Top Women – Led Businesses: Succeeding in a Man’s World

Every year, Women Presidents’ Organisation releases a list of the fastest-growing companies led by women. The 7th annual WPO 50 Fastest was announced on April 24, 2014.

Unlike in previous years, this year’s list was not limited to US companies – in fact, two businesses in the top ten are from outside USA. Women Presidents’ Organisation (WPO) is a non-profit group whose members are at the helm of large multimillion dollar companies.

Stereotypically, women-led businesses are assumed to come under the three industries – beauty, fashion or fitness. But as in previous years, this list proves otherwise – information technology, manufacturing and transportation among others are also represented along with the traditional industries.

To qualify for the ranking, companies had to be privately held, have annual revenue of more than USD500000 by 2008 year end, and be owned or led by women. The formula used for the ranking takes into account absolute growth as well as percentage improvement.

Here are some numbers from the list:

  • Average age of owner/CEO is 48.
  • 90% of the women CEOs are also the founders.
  • The companies have on average 657 employees.
  • Average revenue growth: from USD32.6 million in 2009 to USD98.8 million in 2013.

#1: Cindy Monroe, Thirty-one Gifts

Topping the list is Cindy Monroe whose business, Thirty-one Gifts, had a four-year growth rate of 1900% (USD722 million). This direct-selling business – focussing on purses, totes, accessories and organising solutions – is based in Columbus, Ohio, employs 2000 employees and has almost 120000 sales consultants across USA.

Monroe believes, the business, which grew out of her basement, should inspire women who want to start their own business.

#2: Kathy Mills, Strategic Communications

Strategic Communications, a voice, data and video solutions provider based in Louisville, Kentucky had a four-year growth rate of 2332.5% (USD933 million). The founder and CEO, Kathy Mills has been leading the company since 1994 after selling her successful computer store business.

Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Kathy Mills feels that she learned a lot of business skills like integrity, customer service, and facing adversity, from her siblings. In a traditionally male-dominated field, Mills strives to provide her customers with top quality products and the best service possible.

#3: Jennifer Maier, Women’s Distribution Services

Based in Lake Wylie, South Carolina, WDS is a warehousing and distribution company that serves different industries like food, medical and manufacturing. The business had a four-year growth rate of 1080.3% (USD142.6 million).

The founder/president Jennifer Maier is focussed on service-driven commitment, a vision that inspired the success of WDS right from its start in 2007. One of the examples of Maier’s innovation is the trademark Pink Hard Hat now worn by all employees of WDS.

Maier says that having belief in herself, and in her capabilities, are key lessons that she has learned in life.

#6: Zeynep Erkunt-Armagan, Erkunt Traktor Industries

The top ranker from outside USA, Erkunt Traktor Industries based in Ankara, Turkey, is presently the only tractor company with a female CEO. With a four-year growth rate of 466.7% (USD112 million), Erkunt tractors are known for their low fuel consumption. Zeynep Erkunt-Armagan, the current CEO helped found the Tractor Division of Erkunt Industries in 2004.

Presently, Erkunt manufactures 65 different tractor models which are exported to 26 countries around the world, including Australia.

A showcase of excellence

Every year, the list showcases an amazing variety of industries and the women who lead them. Most of these women have gone out, gained experience in their fields and then became entrepreneurs realising that they could do it on their own and do it better – an inspiring message for all aspiring women entrepreneurs.

You can view the full list here: http://www.womenpresidentsorg.com/www.womenpresidentsorg.com/50fastest

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