10 Successful Female Entrepreneurs and Their Secrets

American Express OPEN’s "The State of Women-Owned Businesses 2017” found that more than 11.6 million U.S. firms are owned by women, generating $1.7 trillion in sales. Women are starting businesses at record rates and making a big economic difference.

Here are ten successful female business owner’s quotes to help inspire your own entrepreneurial journey.

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Jenny Fleiss and Jennifer Hyman


Known For: These creative entrepreneurs, who met in business school, are the female founders of Rent the Runway,  an apparel and accessories rental business.

Words of Wisdom: In an interview with Inc., Jennifer Fleiss offered this advice:

“Don't be afraid to enter an industry in which you have no experience. I often think that it is because Jenn and I didn't have experience in the fashion industry that we've been able to rethink some fundamental assumptions about the way it works and create an entirely new category of rental.”

Elizabeth Arden


Known For: Here’s a fearless woman far ahead of her time! Elizabeth Arden was a pioneer of the modern cosmetics and beauty salon industry. Born in 1878, by the age of 50 she owned 150 upscale salons across the United States and Europe with products in the luxury market available in 22 countries. At one time she was one of the wealthiest women in the world.

Words of Wisdom: There’s been a lot written about Arden. She had a childhood dream of being a rich powerful entrepreneur but her early career wasn’t glamourous. After dropping out of nursing school, she worked as a receptionist and bank teller before moving to New York and starting her business. Her persistence paid off.

A well-known business quote from her applicable to those running a business: “Repetition makes reputation and reputation makes customers.”

Martha Stewart


Known For: No doubt, you’ve come across some aspect of this this savvy businesswoman’s empire. Martha Stewart started a small business, catering out of her basement, and now controls her company that encompasses publishing, internet, broadcasting and merchandise and with a net worth totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.

Words of Wisdom: In an interview for AOL’s BUILD Speaker Series, Stewart was asked what career advice she finds herself giving over and over again. She replied, “When you’re through changing, you’re through.” She went on to say that if you’re working a really great job that you love, it can be too easy to fall into the trap of settling when there’s still so much you could do.

For more Martha, visit her official website.

Sara Blakely


Known For: Sara Blakely was getting ready for a party when she realized she didn’t have the right undergarment to provide a smooth look under white pants. Armed with scissors and sheer genius, she cut the feet off her control top pantyhose and the SPANX revolution began.

Recognized as one of the most powerful businesswomen in the world, Blakely has expanded her empire and now gives back by setting aside a portion of SPANX proceeds to elevate women across the planet. Check out the many foundations her company supports here.

Words of Wisdom: “I failed the LSAT. Basically, if I had not failed, I'd have been a lawyer and there would be no Spanx. I think failure is nothing more than life's way of nudging you that you are off course. My attitude to failure is not attached to outcome, but in not trying. It is liberating.”

Tory Burch


Known For: Tory Burch is Chairman, CEO and Chief Designer at Tory Burch LLC and Founder of The Tory Burch Foundation. In 2015, she was listed as the 73rd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.

Words of Wisdom: “Buckle up and know that it’s going to be a tremendous amount of work. There were times when my team and I were working around the clock. And yes, it was exhausting. But in order to build a great business, you have to put in the time and energy and be extremely tenacious. We may live in an age of instant messaging and instant gratification, but there is no short cut to success.”



Arianna Huffington


Known For: Arianna Huffington is best known as co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, acquired by AOL in 2011 for $315 million. She's currently the CEO of Thrive Global, which she founded, and the author of 15 books. In 2009, Huffington was #12 in Forbes's first-ever list of the Most Influential Women in Media. She serves on numerous boards, including Uber and The Center for Public Integrity.

Words of Wisdom: “We need to accept that we won't always make the right decisions, that we'll screw up royally sometimes - understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it's part of success.”

Lu Zhang


Known For: Lu Zhang is the founder of the venture capital firm NewGen Capital, which specializes in healthcare and technology investments. Before founding her own business, Zhang was a venture partner at Fenox Venture Capital. She is also the founder of Acetone, a startup focused on building a new medical device for testing for Type II diabetes.

Words of Wisdom: “I have to admit, I have had experience where people challenge me because of my gender, because of my nationality. But I take it from a different perspective. The stronger challenge I get, the stronger my motivation to really prove that I can make it happen.”

Barbara Corcoran


Known For: After failing at twenty-two other jobs, Barbara Corcoran borrowed $1,000 from a boyfriend, quit her job as a diner waitress, and started a tiny real estate office in New York City. Today, with over $2 billion in revenues, The Corcoran Group is New York’s premier real estate company. Corcoran’s highest-profile job is as a panel member on ABC’s Shark Tank. She’s also authored a best-selling and book hosts the wildly popular podcast, Business Unusual with Barbara Corcoran.

Words of Wisdom: “The joy is in the getting there. The beginning years of starting your business, the camaraderie when you're in the pit together, are the best years of your life. So rather than being so focused on when you get big and powerful, if you can just get the juice out of that... don't miss it.”

Abby Kircher


Known For: Abby Kircher started Abby's Better Nut Butter when she was just 15 years old. Initially, she sold her product at farmer’s markets. The flavored nut butters exploded in popularity and her business has experienced 400% growth through distribution in grocery store chains and independent retailers across the U.S. The business is truly a family affair with Abby's parents, brothers and grandparents involved in the company.

Words of Wisdom: "Just take it step by step, don't rush it. It's going to take time. It's a working process. You're going to make mistakes. But definitely go for it. Don't ever be afraid to share something you love with other people, because most likely they'll love it too."


In a July 2018 interview, SBA Administrator Linda McMahon, an entrepreneur herself, outlined one of the challenges that female business owners face.

“When it comes to getting equal access to credit, we need to continue to break down barriers,” McMahon says. “Women are starting more businesses these days, and they’re resilient. We need to help them get access to more loans and seed funding.”

At SmartBiz Loans, we agree that women should have equal access to low-cost SBA loans. We’re proud that we are helping fund approximately 30% of all our SBA loans to women-owned businesses, higher than the national average.

Our video outlines details about how proceeds from an SBA loan can help women owned businesses. Included are interviews with female entrepreneurs who have worked with SmartBiz Loans: SBA Loans for Women Owned Businesses

To meet some of our dynamic female customers, check out our blog celebrating women business owners: SmartBiz Celebrates Women Entrepreneurs