How She Does It: How Women Entrepreneurs Are Changing the Rules of Business Success

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Redefining power and the nature of success for the 21st century.

The numbers are staggering. Between 1997 and 2004, privately held, women-owned businesses grew at three times the rate of all American privately held firms; women's companies are creating jobs at twice the rate of all firms; women's companies are growing profits faster than all firms. Five-time CEO and contributor to Real Business and Fast Company Margaret Heffernan asks, Why are ...

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Overview

Redefining power and the nature of success for the 21st century.

The numbers are staggering. Between 1997 and 2004, privately held, women-owned businesses grew at three times the rate of all American privately held firms; women's companies are creating jobs at twice the rate of all firms; women's companies are growing profits faster than all firms. Five-time CEO and contributor to Real Business and Fast Company Margaret Heffernan asks, Why are these women so successful?

In How She Does It, Heffernan finds a striking congruence between the things that women excel at and the demands of the new economy. After interviewing hundreds of women running businesses of all sizes and in all markets, she discovers a few attributes that hold true across the board. Women have a tremendous need to achieve. Women don't feel they have a safety net or can turn back. They are smart about markets and timing. They practice diversity. They place values at the heart of their business and take culture very seriously. And women work from a different concept of power than men. The result is a unique style of leadership that challenges conventional wisdom: Soft skills are getting hard results. This is an inspiring workplace manifesto that reveals a new standard of excellence, a new way for any company to get from good to great that is fast becoming the new norm.

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Editorial Reviews

USA Today
Illuminates the strengths of female-run companies. Will cause light bulbs to go off over the corporate world. (USA Today)
Publishers Weekly
Women-run companies are more likely to stay in business than the average U.S. firm, to grow at three times the average rate, create jobs at twice the average rate and produce profits faster, according to former CEO and BBC producer Heffernan. To find out how and why, she interviewed hundreds of women business owners. Although the way her results confirmed stereotypes about gender differences made her queasy, it turned out that women business owners typically possess the characteristics experts think are needed in 21st-century businesses: combining "discipline, focus, detachment, and systematic thinking with playfulness, empathy, and design." She found that many women started their own businesses after working for corporations that didn't respect or listen to them. In charge of their own companies, their abilities to assert their values, nurture their employees and customers, "orchestrate" rather than "command and control," emphasize collaboration rather than competition, stay open to change, ask for help, learn from mistakes and make time for family became a formula for success. Heffernan's tone matches the frenetic pace and idealistic underpinnings of her interviewees' packed lives. Although aspiring entrepreneurs may wish for more specific details, this book inspires hope for a holistic alternative to the profits-only mentality. (Jan. 22) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A woman who has been the CEO of six companies, Heffernan is an unusual breed, but here she argues that she's not that unusual. Women represent the fastest-growing segment of the entrepreneurial population, starting and growing businesses of all kinds. As Heffernan gives facts and figures (e.g., more women attend college now than men) along with plenty of success stories, this book is as much a preview of the future of business as it is a pep talk for women. Most books on business entrepreneurship can be divided into two types: those directed toward anyone wanting to start a business (e.g., Wes Moss's Starting from Scratch or Guy Kawasaki's Art of the Start, a kind of handbook on bringing new ideas to life) and those that focus on women. In this context, Heffernan's is a solid work that adds another dimension to the business library. Most of what it presents we already know: women shop more often and are in tune with trends; they have fresh ideas, communicate more, and are willing to take more risks. But the book also argues compellingly that many women are driven to become entrepreneurs because those in power in corporate America-that is, men-shut them out. Consequently, this book could work in women's studies collections as well as business collections.-Stephen E. Turner, Turner & Assocs., San Francisco Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670038237
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/18/2007
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret Heffernan has been the CEO of five different businesses in the United States and the UK. A former producer for the BBC and author of The Naked Truth: A Working Woman's Manifesto on Business and What Really Matters, she is a regular contributor to Real Business and Fast Company magazine.

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Table of Contents


Introduction     ix
Fire in the Belly, Skin in the Game
The Need to Achieve     3
Zeitgeist     16
Niche Is Nice (and Margins Are Marvelous)     33
It Ain't What We Do, It's the Way That We Do It
The Value of Values     47
The Power of People     70
Leadership as Orchestration     93
Customer Love     114
Improvisation     131
Help!     147
Staying Power     161
Money Isn't Everything     175
The Only Failure Is Not to Try
M & A: Marriage and Acclimatization     197
Birth of a Saleswoman     212
The New Norm     233
Appendix     241
Notes     249
Bibliography     257
Acknowledgments     261
Index     267
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2007

    Great for female entrepreneurs - even better for male entrepreneurs to read!!

    I have always loved Margaret Heffernan's column in Fast Company and, true to form, her books also deliver observations and insights you wouldn¿t get from anyone else. As someone who has built and sold several companies of her own, as well as run large businesses within a corporate environment, she really has done it all. One of her gifts is pointing out how corporations can learn from some practices in the small business arena, and vice versa. In this latest book, Heffernan illuminates new ways of succeeding by looking at specifically how women entrepreneurs create and build companies. But don¿t be deceived into thinking this is just a book for women to read. On the contrary. As with the corporate/entrepreneur learning exchange, her book makes clear that there are a lot of practices that women entrepreneurs gravitate to that could make many men entrepreneurs more successful as well. In truth, male readers may get even more out of reading this book than female readers, simply because it¿s more likely that many of these techniques and behaviors are things they may not have thought of on their own. As a woman business owner myself, I found numerous observations and insights helpful in identifying issues that haven¿t yet arisen in my business, and providing solutions that hadn¿t yet occurred to me. If you¿re looking for ideas on how to address the many complexities of entrepreneurial life, this is a great book for you.

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