“Shoot a little higher. Push yourself. If you feel like you’re hitting a ceiling some place, take the risk to go to another place,” says Mandy Ginsberg, CEO of the Match Group. The surge of women entrepreneurs in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas shows women are doing exactly that.
A January 2019 report by Fit Small Business ranked Texas number one in all 50 states for business opportunities for women. The state of Texas has quickly become a hub for women-owned businesses. Take a look at why Texas has risen in popularity for women entrepreneurs, and meet some of Dallas-Fort Worth’s brightest stars.
Women-owned businesses are on the rise
The 2018 State of Women-Owned Business Report by American Express found that the number of women-owned business is swiftly increasing. In-depth analysis over the past decade showed that overall growth in women-owned businesses continually increased. In fact, the number of women-owned businesses surged 58 percent, while all businesses only rose 12 percent.
The American Express report noted that job-creating women-owned businesses flourished in states and cities not traditionally thought of as entrepreneurial hubs. The Lone Star State may not be the first place you imagine women entrepreneurs will thrive. Maybe you’re hoping to jump start your business. Or you simply want to help other women building theirs. Look to Dallas-Fort Worth.
Why is Dallas-Fort Worth a premier environment for women entrepreneurs?
Texas is a hotbed of activity for women in business. Nicole Mossman, founder of Dallas-based digital design company EverThread, believes that starting a business in Dallas gave her an edge. “The thing I’ve noticed is that the entrepreneur community here really embraces local entrepreneurs,” she said. “If you have a question or need help in whatever way, you can gain access to resources.”
A wealth of local resources for women
Some incredible resources exist for women entrepreneurs in Dallas-Fort Worth. One is the Center for Women Entrepreneurs at Texas Woman’s University. The Center provides training, funding, business advising and networking opportunities for prospective business owners and students.
Another is the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. NAWBO propels “women business owners into greater economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide.”
The not-for-profit Dallas Entrepreneur Center (The DEC) is another important resource. The DEC drives innovation and economic impact by helping entrepreneurs start, build and grow their businesses.
Another group with a chapter in North Texas is Golden Seeds. Golden Seeds is a national organization of angel investors that only funds women-owned firms. Their mission, to “focus on women leaders, creating lasting impact,” provides both kinship and financial support. Establishing spaces where women in business can interact, share strategy and build both their companies and community is essential for success.
The Center for an Urban Future Breaking Through report states that women founders of all ages, races and ethnicities are creating jobs, bolstering economies, strengthening families and neighborhoods, and providing new and creative solutions to modern-day problems. Likewise, this holds true for women entrepreneurs in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas.
Local resources provide mentorship and advocacy. The wave of women starting businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area encourages others to do the same. Above all, this foundation of welcoming entrepreneurial culture creates an inspired business environment.
No corporate or income taxes
They say everything’s bigger in Texas, but thankfully, that’s not the case with income taxes. Texas has no state income tax or estate taxes. Not worrying about income taxes leaves entrepreneurs with more funds to get their companies off the ground. This leads to a higher rate of startup growth and more chances for new businesses to succeed.
Low cost of living
Sperling’s Best Places calculates cost of living based on a US average of 100. The website puts Texas at 101.8, just over the national average. Without crippling costs of living sucking away income and valuable startup cash, entrepreneurs can build business for less.
The one-two punch of low cost of living and competitive wages draws talent. This is a key element for any entrepreneur hoping to attract employees. In short: a lower cost of living translates into lower costs for real estate, salaries, and benefits.
Who’s running some of the top women-owned businesses in DFW?
These four businesswomen and women entrepreneurs in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas are leading companies or creating their own. Moreover, they’re inspiring other women to do the same.
1. Nina Vaca, founder and CEO of the Pinnacle Group
Nina Vaca is a trailblazing businesswoman. She told Lean In, “As the third of five children born to Ecuadorian immigrants, I embraced my parents’ vision of the American dream: to create a better life through entrepreneurship.” In 1996, two years after graduating from Texas State University, Vaca founded Pinnacle, an IT workforce solutions company.
Under her leadership, Pinnacle has thrived. Vaca started Pinnacle with just $300. In 2017, the company’s annual revenue topped $2.1 billion. In 2018, Women Presidents’ Organization named Pinnacle the No. 1 fastest growing women-owned/led business in the United States.
When asked what advice she would give to women entrepreneurs, Vaca said, “Make sure you’re surrounding yourself with people who truly want to see you succeed. It is so powerful where you spend your time and with whom you spend your time.”
Come hear more from Nina Vaca at The Riveter Summit in New York City in November!
2. Mandy Ginsberg, CEO, Match Group
Mandy Ginsberg credits her family — especially her father, a first-generation immigrant — for instilling in her the bold spirit required to thrive as a woman in business. Today, Ginsberg helms the Match Group, which employs over 1,400 people. In 2018, the Match Group generated more than $1.7 billion in revenue.
Equality for girls and women is Ginsberg’s passion. In 2018, Ginsberg spearheaded an audit of the entire company to ensure equal pay across the board. As a result of the audit, Match Group has achieved 100 percent pay equity. Moreover, Match has committed to annual pay audits to address ongoing equity issues.
Additionally, Ginsberg instituted a system of pay raises without employees having to negotiate. Ginsberg said, “One of my guiding principles as a leader has always been rewarding employees based on their impact on the organization, whether they ask for it or not. So often and in so many businesses, women don’t make compensation demands. And until we raise our daughters to make those demands, we, as leaders, need to be proactive and methodical about how we think about compensation. I’m so proud that our organization can lead by example.”
3. Gail Warrior, president and CEO, Warrior Group
After working in corporate America for Mobil Oil, Dallas native Gail Warrior noticed there weren’t any companies specializing in building permanent modular construction. So she built her own. In 1997, Warrior started a construction-management business in a male-dominated industry. Since then, Warrior Group has grown to one of the largest woman-and minority-owned construction services companies in the United States. The construction company brings in more than $150 million a year.
After conquering the construction business, Warrior evolved her empire. Currently, she is pursuing her dreams of “showing others how to live a successful, healthy, happy lifestyle” through Warrior Elements and the Warrior360Way program.
In addition to her lifestyle brand, Warrior founded Heart of a Warrior Charitable Foundation (HOAW), a public nonprofit providing enrichment opportunities for underserved children in Dallas County. She also launched the Warrior Women’s Mentoring group. The group meets once a month to help empower women in business.
Warrior also aims to hire other women for senior level positions within her own company. As she told The New York Times: “I really like to support women. The guys are going to take care of the guys. So, if I can help women, why not?”
4. Nicole Mossman, founder and CEO, EverThread
When Nicole Mossman decided to start her own company, she sought out some of the many resources available to women entrepreneurs in Dallas-Fort Worth: education and mentorship. She went to graduate school for a master’s degree in innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Texas at Dallas. While there, she enrolled in the Startup Launch Track program. The $25,000 grant from UTD enabled Mossman to launch EverThread.
Mossman’s advice to other women starting their own businesses, especially in technology? “You have to make sure you’re being recognized as having a clear vision for the organization and having a viable product and being taken seriously. You just have to up your game.”
Continue to champion women entrepreneurs
Mandy Ginsberg knows it’s important to celebrate women leaders: “Culture gets influenced by the top. Having strong women in leadership roles attracts other women. The female perspective and making sure we continue to foster support does have an impact.”
Beginning and running a business is incredibly hard. Women elevating one another in their work and in life breeds more success overall. So how do you best uplift women in business? Jennifer Saenz, chief marketing officer at Frito-Lay (based in Dallas) notes, “Mentoring and making sure that women are helping other women out there see their way to leadership is incredibly important.”
Dallas-Fort Worth has established a welcoming culture for women in business. Continue backing your local women entrepreneurs in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas — and beyond.
Hannah Fairbanks is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. When she’s not writing, you might find her reading, packing bento box lunches for her two young daughters, and adventuring around the Bay Area.