MAS Global Featured in Inc. article

Top female business leaders from WPO share their most valuable learnings.

6 Lessons From Women-Led Businesses Changing the World.

women-owned businesses

The number of women-owned businesses in the 1990s grew nearly three times as fast (16 percent) as the number of businesses overall (6 percent) between 1992 and 1997, and that trajectory has only continued through today. The impact today is quite impressive, as women-owned businesses now represent 42 percent of all businesses–nearly 13 million companies–employing 9.4 million workers and generating $1.9 trillion in revenue, according to the latest (2019) American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.

Women-owned businesses have made a mark in the business world beyond profit-making. They have influenced the way the world does business, how leaders interact with their teams, and how they pursue their goals. We asked six women business owners from Women Presidents Organization (WPO) for lessons to share on what they’ve learned in their journeys.

1. Vulnerability is an asset.

In the past, leaders strained to put on the face of complete command and hide vulnerabilities. Yet the tides have changed on this thinking, and the pandemic lifted the veil to the notion that you are one person from 9-5 and another when you go home. Women business leaders today no longer feel the need to conform to a historical display of strength. Merrilee Kick of BuzzBallz/Southern Champion, the only women-owned distillery/winery/brewery in the U.S., said, “I think caring is the most important lesson. When people quit, they usually quit because their manager didn’t care. When people stay, it’s normally because they love their work and their manager.”

Leaders who are brave enough to expose their vulnerability–who are genuine, honest, and straightforward–earn the respect of their team and ultimately create a safe space for meaningful exchanges of ideas and perspectives thus leading to innovation, productivity, progress, and business success.

2. We are better together.

Throughout the world, women’s organizations are bringing women business leaders together, assisting in identifying synergies with other organizations to ensure that women’s varying needs are being met as they work through the stages of their business growth. Monica Hernandez, head of MAS Global Consulting, a Latina-owned mission-driven firm providing software development and digital services, said, “Successful entrepreneurs have a social responsibility to impact our communities. I know firsthand the incredible source of talent that women, Latinos, and minorities overall can represent to companies struggling to find technical talent. More diversity in tech is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also a business imperative.”

3. Wake up with a purpose.

It might be something your grandmother would have said, but it turns out–she was right! Purpose-driven companies are outperforming companies that focus solely on maximizing profit. “The lesson I’ve learned from leading with impact and purpose is that customers want leaders who take a stand on issues they care about. It’s a great differentiator for our brand in the marketplace. Data shows that 74 percent of consumers if price and quality are similar, will choose a product that gives back to issues they care about,” said Jill Osur of Teneral Cellars, a certified women-owned wine company driven to reshape the industry so it reflects women. The business paradigm has completely shifted to favor for-profit companies that serve an authentic purpose.

4. There is room for everyone.

In the past, women leaders often competed with one another because of a lack of opportunity. However, there has been a shift in the past few decades in which collaboration, mentorship, and sharing insights help to bring about new strategies and business success. Nancy Geenen, of Flexibility, a social impact firm focused on equity at work, said, “Creating psychological safety at work so that all team members feel they matter and belong, increases diversity metrics. Research demonstrates that diverse leadership makes better decisions, outperforms competitors, and returns more value to stakeholders.”

5. Look at it in a different way.

When looking at a problem, it’s always best to examine different perspectives, especially those not your own. “You might think that creating purpose in the making of video games might be difficult to do, but video games have such an impact by teaching us real-world skills while having the time of our life. We learn the ramifications of our decisions, how to be motivated by failure, managing resources carefully, and how to work on a team. All of these skills are used in video games, while also having fun,” stated Christina Seelye of Maximum Games.

6. The universe is a circular place.

The world is smaller and more connected than ever before, and those who succeed will be those who take this into consideration while building their businesses. Tara Turkington of Flow Communications, a full-service marketing and communications company based in South Africa, said, “We put people at the center of everything; our purpose is to do work we love, with people we like, on work that will make the world better.”

Today, women-owned businesses make up 42 percent of all businesses–yet only 4.2 percent of those businesses have revenue of $1 million or more. Only 20 percent of million-dollar-plus companies are woman-owned. Hurdles still exist for getting women-owned businesses to the million-dollar mark, but hopes are high. The lessons and successes of women entrepreneurs clear the way for more opportunities for women to lead and thrive–paved by the commitment and collaboration of the pioneering women who initially took the reins.