Even if women-owned firms are 34% of all businesses, they only represent 8% of employment and 4% of revenues. Women have historically faced near impossible barriers to entry in the business world. And the above statistic shows that the news hasn’t gotten much better.
But women are charging ahead. Female entrepreneurship is on the rise. Between 97 and 2017, female-owned businesses increased by 114%. That number is increasing each year.
Today we’re going to celebrate this accomplishment by highlighting five women who’ve faced the odds and won out. Here they are.
1. Michelle Miller Fitness
If you’re lucky or rich, you could start a business in a month or two. But it can take up to a year to start a small business due to the myriad of hoops to jump.
Michelle Miller managed to start her business in less than 6 months. This included porduct design, procurement, and branding.
What does Michelle Miller sell? A teaching course for parents and caregivers. She teaches parents how to help their children exercise in fun and unique ways.
She meets her clients where they are when she can. This is unique. Most services only use video.
The inception of her businesses did not always come easy. She faced early and additional costs due to warehousing. She faced the societal stigma of children and weight training.
Learn more about Michelle.
2. Sarah Blakely at SPANX
Would you bet your entire life savings on a business venture? I guess it depends on the venture, right?
For Sarah Blakely, betting that much was the right choice.
At 29, she invested the $5,000 in her bank account into researching and launching a product women could wear under tight pants. Why? Because who wants to show off their underwear on the regular?
When she did this, she was a door-to-door fax machine salesperson and Disney ride greeter. Now her SPANX are so popular that even Oprah Winfrey loves them. And Sarah began by selling these things out of her apartment!
How much is she worth now? Approximately $250 million in annual revenue.
3. Tory Burch
Sometimes you have to slave under the supervision others to make your break. And I’m not talking about Hollywood here. I’m talking about fashion.
Tory Burch worked under the names of famous Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, and Narciso Rodriguez. In 2004, she decided to launch her own fashion brand.
Again, Tory is an Oprah favorite. Her road might have been a little longer if she didn’t have O’s endorsement, but she still would have taken the world by storm with her ready-to-wear accessories and lifestyle line.
4. Weili Dai of Marvell Technology Group
“Fair” and “care.” Two words Weili Dai is found of.
Weili is the co-founder of the world’s third-largest fabless semiconductor company. And she is worth $920 million or more.
She came to the United States when she was 17. She spoke no English back in 1979 when her parents moved to San Francisco for work.
Both her parents were educated. Dad was the chief engineer at a big tech company and mom was a nurse. Weili went to UC Berkley to study computer science.
She married someone of similar drive. He, his brother, and Weili went in together to start a semiconductor company. Today they own 70% of the market share for silicon chips.
In 2000, they went public. And within ten years they made it on Forbes’ 400 richest Americans list.
To What Does She Attribute Success?
Weili says she wouldn’t have been successful if she hadn’t been willing to partner. Teamwork is the biggest driver of success for her.
This extended to their competition. If she hadn’t been willing to partner with powerful companies such as Intel, they’d still be a fledgling company.
She’s unwilling to cut corners. If a partner wants to cut corners, she cuts them off. She won’t waste even her boundless energy on them.
Humility is another part of her success. She decided to eschew the private office and works among her employees in a cubicle.
With 3,000 employees in the United States and 3,000 abroad, she’s committed to employee satisfaction. They have a family first policy and family is allowed to visit at any time. And employee health takes precedent as she built basketball courts and exercise facilities in each of her facilities.
5. Yang Lan of Sun Media
Forget Oprah, we should be looking to Yang Lan when it comes to world media domination. She is undoubtedly the most powerful woman in Chinese media. And as you know, China is slated to take over the world in a few years.
Yang Lan turned down a good job for an opportunity to become a moderator on a Thai tv show. They were looking for a female college student for the world and it was her school who recommended her.
They wanted someone who looked young and innocent. Yang didn’t fit the innocent look. And she challenged the director in 1990 on his views. She got the job as a host for Zheng Da Variety Show.
From there she climbed the ladder. She worked in television in the United States while attending school at Col and made all the right connections out east.
Ten years later she and her husband acquired the Hong Kong company, “LEUNG KEE Holdings Limited.” This later became Sun Media.
Sun Media almost disappeared in 2003. They lost more than 200 million Hong Kong Dollars. Instead of giving up, Yang sold 70% and gave 51% create a non-profit.
Later she created “Her Village” which became one of her biggest achievement and put her back on the map.