The number of women-owned businesses is on the rise.
Four in 10 businesses in the U.S. are now majority-owned, operated and controlled by women, according to the latest State of Women-owned Businesses report from American Express.
That’s a total of 12.3 million companies — or 58 percent more than the number that existed just over a decade ago. In contrast, the number of businesses with majority-male or shared ownership grew 12 percent in that period.
Last year alone, 1,821 new women-owned businesses opened in the U.S. each day.
The shift marks a major step forward for women entrepreneurs across the country. However, there remains progress to be made. Women-owned businesses continue to lag behind in other metrics, employing just 8 percent of the private sector workforce and contributing 4.3 percent of total revenues.
Often, that means women business-owners can be the sole employee of their company and annual revenues can struggle to surpass $100,000.
So, how can women entrepreneurs make sure their company goes the extra mile and breaks through those boundaries? CNBC Make It spoke to successful women business owners to find out their advice.
Take a step-by-step approach
Bonnie Micheli and Tracy Roemer, co-founders of fitness studios Shred415
“It’s easy to become eager when working to accomplish or complete a goal. Entrepreneurs everywhere need to remember that opening a successful, small-business involves patience, time and requires you to step back to remember that you must tackle a piece of the goal one day at a time.”
Don’t sell yourself short
Haley Palmer, franchise owner of real-estate firm WIN Home Inspection
“Women have the tendency to sell themselves short, assuming that speaking positively about their achievements is bragging. Stating what you’re factually good at and the growth and success you’ve seen with your business isn’t bragging when it’s done appropriately. Be confident and comfortable disclosing your strengths and touting your success; don’t hide from it — respect will follow.”
Learn to embrace rejection
Zakieia Rouah, serial franchisee of Anytime Fitness in Morocco
“People can make you feel very small when starting to work on your dream of establishing yourself in business, especially in a male dominated business environment. Stay strong and confident don’t let them make you doubt yourself.
“When first attempts are rejected, don’t take it personally. Seek explanations for rejection and modify and resubmit your plan.”
Give back to get back
Kathy Neave, owner of decoration business Neave Decor
“The more present you are in the industry, the more people you will connect with. From entrepreneurs just starting out, to those who are established, soak up all of the advice you are given and respect those who have been around for a while.”
“Don’t forget to give back and give help to those who are looking for it. The more you can learn and the more you can be involved is essential to continually educate yourself.”
Learn from your team
Helen Robertson, owner of travel operator Expedia CruiseShipCentres
“You never need to feel like you have to be the smartest person in the room. Building a good team requires you to hire people that may know more in a certain subject than you do. Find individuals who have a diverse set of skills and experiences and feel free to rely on them for advice and responsibilities.”
Create a culture of solution seekers
Inger Ellen Nicolaisen, founder of international hair salon Nikita Hair
“Owning your own business can pose many challenges and perceived problems, but with every problem comes an opportunity for a solution. Applaud initiative and innovation and focus on the solutions — the end results will become much more obtainable and lead you on your continued path of sustained excellence.”
Keep the end goal in mind
Kati Buckland, franchise owner of cleaning business Chem-Dry
“I’m a big believer in keeping your goals present — write them down as a reminder. It’s so easy to get lost or distracted, considering all the hats you wear as a business owner. But with your goals right in front of you, you never lose sight of what you’re trying to achieve.”
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