Hillary Clinton reminded the world a few years ago that "the future is female," but this inspirational quote actually dates back to the 1970s. As support grows for female entrepreneurs, female-owned companies are becoming more common.

Over the last few decades, female involvement in the business world has skyrocketed. In fact, the number of women-owned businesses has grown twice as fast as other businesses.

Today, there are approximately 13 million businesses owned by women. As female entrepreneurs continue making a splash in the business world, many goal-oriented individuals want to know: How do these women do it?

We’ve compiled some success stories about well-known female entrepreneurs to keep you motivated.

 

Hillary Clinton reminded the world a few years ago that “the future is female,” but this inspirational quote actually dates back to the 1970s. As support grows for female entrepreneurs, female-owned companies are becoming more common. Over the last few decades, female involvement in the business world has skyrocketed. In fact, the number of women-owned businesses has grown twice as fast as other businesses.

Today, there are approximately 13 million businesses owned by women. As female entrepreneurs continue making a splash in the business world, many goal-oriented individuals want to know: How do these women do it?

We’ve compiled some success stories about well-known female entrepreneurs to keep you motivated.

 

1. Oprah Winfrey, Billionaire Media Mogul

When someone mentions female entrepreneurs, Oprah Winfrey is often one of the first names that comes to mind. Oprah has been a media sensation since the mid-1970s, but her popularity skyrocketed after launching The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986. The show remained on air for over 15 years. Oprah had heartfelt conversations with many well-known celebrities about their triumphs and struggles during episodes, plus she helped everyday people find a welcoming platform.

A billionaire philanthropist, Oprah is known for giving back to others. Over the years, she has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to educational causes, Hurricane Katrina victims and African American organizations. When Oprah wasn’t busy co-authoring books, launching radio stations or acting in films, she taught students at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.

When it comes to success, Oprah reminds everyone about the importance of having confidence in yourself. “You don’t become what you want; you become what you believe,” says Oprah. She also encourages others to avoid toxic people, stating that you should “surround yourself only with people who are going to take you higher.”

2. Cindy MI, VIPKid Co-Founder and CEO

Education has always been important to Cindy Mi, the cofounder and CEO of VIPKid. Before launching VIPKid, Mi cofounded ABC English, which taught English language essentials to immigrants and refugees. However, there’s something surprising about Mi that many people don’t initially guess — she’s a high school dropout. Mi values education, but she feels like traditional institutions let her down. She doesn’t want other kids to have the same experience that ultimatley inspired her to cofound VIPKid.

VIPKid is a virtual learning platform that focuses on English language acquisition and is currently worth more than $4 billion. There are over 65,000 teachers who work with the school’s students. VIPKid has over 500,000 students in its online programs, and many of the learners are Chinese.

Mi isn’t just an entrepreneur with personal goals; she has big dreams for the world. She hopes that institutions such as VIPKid can help bridge cultural differences between English and Chinese speakers, along with the rest of the world. “I hope that through VIPKid, more children will grow up with a greater understanding of the world not just outside their door, but across continents,” Mi told Fortune during an interview. 

Despite Mi’s big goals and strong work ethic, she ran into some issues earlier in her career. She described some of her mistakes about starting an EdTech company in China during a Y Combinator podcast, explaining, “Number one, we tried to build out too much technology right at the beginning. Number two, we were not ready for fast growth.” She also said, “When one of our parents posted on Weibo about VIPKid, 2,000 people signed up in one day. It took us three months to handle all of those requests.” But Mi pulled through, and today she is one of the world’s most successful female entrepreneurs.

3. Zhou Qunfei, Lens Technology Founder and CEO

Dubbed the world’s richest self-made woman by Forbes in 2017, Chinese entrepreneur Zhou Qunfei has a net worth of more than $16 billion. Qunfei is the founder and CEO of Lens Technology, a glass manufacturer that produces phone screens for technology giants, such as Apple and Samsung.

Like VIPKid founder Cindy Mi, Qunfei is a high school dropout. When she was 16, she left school and became a worker at a factory that produced watch lenses. She was promoted to management and eventually started her own watch lens factory, which had approximately 1,000 employees. In 2003, Motorola reached out about a potential business relationship, and Qunfei’s company landed a hefty contract. 

Zhou Qunfei sold all of her valuable possessions, including her home, to make sure she had enough funds for production. Unfortunately, she couldn’t cover the expenses and went through a dark period in her life. Motorola helped with financial costs, and Qunfei went on to land several other big contracts, including one for Apple’s phone screens in 2007.

Zhou Qunfei shared these experiences and some of her entrepreneurial wisdom with readers of CNBC Make It. She has several suggestions for budding entrepreneurs and current business professionals, stating they must master a few key traits: “First, improve your overall competitiveness. Second, you must be mentally strong. Third, strengthen your understanding of the market and your competitors,” recommends Qunfei.

Even if you follow Qunfei’s advice, you may run into some snafus along the way. It’s important to keep going if that happens, she says. Qunfei explains, “Because when you give up halfway, you won’t have the courage to come back and start from the bottom all over again, you will still give up. Only when we persist can we succeed. Don’t give up because of a little setback.”

4. Sara Blakely, Spanx Founder

American businesswoman Sara Blakely took a common problem women face and transformed it into an essential product. Blakely, who founded the Spanx intimate apparel line, was tired of struggling with her pantyhose. She hated the way pantyhose looked in her open-toed shoes and wanted a product that worked the same magic, minus the annoying toe bulges. 

Spanx was born, and her company is now worth billions. However, Blakely didn’t have an overnight success story. She started her career doing door-to-door sales for Danka, a company in the fax industry. As her sales increased, Blakely gained the confidence to found her own company, Spanx. Now a self-made billionaire, Blakely has some inspiring advice for other entrepreneurs.

Sara Blakely encourages entrepreneurs to have a clear vision of what they want from life. “You’ve got to visualize where you’re headed and be very clear about it. Take a Polaroid picture of where you’re going to be in a few years,” says Blakely. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes — they build character. Blakeley shares, “My dad encouraged us to fail growing up. He would ask us what we failed at that week. If we didn’t have something, he would be disappointed. It changed my mindset at an early age that failure is not the outcome — failure is not trying. Don’t be afraid to fail.”

5. Reshma Saujani, Girls Who Code CEO and Founder

Men dominate STEM careers and hold nearly three out of four positions in this industry. Reshma Saujani, CEO and founder of Girls Who Code, is leveling the playing field for females. Launched in 2011, Girls Who Code helps close the technology sector’s notorious gender gap. The company offers after-school clubs for girls as young as in 3rd grade, summer immersion programs for high school students and college programs for budding technology greats. 

To date, more than 450,000 girls have benefited from the programs managed by Girls Who Code. The organization is on track to abolish the gender gap for entry-level technology careers by 2030, and there are over 8,500 programs available around the globe.

Saujani, who wrote the book Brave, Not Perfect, has some tips to help women stand out and embrace their true selves. “Being brave like women is about making choices based on what we want and what makes us happy, not what others expect or want for us,” says Saujani. She encourages women to actively pursue their goals rather than passively waiting for the perfect moment. “If you wait until everything lines up, it’s over,” Saujani warns.

Embrace Your Ambition With Help From Lendzi

At Lendzi, we love helping female entrepreneurs unleash their full potential. Big visions often require a financial investment, which is why we connect goal-driven women with many resources, such as startup loans, SBA loans, and business lines of credit.

We believe in your dreams, and we’re here to help you transform them into tangible business ventures. Reach out today to learn more about how Lendzi can help you fund your goals.

Ready to get started?

How much money do you need?