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The Top 50 Fastest Women-Led Companies being announced today

If you think women-owned business are small start ups that bake cookies or create baby products you are sadly mistaken. In Fort Lauderdale today, the Women Presidents' Organization and American Express Open will announce the Top 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Led Companies. The largest company on the list has $115 million in revenue. These women are leading companies in every industry imaginable.

Unfortunately, guess what will be missing from that list? There will not be a single company from my home state of Florida, the location where the event is taking place.That's the bad news, at least for those of us from Florida. It's particularly bad because I know for a fact that we have some of the most dynamic women-led businesses in our state. To be eligible for the ranking, businesses are required to be privately held, women owned/led companies in the U.S. or Canada and have reached revenue of at least $500,000 by the first week of 2005 and $2 million in 2009.

The good news is that nationally, women-owned businesses contribute nearly $3 trillion to our national economy and support 23 million jobs. That's a SIGNIFICANT amount of money. And these women business owners say they are optimistic that they will experience revenue growth in 2010 and 2011.

Marsha Marsha Firestone, founder of the Women President's Organization, which now has 525 members, was kind enough to share some of the findings of a survey of these women-led businesses. She plans to present them at the annual conference tonight.

Most of the Top 50 are lead by women of an average age of 47. They started the business in their mid-30s. "It looks like they got experience, then said I can do it better. I can  earn more money and have more power," Firestone said. About 80 percent of the women started the company themselves, 14 percent bought it and 5 percent got it from a family member.

Once women become owners and leaders, they they don’t want to give it up their control. Very few of them have investors and most started the business with their own funds, Firestone said.

Another interesting fact: Women business owners take care of their employees: 72 percent provide health and life insurance, 86 percent offer a 401k,and  52 percent offer tuition reimbursement, 56 allow telecommuting, 50 percent allowed flex time. "It's  amazing what they are doing for their staff," Firestone notes. 

 I think Firestone is accurate when she says women need to be recognized as major business contributors and not just as mom operations.  "They contribute tremendous amount to economy and employ tremendous number of people." Even better news: most of them plan to hire in the next year.