Women-owned firms now account for nearly four in 10 U.S. businesses. They generate approximately $2.7 trillion in annual revenue. They employ more than 12.2 million workers. And since 2019, women-owned businesses have multiplied at almost double the rate of those owned by men. 

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That’s not just me bragging. That’s according to The 2024 Impact of Women-Owned Businesses Report. Produced by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), Ventureneer, and CoreWoman, the report also suggests that the potential impact of women-owned businesses could be even greater if the gaps between women of color and white-women-owned businesses, as well as between women and men, were closed. This report, first published in January and commissioned by Wells Fargo, unpacks data to determine what barriers women – particularly women of color – face.

Over my 20-year financial services career, I have witnessed this sea change of women leaders in the U.S. economy and have identified key traits of the most-successful. Regardless of economic cycle or the nature of their businesses, I find these four habits consistently help women leaders navigate challenges and position their companies for success: 

  1. Connection: Strong professional and personal relationships are key. Making connections and building a solid personal and professional network increases confidence in seeking advice and counsel, as well as better enabling women leaders to navigate changing markets and global competition.

Tip: During both robust and challenging economies, women can leverage their relationship-building skills to expand their networks further and develop stronger roots for their business.

  1. Capacity: Managing the wide range of responsibilities in today’s environment is challenging, especially when it comes to managing both work and family. While society has come a long way in supporting more balance in shared responsibilities of family and home with partners, women often continue to take on a disproportionate share of the load. In fact, women continue to take on many additional responsibilities in their professional and personal lives, including community organizations and involvement with their children’s schools. But unless capacity and balance are respected, they’ll risk their long-term success.

Tip: Develop your team, build trust, and delegate during tough times. Don’t try to do it all yourself.

  1. Collaboration: Women leaders tend to collaborate and build a culture of partnership. This approach of working together builds an all-inclusive culture, allowing different perspectives to be heard and creating a valued, high-performing team. This environment nurtures development of new ideas and approaches to issues and challenges. 

Tip: Find a voice outside your circle to challenge your thought process; you might discover a new perspective or better approach.

  1. Communication: Communicating effectively and sharing vision and strategy are among the most-critical paths to success of any organization – and often overlooked. Successful women business leaders exhibit skill in adapting their communication style to situation and audience, leading to more-effective conversations. 

Tip: Communication during critical business times is key. Reach out to your stakeholders and share your voice directly.

While the economic landscape continues to evolve, women business leaders need to demonstrate confidence, enlisting trusted allies as they build their businesses. Challenging and dynamic times require leadership that builds and shapes a successful team. These four C’s of leadership are integral to success. 

Author: Megan Ackaert is Wells Fargo’s Commercial Banking market leader serving Arizona. Megan and her team partner with public and privately held companies to provide financial solutions. Visit Wells Fargo Stories to see women customers’ success stories from McDonald’s franchisees, Pioneer LinensMedical Transportation Management, and others.