Anna Davies didn't think of herself as an entrepreneur until she started Ritual Chocolate in 2010.
"I thought, oh I could never be a business owner, you just see other people doing that," she told me. "But then when you start and you do it, you realize, everyone can do it. And everyone should do it, especially women."
A lot of women are doing it. October is recognized as National Women's Small Business Month in honor of the growing number of women launching their own businesses.
The stats are impressive. Researchers estimate there are now 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., and the number of them is growing at a rate five times faster than the national average. According to the 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express OPEN, the number of women-owned businesses rose by 45 percent between 2007 and 2016, compared to a 9 percent increase in the number of all businesses. Revenue and employment growth are also strong — since 2007, revenues among women-owned businesses have risen 35 percent compared to 27 percent overall; employment at women-owned firms has increased by 18 percent, while employment overall has dropped 1 percent.
Women's Leadership LIVE is working to help more women realize their business dreams. The company will welcome 200 entrepreneurs and executives to the Grand America Hotel Thursday through Saturday for an interactive conference and networking event.
As an entrepreneur who built World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) from a 13-person regional operation to a publicly traded global enterprise with more than 800 employees in offices worldwide and a fan base in more than 180 countries, I have learned a lot about what it takes to create a successful business. And while I find many people — especially women — want to be entrepreneurs, it can be hard to know how to do it. Women have so few role models they can turn to for direct, real-world advice. My goal now with Women's Leadership LIVE is to give them the skills, resources, contacts and support they need to succeed.
And women in Utah are uniquely positioned for success. The state ranks as the best state in the country for business by CNBC, 24/7 Wall Street and Forbes. And the 2016 State of Women-Owned Small Businesses Report commissioned by American Express OPEN ranks Utah in the top ten states for growth in the number and economic clout of women-owned businesses. It's estimated 83,800 women-owned businesses employ 75,400 people and generate sales of $14 billion – a growth of 38.8 percent since 2007. That's a lot to be proud of, but we think there's room for even more!
Women tend to focus on details and bring a lot of heart to their businesses. But we find they sometimes need a little wind beneath their wings. Women's Leadership LIVE offers proven strategies they can apply to their own businesses — guidance on things like writing a business plan, accessing capital, and knowing how and when to get accounting or legal or PR advice — as well as the confidence to pursue whatever goals they have.
Anna Davies told me perseverance got her through the challenges of launching her business, and now she likes the quality of life she has an entrepreneur. She started her company in Denver and moved to Park City a year-and-a-half ago, leaving the big city in favor of mountain living. Now she is looking at possibilities for expansion — new products, new retail locations, and new formulas for her specialty truffles.
"That's the fun thing about chocolate, there are so many different things you can do with it," she said.
And that's the thing about business – a taste of success creates a hunger for more. Kind of like chocolate.