Many Successful Women-Owned Businesses are Growing “Under the Radar”

There’s a new report just out that kicks off 2013 with some great news: women-owned firms at the highest level of revenue achievement have been doing even better than we might have imagined. They’ve been growing in number right under our very noses. In fact, the number of women-owned firms with $10 million or more in revenue has increased by 57% over the past decade – a rate fully 47% faster than the growth of all $10M+ businesses, and nearly twice (+98%) the rate of growth of all women-owned firms.woman_icecliff copy

These startling new facts are from Growing Under the Radar: An Exploration of the Achievements of Million-Dollar Women-Owned Firms, a new report authored by Womenable and commissioned by American Express OPEN.

How could this have been happening, largely undetected, under our very noses? Well, the “million dollar bucket” is a diverse one – containing both relatively small $1 million privately-held firms and multi-billion dollar publicly traded corporations. And, since this population contains just 2% of women-owned firms and 5% of all firms, it’s the largest sales category published by the Census Bureau. Now, for the first time, Womenable was able to obtain previously unpublished data from our friends at the Economic Statistics Branch of the Census Bureau (mwah!) – and the information is gratifying:

  • Between 2002 and 2012, the number of majority women-owned firms with $10 million or more in revenues increased from 8,110 to 12,700 – a 56.6% increase. During that same time period, the number of women-owned firms with $1 million or more in revenues grew from 116,985 to 152,900 – a 30.7% increase. Thus, the growth in the number of $10M+ women-owned firms exceeds the growth of all $1M+ women-owned firms by 84%.
  • Comparing growth rates among the firms of highest achievement finds women-owned firms again surpassing average growth by a large margin. The growth in the number of $10M+ women-owned firms (56.6%) surpasses the growth in the number of all $10M+ businesses (38.4%) by fully 47%.
  • The share of firms reaching this rarified atmosphere remains small. Within the population of million-dollar firms, 75% have $1-$4.9 million, 12% have $5-$9.9 million, and 13% have $10 million or more in revenues. Among million-dollar women-owned firms, 82% have $1-4.9M, 10% have $5-9.9M, and 8% have $10M+ in revenues.
  • Some industries are more scalable than others. Looking within the population of million-dollar women-owned firms finds that women-owned firms in wholesale trade have achieved the highest level of firm revenues. Fully 20% of the million-dollar women-owned firms in this industry have topped the $10 million mark, well above the 8% seen among all million-dollar women-owned firms. Women-owned firms in three other industries have also exceeded the 8% national average: finance and insurance, in which 12% of million-dollar women-owned firms have achieved $10M+ in revenues; transportation/warehousing, in which 11% have passed the $10M mark; and arts/entertainment/recreation, in which 10% have done the same.

And, perhaps most importantly, why has this been happening? In our view, growth at the upper reaches of business achievement is not only a logical next step in the continued overall growth at rates exceeding the national average, there is now much more support for these mountain-climbing women – such as The Committee of 200 and the Women Presidents’ Organization. Higher achieving women are now getting more visibility and recognition. While it’s still not always good (strong, successful women still referred to in less-than-flattering, rhymes-with-witch terms), greater visibility provides more role models for young women, more of whom may be dreaming bigger because of the achievements of these high-flying women.

The news coverage of this exciting new report was kicked off late last week by an article in Meghan Casserly’s Girl Friday column for ForbesWoman, “Women In (Big) Business: How XX-Driven $10 Million Plus Firms Could Take The Lead.” More are sure to follow, as we’ve been chatting with a number of reporters.

In the meantime, fellow womenablers, read the report, applaud our achievements, and start spreading the news!

4 thoughts on “Many Successful Women-Owned Businesses are Growing “Under the Radar”

  1. Pingback: The Company Memo: Friday, February 1, 2013 — MSNBC

  2. Pingback: The Company Memo: Friday, February 1, 2013 | Now

  3. Pingback: Treasure Hunt on The Path to Success — Business Reinvention

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