50 Fastest-Growing Women Owned Companies Share Key Attributes

50 Fastest-Growing Women Owned Companies Share Key AttributesOn April 28, 2010 the Women Presidents Organization and American Express OPEN announced the winners of the 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies in North America.

The top winner? Argent Associates Inc., a New Jersey supply chain company that provides warehousing, logistics and product life cycle management services. President and CEO Beatriz Manetta’s 12-year old company saw gross revenues grow more than twelvefold in two years, from over $9 million in 2007 to $115 million in 2009.
Second on the list was BrightStar, a home healthcare and medical staffing company in Illinois. Third was Artech Information Systems LLC in New Jersey.

WPO’s founder and president Marsha Firestone says the group launched its first ranking three years ago in order to combat the stereotype that women-owned companies are primarily mom-and-pop operations in “retail, cookie-making or crafts.” Most of the Top 50 are business-to-business companies, often in traditionally male-dominated fields.

On average, the companies on the list had revenue growth of over $30 million between 2005 and 2009;  revenue of $45 million in 2009; and employ nearly 140 people.

What helped these women entrepreneurs reach such growth? A poll of the winners asked their reasons for success and found these factors in common:

  • A commitment to high growth — 71% agreed or strongly agreed that their goal from the very beginning of their leadership of the company was to build a large company
  • Inspiring leaders — 64% believe their “ability to motivate employees” is the most important characteristic for being a successful woman entrepreneur
  • Surrounding yourself with a skilled team — 78% say “Hiring the right people” was the most important action that contributed to their company’s growth
  • Adapting to a changing environment — The strategy most frequently chosen (64%) to meet the challenge of the current economy is to “enter new markets”. Sixty-one percent admitted current economic conditions caused them to change their business strategies

Asked their toughest current challenge, the majority (56 percent) of respondents said it is lower sales. Despite this, an astounding 96 percent expect to add employees this year. No wonder: The majority also said their favorite part of being an entrepreneur was the ability to create jobs.

Companies were ranked according to a sales growth formula that combines percentage and absolute growth. From this list, the 50 Fastest are selected. To be qualified for the ranking, businesses are required to be privately held, woman-owned/led companies in the U.S. or Canada and have reached revenue of at least $500,000 by the first week of 2005 and $2 million in 2009. Find more information at WPO’s website or American Express OPEN (note:  American Express OPEN is a sponsor of this site).

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Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.