Womenable CEO Julie Weeks talks about the surprise findings of her latest report, which reveals that the number of women-owned firms with $10 million or more in revenue is growing far faster than previously thought.

By Misty Gibbs (Founder, Empower Lounge)

I had the great opportunity to interview Julie Weeks, Womenable President and CEO, about her latest report Growing Under the Radar: An Exploration of the Achievements of Million-Dollar Women-Owned Firms commissioned by American Express OPEN.

It reveals that women business owners are blazing trails faster and bigger than we thought. In fact, over the past decade the growth in the number of women-owned firms with $10 million or more in revenues has increased by 56.6%, a rate 47% faster than the rate of growth of all $10m+ firms and nearly twice (+98%) the rate of growth of all women-owned firms.

How does your report analyze women-owned businesses differently than previous reports, and what’s important to know about women-led vs. women-owned firms?

Until now, our assumptions about women’s growth and performance have been based on the data that “only 2% of women-owned firms have reached or surpassed the million-dollar revenue threshold.” This could lead us to assume women aren’t progressing, so it’s important to understand these statistics. In addition, most government statistics only focus on majority women-owned firms.

They do not account for “women-led firms” that have reached or surpassed the million-dollar threshold who have disappeared from the ranks of “majority women-owned” status because they “grew past” the 51% ownership definition.

Situations where this might happen is if they choose to bring on equity investors, senior managers or going public. This means that the business growth and performance for almost 50% of women business owners is off our radar!

The great news our latest report unveils is the economic robustness of women-owned businesses within this top size category – especially among $10m+ firms. For the first time, we’ve been able to analyze and publish the growth in the number of million-dollar firms within more detailed size categories or buckets like $1 to $4.9 million, $5 to $9.9 million, and $10 million+. What we found is that women-owned firms have been “growing under the radar!”

Which industries are driving this growth? Are there new categories popping up?

There are four industries in which the share of $10M+ firms exceeds the national average (8%) when examining the million dollar firm population. they are: wholesale trade (20%), finance and insurance (12%), transportation and warehousing (11%), and arts/entertainment/recreation (10%). The industries experiencing hot growth for women-owned firms include: health care and social assistance, and education services. We are also seeing stronger than average growth in accommodation and food services and in professional/scientific/technical services.

What key factors are driving this success and revenue growth?

There’s greater visibility and recognition for successful women business owners, more widespread networks for women business owners (especially peer support networks and power groups like Womens’ President Organizations (WPO) and The Committee of 200) This has made it easier for growth-oriented women business owners to find role models and mentors, two ingredients that fuel business growth and success.

“If you can’t see it, you can’t be it”—a generation ago, women couldn’t find any peers at these high levels.

Another big generation shift is the fact women are now starting their own companies — in the past, successful women business owners had inherited their father or husband’s business.

Do you see a trend in women transitioning from “lifestyle” businesses to “how can I make this a $1M+ business”?

I believe women are shooting higher because they now have role models but also because their success enables them to pay it forward to their community and the world.

Having the financial power to make a difference makes it more attractive to build a high-growth business—it’s not about lining their pockets but helping the world be a better place!

This post was originally posted at Empower Lounge

What factors do you are behind the jump in $10M+ women-owned businesses?

About the guest blogger: Misty Gibbs is Founder of Empower Lounge, a digital media startup focused on helping women entrepreneurs launch and scale their companies. To provide women entrepreneurs a go-to source they can trust, Misty leverages her own startup journey with several venture-backed online advertising startups, two of which went public. Follow her on Twitter at @misty_gibbs.