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22 Sep, 2013

American Express OPEN Launches CEO BootCamp for Women Entrepreneurs


NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–September 20, 2013  – Today, American Express OPEN, the small business division of American Express, announced OPEN for Women: CEO BootCamp, a first-of-its-kind program that teaches women entrepreneurs some of the fundamental pillars for successful ventures – confidence, competence and connections as recognized by a number of renowned experts in entrepreneurship.

According to the most recent State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express OPEN, between 2007 and 2013, at a time when the economy faced substantial headwinds, female entrepreneurs started businesses at a rate 150% higher than the national average, adding 175,000 jobs to the U.S. economy. CEO BootCamp is designed to build on these accomplishments by helping women become even better chief executive officers and unleash the full potential of their companies.

New Research Identifying Mindset Barriers Helps Shape National CEO BootCamp Program

To help shape the program, OPEN commissioned a national survey of female entrepreneurs to identify obstacles and opportunities facing women business owners. The American Express OPEN Mindset Survey shows that 41% of women entrepreneurs surveyed say that making the mental or personal commitment to grow is the most important trigger that could take their business to the next level. The research also found that only half of women surveyed (54%) consider themselves a success when asked about their business performance.

“Given our rich legacy in the women’s entrepreneurship space, and the existing need, the time is right to establish this program that speaks to the mindset of women entrepreneurs,” said Susan Sobbott, president, American Express OPEN. “CEO BootCamp can help women overcome obstacles that may be holding them back through highly focused programs on strategies for scaling their business and, in turn, increase the overall economic clout of women-owned businesses.”

CEO BootCamp works with leading academics, major advocacy organizations and a who’s who of visionaries on enhancing the power and potential of women entrepreneurs. The program is meant for all women entrepreneurs to help them hone their skills and address hurdles that can act as barriers to reaching their full potential, regardless of industry, size or revenue.

Participants in the program can benefit year-round as members of the free CEO BootCamp community by joining CEO BootCamp circles through the online community platform Mightybell.com. Here they can create or join circles to connect with others that share their same interests and passions. Through these circles, community members will have access to exclusive content as well as networking and mentoring opportunities. To learn more about the CEO BootCamp community on MightyBell go to openforum.com/ceobootcamp.

The program content, which was developed based on findings from the American Express OPEN Mindset Survey, will reinforce some of the fundamental pillars that lead to success. Specific themes include:

  • Leading so others can follow
    • Only 26% of women entrepreneurs rate themselves as excellent delegators and subsequently a majority of women entrepreneurs (70%) say they are hands-on leaders even though sharing responsibility might be beneficial
  • Harnessing the power of money
    • Just 39% of women say they are excellent in managing their finances/accounting
  • Learning to love the spotlight
    • Roughly a quarter of women entrepreneurs (27%) report positioning themselves as leaders in their industry in order to drive business to their business
  • Tackling tough decisions
    • Nearly half of women entrepreneurs (49%) say they are excellent decision makers; while only 26% say they are excellent negotiators
  • Establishing a path for growth
    • 53% of women entrepreneurs say they are motivated to make more money and 62% say they have clear growth targets and a budget plan to reach them
  • Broadening your network and building a board of advisors
    • 34% of women entrepreneurs rate their networking skills as fair/poor and the vast majority (85%) of women say they rarely/never seek business advice from a formal board

To reinforce these themes, American Express OPEN has developed a number of Insight Guides that will be used to deliver the CEO BootCamp curriculum to thousands of business owners across the country.

“I am pleased to learn of this new initiative to help prepare women chief executives around what we deem to be the three most necessary competencies of an effective business leader – confidence, competence and connections,” said Marsha Firestone, Ph.D., president and founder of the Women Presidents’ Organization. “Possessing the self-assurance and optimism to grow a business, combined with having a fine-tuned skill set and developed ability to network, equate to the most successful business outcomes.”

OPEN for Women: CEO BootCamp officially kicks off at an all-day summit today at the American Express Global Headquarters in New York City.

The event will feature a number of female business leaders and recognized industry experts including:

  • Charlotte Beers – Businesswoman and former Under Secretary of State
  • Gina Bianchini – CEO and Founder of MightyBell
  • Mika Brzezinski – Co-Host, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”
  • Tory Burch CEO, Tory Burch and President, Tory Burch Foundation
  • Robin Chase CEO, Buzzcar and Co-founder, Zipcar
  • Jean Chatzky Financial Editor, NBC’s “Today” Show
  • Melinda Emerson – Author and small business expert known as the SmallbizLady
  • Angie Hicks Co-founder and CMO, Angie’s List
  • Gayle Tzemach Lemmon – Author and Deputy Director, Council on Foreign Relations
  • Valerie Morris – Author and former CNN anchor
  • Mally Roncal – Founder and CEO of Mally Beauty
  • Julie Weeks – Founder and CEO of Womenable

All main stage sessions will be available to view at openforum.com/ceobootcamp.