Some of the country’s major companies like Yahoo, Intel and Xerox are run by women. Even just a few years ago the number of female-owned businesses was much smaller than it is now, growing 68 percent between 1997 and 2014, according to Business2Community. This shows that the once male-dominated business world is slowly, but surely, opening up to women. Until recently, it was almost impossible for female business owners to receive the funding they needed to grow their small businesses and receive the guidance they required to be successful.
As the business world continues to become more female-friendly, an increasing number of women are starting their own companies. While women do continue to face some obstacles, processes like receiving small business loans have become easier and other challenges, like gender barriers, no longer limit women’s chances of success. If you’re a female thinking about starting your own business, look to those who have revolutionized their industries for a taste of what it takes to get your company started. Here are five of 2015’s top woman entrepreneurs .
1. Sheryl Sandberg
As the COO of Facebook for the past fours year, Sheryl Sandberg is one of the most powerful women in business. She previously worked as a Google executive, but joined the Facebook team in 2008. Sandberg was also recently named to the social network’s board of directors after her years of success in helping the site scale globally.
At 45 years old, she is one of the youngest business women in the country to have a net worth of over $1 billion thanks to her stock holdings in Facebook and other successful companies. Read her book "Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead," to learn about her journey and take away a few pointers for your own career.
2. Susan Wojcicki
Known as the CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki is the perfect example of how hard work and dedication can turn the smallest business into a true success story. Before she started working for YouTube, she worked for Google in 1999. In fact, the first Google office was based out of her garage. In 2014 she moved from being one of Google’s first employees to her current role as head of YouTube, which today is worth around $20 billion.
3. Julia Hu
Julia Hu is recognized as one of the most powerful women in the country’s technology industry. She’s the CEO and cofounder of Lark Technologies, which has seen great success and was even named "Top 10 Most Innovative Consumer Electronic Companies in the World" by Fast Company. With a degree from Stanford University, before she cofounded Lark Technologies in her mid 20’s, she ran her own global startup incubator called Clean Tech Open. She’s currently being mentored by Marvell Technology’s Weili Dai and, at her young age, is expected to continue contributing to the tech industry’s advancements.
4. Mary Barra
As the first woman to lead a Big 8 automaker, Mary Barra was put to the test during her first year as the CEO of General Motors – the world’s largest auto company – when she had to make the decision to announce a 30-million car recall due to faulty ignition switches in many of the General Motors car models. After successfully handling one of the motor industry’s biggest recalls, she currently leads 36,000 employees and is in charge of everything from the engineering and quality to the design of GM’s 11 worldwide automotive brands.
5. Arianna Huffington
The Huffington Post was originally cofounded by Arianna Huffington. She sold it to AOL in 2011 where it quickly became one of the Internet’s most popular news sources. The site even won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for national reporting. Since then she has written 14 books and has been working on launching her website in countries across the world, such as Italy and Spain. She has been recognized in multiple business and news magazines, such as in Time magazine’s "The 100 Most Influential People" list.
While these are some of the most successful women entrepreneurs, the world is filled with female business owners striving to leave their mark on their industries. As a woman trying to start your small business, looking to these female entrepreneurs for inspiration and tips will help get you motivated and excited about you company’s future.