Open to Advice
Women entrepreneurs are roaring their way toward business success--and OPEN, the small-business team at American Express, is committed to helping them every step of the way. After starting the Women's Business Initiative in 2005, OPEN joined Count Me In to launch the Make Mine a Million $ Business program, giving women the technology, financing, marketing and mentoring solutions to grow their businesses to sales of $1 million or more. So far, more than 30,000 women have declared their intent to hit that mark.
Still, when surveys continue to suggest that male entrepreneurs focus more on growth than their female counterparts, it only inspires OPEN to spread the message more locally. "The program has grown and evolved to a point where we're ready to take it deep down into each of the states and embed it within each of the regional and local economies to help these women grow their businesses," says Michelle Thompson-Dolberry, director of advocacy marketing at OPEN. Events in Austin, Texas, and Madison, Wisconsin, were highlights in 2007, she notes. OPEN hopes to organize 2008 events in many other states, with support from politicians like Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, chairwoman of the National Governors Association.
From networking events to mentoring to providing informative articles on open.com/women, OPEN's priority is to help women at all stages of business. And for women in the early stages of business, the Make Mine a Million $ Business application process itself is a valuable tool. "[They're] getting involved in the application process because they want to be able to learn more about themselves and their business and figure out where they need to take it," says Thompson-Dolberry. "The feedback, the response and the level of involvement from the women in the business community have truly been amazing."