Million-Dollar Baby

Looking to hit 7 figures and beyond? Learn from 3 women who are already there.
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This story appears in the August 2008 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

What does it take to grow your business into a million-dollar company--and beyond? We spoke with three women at different stages of business growth to find out their secrets.

"This company is my passion. I love what I do, and I love my boss," says Sandy Corso, 42, the founder and CEO of Peaceful Co. in Madison, Connecticut. The online retailer of eco-friendly and holistic products hit the $1 million mark last October and was one of the first to be awarded in OPEN from American Express and Count Me In's Make Mine a Million $ Business program.

Corso describes herself as "a dream-follower, relentless, a risk-taker and stubborn"--qualities that have contributed to her company's success. She also attributes her growth to changing consumer attitudes. "We're a socially responsible company, and consumers want to spend with companies that give back," she explains. Running a million-dollar business has changed Corso in positive ways, too. "I used to pack boxes in the warehouse if we were short-staffed," she says. "I know now my skills are best used on the front lines."

As her New York City-based eco-luxury fragrance and spa product company approaches $10 million in revenue this year, Yael Nina Alkalay, 39, says Red Flower is better managed and better structured. "We adhere to more long-term planning, take better advantage of technology and control more aspects of key operating systems, such as warehousing," she says. "I've become a better executer and more open to appropriate risk. I've never let go of my vision, intentions or perspective."

Patty Brisben, 53, is expecting her company, Loveland, Ohio-based Pure Romance, to top $100 million this year. Just eight years ago, when the direct-sales company hit $1 million, Brisben brought her eldest son, Chris Cicchinelli--now the 33-year-old president--into the business. Together, they developed a five-year plan for the company to expand into Midwest markets.

In 2006, Pure Romance exceeded $60 million in sales. "We began expanding and growing, not just in terms of revenue, but in terms of the company as a whole," Brisben recalls. She says some defining moments were developing her own proprietary line of products, launching a Health Education Department and starting a nonprofit, The Patty Brisben Foundation.

Says Brisben, "I've let go of the things I thought were important and focused on the things that make us money--namely, the things I love and that I'm the best at."

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Edition: May 2017

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