Five Success Strategies for Growing a Multi-Million Dollar Business: How Successful Women Lead

By at 8 October, 2012, 8:27 am

October is National Women’s Small Business Month, and SBE Council is thrilled that experts Sharon Hadary and Laura Henderson, authors of the newly released book, “How Women Lead: The 8 Essential Strategies Successful Women Know,” have penned this special piece based on their book and years of knowledge in the field.  What are the attributes of highly successful women business owners and why do they flourish?   Hadary and Henderson provide some insights.


By Sharon Hadary and Laura Henderson

Sharon Hadary and Laura Henderson are authors of the newly released book, “How Women Lead: The 8 Essential Strategies Successful Women Know.”

Women lead differently and the latest research shows that having women in leadership results in more effective decision making, higher profitability, and higher employee satisfaction with the company leadership.

Here are the top five strategies that differentiate the highly successful women business leaders from those who are less successful.

Success Strategy One:  Own Your Destiny

The most successful women define success in their own terms.  They integrate achieving high financial goals with creating a business that reflects their passions.  They create businesses that provide socially responsible products and services, offer opportunities for employees to thrive, make a positive difference in the community, and create personal wealth for the owner.

Successful women leaders establish high goals and continuously move the bar higher.  This drives how they structure the business, the decisions they make, and the way they present the business.  Research shows that the only significant predictor of whether a woman will get capital to expand her business is not length of time in business, size of business, or industry — it is her goal for growth.

Success Strategy Two:  Lead like a Woman

Highly successful women build on their feminine leadership strengths of collaboration, inclusion, and consultation.  The result is a culture where everyone’s ideas are considered in making decisions and where people feel valued and, therefore, are committed to achieving organizational goals.

Women’s leadership style is holistic.  When women view a situation, they go beyond the specific facts and the numbers to take into account personnel and organization considerations.  As a result, they identify opportunities and risks others often miss, strengthening their competitive edge.

Successful women leaders are decisive as well as collaborative.  They establish demanding goals, make the hard decisions, and address issues.  Their difference is in the way they handle these issues.

Success Strategy Three:  Translate the Stories Numbers Tell to Drive Strategic Results

The most important role of the company head is to take care of the health of the organization.  Give high priority to developing the knowledge to understand the business fundamentals of your industry and your company, to decipher complex and uncertain situations and their financial implications, and the decisiveness to take appropriate actions that respond to challenges while enhancing your company’s performance.

Never undermine your credibility by opening a discussion by saying you don’t understand finance.  Learn about finance and speak about it in its own language.

The women owners with the largest, fastest-growing organizations produce more financial reports more frequently and use the reports to measure progress, make adjustments, and develop strategy.

Success Strategy Four:  Build Exceptional Teams  

In a growing business, your success is based on your ability to accomplish your responsibilities through others.  Your job is to create teams with shared values and goals and allow them to perform.   This frees you to focus on developing the senior management team, strategy, and direction.

Invest in your team by hiring the best from the very beginning. Focus on selecting the right senior leaders.  Avoid the common mistake of hiring an executive from a large company.   You need leaders who can work effectively in a fast-moving, entrepreneurial organization — whose values are congruent with yours and who can commit to a bigger cause; have curiosity and critical thinking skills; common sense; relationship skills; risk taking skills; and respect and tolerance for the entrepreneur.

Success Strategy Five:  Nurture Your Greatest Asset: You

Growing a successful business is exhilarating.  It provides satisfaction, purpose, and accomplishments.  However, you must not allow yourself to become so caught up in your work you cannot see the world around you or lose touch with yourself.

Focus on integrating all aspects of your life: family, professional, community and personal.    Treat your time and energy as scarce resources. Establish priorities based on your values and goals. Use these priorities to make decisions about accepting requests for your time and be comfortable turning down those that do not fit into your life at this time.

Invest in yourself — become a lifelong learner; keep yourself healthy; and take time to nurture your spirituality.

Build networks of support.  Complement your professional networks with personal networks of friends, like-minded women, and colleagues who will share experiences and provide support.

Celebrate the Journey

Success is not a one-time shot — it is about composing a life over time.   In every phase of your life, there will be different opportunities and priorities.  Take time to enjoy the journey and celebrate the successes along the way.

Stay open to serendipity — the joys and opportunities that appear unexpectedly in business and personal life.  Beware of missing or dismissing these opportunities because you are so focused on your day-to-day plan.  Be open to saying “yes, let’s try it and see where it leads.”


Sharon Hadary is the founding and former executive director of the Center for Women’s Business Research.  Laura Henderson is the founder and former CEO of Prospect Associates, a highly respected $20 million health communications and biomedical research firm.  This article is based on their newly released book, “How Women Lead:  The 8 Essential Strategies Successful Women Know.”  

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