New Guidebook to Help Women Entrepreneurs Grow

Women-owned firms have grown at a rate five times the national average since 2007, according to the 2016 American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. To further the momentum and encourage more women-owned businesses to grow, the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO)—a national nonprofit with 127 chapters located internationally—launched the 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies Guide to Growth, sponsored by American Express.

Written by Dr. Marsha Firestone, president and founder of WPO, and Susan Johnson, director of communications for WPO, the book aims to help women business owners grow their enterprises through tried-and-true methods, and arms female entrepreneurs with actionable ways to succeed. It features stories from 15 different experienced female business owners, who are also winners of the 50 Fastest Women-Owned/Led Companies.

Fastest Growing by the Numbers


The 50 Fastest generated a combined $4.96 billion in 2015 revenues (mean of $99.2 million) and collectively employed 44,744 in 2015 (mean of 1,028). All eligible companies were ranked according to a sales growth formula that combines percentage and absolute growth. From this list, the 50 Fastest were selected. To be qualified for the ranking, businesses are required to be privately held, woman-owned/led companies and have reached revenue of at least $500,000 by the first week of 2011 and $2 million in 2015.

Highlights from the 2016 50 Fastest:

  • Average Age: 49
  • CEOs that founded the business: 92%
  • Listed companies that do business globally: 44%
  • Provide health insurance: 92%
  • Plan to continue to grow their company: 90%
  • State hiring the best talent as their biggest business challenge: 44%

Detroit’s Fast Growing Female Entrepreneur


Among that group of 50 winners is founder, president and CEO of Walker-Miller Energy Services, L.L.C. (WMES), Carla Walker-Miller, a strategic and interdisciplinary businesswoman. Established in 2000, the Detroit-based firm provides energy efficiency services and offers innovative energy waste reduction solutions that lead to greater operating efficiency and contributes to occupant safety and comfort for both commercial and residential customers. After 18 years of corporate experience, Ms. Walker-Miller formed her company and has led the organization to experience double-digit growth, earning both local and national recognition as an innovative company to watch.

Today, Walker-Miller employs 43 with revenues of $7 million for 2015. She was named the SBA’s Entrepreneur of the Year for Michigan. Networking has helped Walker-Miller grow in recent years. She particularly credits TechTown Detroit‘s accelerator program as well as Inforum, a leading networking organization for women; SBA’s leadership programs; and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses.

Entrepreneurial growth stories and strategies can be found in the 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies Guide to Growth, available for download here. The handbook provides insight into the strategies that fueled their growth, highlighting tips and best practices on topics including: branding, financing, human resources, innovation, and sales.