There are more females in leadership positions today than at any other time in US history. The movement of women into business leadership is especially exciting. What sets the women who own and lead the fastest-growing businesses apart? To help answer this question, we profile three female entrepreneurs and give you pointers on how you can leverage small business loans for women to join the growing list of success stories. Barbara Corcoran In 1973, at age 22, Shark Tank star Barbara Corcoran left her job as a restaurant server and opened a small real estate office in New York City, using $1,000 she had borrowed from a boyfriend. This maven, who had failed at twenty-two jobs, slowly developed the tiny office into a $6 billion dollar business, using the unconventional lessons she had learned from her homemaker mom. Corcoran sold the business for $66 million in 2001 and has invested in more than 30 companies since Shark Tank has been on the air. In an interview with Entrepreneur Magazine, Corcoran said, “building a business is little more than a series of quick opportunities followed by a series of big obstacles. The opportunities arrive and leave so quickly that they’re way too easy to miss.” Success and failure are permanently connected, according to Corcoran, and she adds that the single most critical attribute all entrepreneurs need in order to thrive is the talent to fail well. Corcoran believes in being optimistic to the point that exceeds all logic, especially in the grueling initial stages of launching a business. She rates optimism as more important than intelligence for the budding entrepreneur. Corcoran doesn’t believe that a woman has to leave her day job in order to be successful: she says that many of her most successful entrepreneurs on Shark Tank turned their personal interests into businesses while holding down a full-time job. She gives the example of Cousins Maine Lobster, which started with two cousins selling lobster rolls part time from a food truck, and which now has 12 franchises. Sara Blakely Sara Blakely is the youngest self-made woman billionaire who turned her life around with her idea of producing a new line of flattering undergarments. She launched Spanx from her home in Los Angeles in August 2000: a company that is now worth over a billion dollars. The idea for Spanx came one day when she put on a pair of pants, but disliked how her rear end looked. She decided to wear a pair of control top pantyhose, with the feet cut off. The slender, graceful difference prompted Blakely to patent her own footless body shaping hose. Spanx now has 200 different types of slimming undergarments, ranging from swimwear to Mama Spanx and, most recently, Spanx for Men. Blakely marketed her invention using $5000 in personal savings until she found a factory willing to produce her footless hose. A major opportunity came in late 2000 when Oprah Winfrey highlighted Spanx on her popular nationally syndicated TV talk show. Sales rose steeply after this, and Blakely was able to swiftly build an empire. Lisa Price Brooklyn native Lisa Price was walking through Park Slope one afternoon when she found a book on essential oils. The knowledge she gleaned from this book led to her experimentation with different oils and creating fragrances and body lotions just for fun. When her mother, Carol, suggested that she bring some of her lotions to her church’s flea market, Lisa sold almost every jar. Price officially established Carol’s Daughter in August of 1994, with just a handful of steady customers. With a huge following from her website, mail order business, and walk-in traffic, Price relocated the store from her brownstone in 1999 to Brooklyn’s Fort Greene district. She lists celebrities such as Jada Pinkett-Smith, Jay-Z and Halle Berry as clients. Carol’s Daughter sells millions of dollars worth of products today, having launched a special collection in Target stores countrywide and on Target.com in March 2014 in addition to extending into select Walgreens in 2015. Price sold her company to L’Oreal in 2014. Price told NY Daily News, “I used to joke, ‘when I go on Oprah,’ or ‘when Oprah calls,’ and then it actually happened.” The company, which netted $27 million in sales in 2014, is hoping to attract more minority customers through its deal with L’Oreal. Following Their Lead None of these women had much startup capital, but they were all able to build successful companies. Imagine what you can do in 2016, with financing opportunities such as small business loans. Lendio provides a service that will match women (and men too) with the best loan for their business idea. This unique tool is helping hundreds of women save time and money as they pursue their dreams. How does Lendio work for women entrepreneurs? The simple four-part process allows you to: 1. View and compare the best financing opportunities for your business 2. Select the loan types you’re interested in 3. Complete one application and receive multiple offers from lenders 4. Get funded and see your dream become a reality Lendio gives female entrepreneurs access to alternative business loans, which can be a lifesaver if a woman is faced with a snap opportunity that requires quick financing. Prior to this, women had little choice but to approach banks for financing small projects. The typical waiting period for bank approval is 30-60 days, which meant that women had to forego certain opportunities. In a recent press release, Lendio’s founder and CEO said, “Lendio has become the go-to hub for small business owners to obtain the financing they need to grow and thrive.” He added that the platform’s focus is to provide three essential benefits to the business owner: to accelerate the process and lessen the time and effort it takes to get financed, to offer an extensive selection of loan options, and to provide a “white-glove trusted experience.” Lendio was responsible for $1.38 billion in loan approvals in 2012. The company estimates that 65,000 jobs were created as a result. The average loan is for $45,000-$50,000 – a doable figure for the average female entrepreneur. If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional financing, check out Lendio.com now to find the right match for you.