Lessons From Fast Growing Women-Led Businesses

4 Things We Can Learn From Fast Growing Women-Led Businesses

By Tim Beyers
The Hartford Small Biz Ahead | Originally published Published: September 28, 2018, Updated: September 5, 2023

According to the 2017 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report there are 44% more U.S. firms employing 13% more workers than there were 20 years ago.

And women-owned businesses account for a huge portion of that growth: 114% more firms, and 27% more employees. You’ll find some of the standouts in the 50 fastest-growing businesses in the 2017 Inc. 5000.

SaviLinx (#28 on the Inc. 5000) has grown revenue 9,204% over the past three years. Globalization Partners (#33) is up 8,187% over the same period. Na Ali’i Consulting and Sales (#40) is up 6,638%, MM.LaFleur (#43) is up 6,594% , and FedBiz IT Solutions (#50) is up 6,142%. All were either founded or co-founded by women.

Three key factors appear to be driving that growth: Women business owners tend to be good at allocating capital, collaborating inside and outside their companies, and listening to the needs of others. As a result, says Geri Stengel, founder and head of Ventureneer, a New York-based research firm that helps produce the annual American Express report, “they tend to be rated as better managers than men.”

What does that mean practically? Here are four “best practice” ideas from four women who’ve founded or contributed to fast-growing companies.

1. Hire the person you’ll need to grow.

Deborah Whitby, Owner – Austin Plumbery, Austin, Texas

Corporate Profile: Founded in April 2016 with $500 in savings, this Austin-based plumbing contractor now employs five and is hiring more after growing to a half-million in sales in 15 months. And there’s more growth on the way: Owner Deborah Whitby says her company is already “on track to record $1 million in revenue” by the end of 2018.

Best Practice: Hiring for Missing Skills

While Whitby was certain she could forge a winning strategy, she had no idea how to set up the systems and processes needed to execute on her vision. Hiring an operational dispatcher proved crucial.

“Her job was also to create all the systems, processes, and procedures that [have become] the foundation of our company,” Whitby says. “We simply could not have scaled without her.”

How to Steal This Strategy: Subcontract First

Hiring an executive at an executive-level salary wouldn’t work, so Whitby pitched her vision and offered a part-time subcontracting deal. As cash flow grew and the business expanded, a full-time offer followed, creating a win-win for Whitby and her team.

The lesson: Be ready to pitch your vision to get the staff you need. Salary and benefits alone may not be enough.

2. Know exactly what you want in a new hire.

Sandra Lewis, CEO – Worldwide101, New York, New York

Corporate Profile: Founded in 2012, Worldwide101 supports founders, executives, and small businesses with a team of home-based workers performing business services such as executive assistance, project management, marketing, and bookkeeping. The company has grown 60% annually since day one.

Best Practice: Screening for Shared Values

“We had a lot of hiring failures in the first two years,” says Worldwide101 CEO Sandra Lewis. Too many workers either went missing or lied about their whereabouts during work hours.

When installing computer monitoring software yielded no improvements, Lewis looked to her best-performing staff to discover what they had in common, and found they all had a sense of ownership. They wanted their clients, the company, and themselves to win at their job.

Lewis responded by changing her approach to hiring: Instead of looking first for aptitude, she’d screen for the same sense of ownership exhibited by her best employees.

How to Steal This Strategy: Hire for Culture Fit

With the shift, Worldwide101 is now rejecting the vast majority of job applicants and instead hiring those who’ll mesh with their culture. “It’s obvious from our first few conversations if someone is a good fit,” Lewis says.

In fact, only 0.15% of the 20,000-plus who applied in 2017 were hired — and most who join, stay, says Lewis, pointing to the company’s 5-star rating on employment review site Glassdoor.

The lesson: Study what sets your high performers apart and then write out the values they exhibit — Worldwide101 has five — ensuring every new hire is a fit. Happier, more engaged employees can help you grow and outmaneuver competition….[MORE]


To read the entire article by Tim Beyers at The Hartford Small Biz Ahead website , visit: 4 Things We Can Learn From Fast Growing Women-Led Businesses