents said they plan to increase the number of employees this year:

  • 41.5 percent plan to increase by at least 5 percent.
  • 15.5 percent plan a 10 percent increase.
  • 6 percent plan to increase as much as 20 percent.

WPO members also generate average annual revenue of $13.2 million, with an average of 92 employees.

Rising revenue

B2B sales for women-owned companies account for 35.9 percent, or $432 billion, of receipts. When combined with selling to government entities, women-owned/led businesses generate $754 billion in B2B receipts, out of a total $1.2 trillion.

Compensation on the uptick

Despite slightly less optimism about the economy, respondents are sweetening their salaries. The survey found they are planning to give themselves well-deserved raises this year:

  • 26.9 percent plan a salary increase up to 9 percent.
  • 16.2 percent plan a 10 to 20 percent increase.
  • 4.8 percent will increase paychecks by more than 21 percent.

They also plan to share the wealth; 64.8 percent anticipate increasing their employees’ salaries 3 to 10 percent.

It’s lonely at the top

Peer learning is a vital tool to help successful female entrepreneurs accelerate their growth trajectory.

Since joining the WPO, 66.7 percent of entrepreneurs said their businesses have grown. Of these, 34.7 percent said their businesses have grown 5 to 15 percent, while 17.9 percent have grown 16 to 25 percent.

At the same time, relationships gained through WPO membership have proved fruitful — 74 percent say they have done business with each other.


Marsha Firestone, Ph.D. is the president and founder of the Women Presidents’ Organization, which began in 1997 as a peer advisory organization for women who own and lead multimillion-dollar businesses. Marsha is also a recognized expert in entrepreneurship and author of “The Busy Woman’s Guide to Successful Self-Employment.”