Human Resources and Small Business & Startups

Encouraging women to cross the $1 million mark

Author and mentor says women need more business training.

February 27, 2015
Text Size:
Mary Cantando
Mary Cantando will speak Wednesday at the Business Journal’s Top Women Owned Businesses event. Courtesy Mary Cantando

Only 3 percent of woman-owned businesses generate $1 million or more in revenue annually.

“Ninety seven percent of them are under $1 million in revenue and there are 17 million women-owned businesses in the United States,” said Mary Cantando, founder of The Women’s Advantage and The Women’s Advantage Forum, and author of seven books targeting women business owners.

Cantando has spent the last 14 years trying to increase that 3 percent by working with women business owners on areas such as marketing concepts, how to gain leverage and placing a higher value on their products or services.

“In the years I’ve been working exclusively with women, I have found women are really smart, hard workers,” she said. “They really know their industry and understand what is happening in their industry, and they can develop products and services for it.

“The general piece I find women are missing is most of them don’t have any business background or training. There are these little things I’ve found that if women are taught, they can just launch forward tremendously.”

Cantando is coming to Grand Rapids March 4 to serve as the Business Journal’s Top Women Owned Businesses keynote speaker. She plans to share poignant tips and quotes from businesswomen across the globe that are particularly beneficial to helping achieve success.

“I have a nifty product called The Woman’s Advantage Shared Wisdom calendar,” she explained. “This is a calendar we’ve been producing for eight years now. Women from all over the world go onto my website and submit tips or advice, and then every year we pick the 365 that we like the best — that we think are the most clever and will impact the greatest number of women.”

Examples of quotes that have made the calendar are “You get what you tolerate” and “Asking questions might be the answer.”

“What does ‘you get what you tolerate’ mean?” Cantando asked. “You are training people how to talk to you. Don’t tell me you don’t like the way your boss, mother-in-law or spouse talk to you because whatever you accept is the way people will treat you.”

Cantando said it’s surprising what a big difference a woman can make in her career by choosing her words more carefully. For instance, she said women often present their business ventures with the word “little” attached to it, as in “I have a little business.”

Cantando said men never use the word “little” to describe what they are doing. She said by pegging a business as small or little, the woman business owner is almost preventing it from being anything else.

“Eliminate the word ‘small’ or ‘little’ from your vocabulary, and it’s amazing how the way you speak can impact your whole life,” she said.

Though the percentage of multimillion-dollar businesses owned by women is disheartening, Cantando thinks change is near.

“I do find women are starting to be more aware of how they present their businesses,” she said. “I think the general public often has an expectation of women to have very small businesses or niche businesses. You think of boutiques or a bakery or something like that.

“The women I know own demolition companies. I know a woman who provides all the telephone equipment for IBM, Nike and Boeing. I think the great thing is, as our daughters and granddaughters grow up and are exposed to women who own demolition companies, it becomes an ordinary part of life. Younger women are just expecting it to be this way.”

Cantando’s visit to Grand Rapids is well timed. She will launch The Woman’s Advantage Forum here in April. The Woman’s Advantage Forum brings together 12 to 14 women business owners each month for a face-to-face, three-hour structured business expansion session.

“The Woman’s Advantage Forum will enable women who own businesses that generate less than $1 million in annual revenue to grow to the million-dollar level and beyond,” Cantando said.

She said the Grand Rapids forum will be limited to 14 women in non-competing businesses and will be led by Jan Davies McDermott, a recognized expert in helping women across Michigan grow their businesses.

To be considered for membership, contact McDermott at (734) 417-5745 or

The Top Women Owned Businesses award event will be held 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 4, in the International Ballroom at the JW Marriott.

Recent Articles by Charlsie Dewey

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus