By Nell Merlino
Women represent nearly 50% of all privately-owned businesses-nearly ten million in total. It’s an impressive statistic considering it wasn’t until 1974 that women were granted the right to have business credit in their own names. But according to The Center for Business Research, only 3% of all women firms have revenues of $1 million or more which doesn’t necessarily equate to economic success.
So what would happen if just one million of women business owners each generated one million dollars in revenue? What would that do for this sluggish economy? How many jobs would be created? We’re on our way to finding out. With the recession and slow recovery has come the need to regroup and get back to basics to keep on track with our ambitious goal. It’s a brilliant opportunity to prove that entrepreneurs, rather than the corporations, are America’s secret weapon to improve the economy and create new jobs. In fact, it’s time for the entire small business community to take a closer look at the building blocks of America’s entrepreneurial culture, what we call “The Four C’s” to grow a company and thrive in the best and worst of economic climates:
Creativity is needed to look at products, services, distribution, and infrastructure in a new or different way. Gayla Bentley of Houston, TX, sold her affordable clothing line through major department stores. When sales slowed, however, she changed her model and sold through boutiques.
Bentley didn’t wait around for decisions to be made; she found buyers.
Confidence is key to problem solving and growth. Confidence comes from doing what you do best – whether it’s developing your product, building partnerships, or creating your 10 year vision- then building a team that complements your strengths. The job market is full of extremely talented people looking to jump into growing businesses; there has never been a better or more important time to hire.
Then there is cash. In this economy with credit tight, cash is king, or for women entrepreneurs, cash is queen. Pay your credit card bills on time, and get your customers to pay you on time. Check in with your banker if you have one; get a banker if you don’t. Also, look at ways you can cut costs.
Most important is community. Being involved in an active community of your peers will help you recognize pitfalls, learn shortcuts, and stay inspired.
From networking organizations to breast cancer research walks and runs, we know that you are most likely to succeed when you are able to set goals together, create accountability, and share support.
This is the moment for entrepreneurs to play a more significant role than ever before in creating jobs and solving the economic crisis with creativity, confidence, cash and community.
Nell Merlino is President and CEO of Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, a not-for-profit provider of resources, business education, and community support for women entrepreneurs seeking to grow micro-businesses into million dollar enterprises. She is the author of “Stepping Out of Line: Lessons for Women Who Want It Their Way in Life, in Love and at Work” as well as the creative force behind the creation of “Take Your Daughters To Work Day.” You can learn more about Count Me In at: www.count-me-in.org/