The vital entrepreneur: high impact at its best

Women-owned companies

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Breaking down barriers

Women entrepreneurs face well-known challenges to scaling up and becoming high impact. In our report Thinking big: how to accelerate the growth of women-owned companies, we discussed some of these difficulties and offered a roadmap to emerging women entrepreneurs.

This included five key activities to scaling up their businesses:

  • Think big and be bold
  • Build a public profile
  • Work on the business, not in it
  • Establish key advisory networks
  • Evaluate financing for expansion

It comes as no surprise, then, that when we look at our highest-impact women finalists, they have overcome — or simply ignored — many of these traditional barriers to find their stride toward the bold growth of big companies.

EY - The vital entrepreneur

Big, bold ambitions

As generally younger (median nine years), non-family businesses, high-impact women-owned companies tend to be smaller and more agile than the rest of our finalists.

They can react quickly to market forces and seize market share from older, slower counterparts. To take advantage of these traits, these entrepreneurs are thinking big and challenging the status quo.

This mindset also extends to the kind of businesses they have created, many of which are in retail and consumer products (35%) or health care services (17%). Women leaders in the retail space tend to spot a niche opportunity, then create an online presence to take advantage of it.

The large proportion of leaders in health care may reflect women’s representation in the field. They’re on the front lines, witnessing radical changes in health care products and services. That leads naturally to identifying gaps in health care and innovating to fill those gaps with new businesses.

In another indication of bold thinking, these women tell us that they have ambitious plans for expansion. The majority are currently operating at the local, regional or national level.

However, more than 50% are planning to move into developed global markets, and more than 25% are looking to expand into emerging markets.