There are over 11 million women-owned businesses in the U.S.

And that number is growing dramatically each year. In fact, women-owned businesses are growing five times faster than the national average, and businesses owned by women of color have more than doubled since 2007.

As part of Constant Contact’s Small Biz Stories podcast, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with some incredible women who have overcome major challenges to grow successful businesses.

Whether you’re thinking about starting a business of your own, or you just need a little extra inspiration in your professional life, these tips will do the trick!

Here’s some advice from successful women entrepreneurs:

1. “Know your market. If you don’t know where your market is and what they want, you have no chance.” — Barbara Felix, owner of Felix the Cook

When Barbara started her custom-made sugar cookies business, she got the word out by donating her cookies to large charity events.

Barbara knew her target audience and where to reach them. Focusing on a specific market and delivering them an exceptional product and experience helped her grow an impressive client list, which includes Google Ventures, UPS, and The Four Seasons.

If you’re unsure of your market, the best thing you can do is start talking to your existing customers. Write up a list of questions and call three of your best customers to get answers. You can even send a quick poll to your email list to learn more about your audience’s interests on a larger scale.

Listen to Barbara’s full story here.

2. “It’s not going to happen overnight. Just be patient. Set short-term goals.” — Kellee Twadelle, owner Rose & Dove Specialty Gift Shop

Like many small business owners, Kellee left the corporate world to feel a greater sense of freedom, flexibility, and fulfillment. But throughout her years as an owner, there have been plenty of unexpected obstacles.

Kellee has had to change her store location, shift her business model, and manage major challenges during her husband’s motorcycle accident.

Kellee keeps her business going by taking small actions, including partnering with local businesses, sending her customers monthly marketing emails, and running timely events.

If you hit a rough patch at your business, don’t stress over your shifting five-year plan. Start every day by thinking about what small impactful action you can take to get things back on track.

Listen to Kellee’s full story here.

3. “You’ve got to follow your gut. What’s the worst that’s going to happen? You’re going to make a mistake?” — Dawn Noble, owner of La Provence

Once a loyal customer of French goods store, La Provence, Dawn bought the business over a decade ago. Starting without any business management experience, Dawn believes in the power of learning as you go.

Looking back, she knows she’s made some missteps along the way, but Dawn doesn’t let these mistakes slow her down.

When you find yourself second-guessing your decisions, ability, or strength, remember that doing something is almost always better than doing nothing. Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid of a little trial and error.

Listen to Dawn’s full story here.

4. “Make a commitment to education, to learning as much as you can, an ongoing education.” — Marie Mouradian, owner of Window Designs Etc.

With over 35 years of as a business owner, Marie knows the secret to success is to never get too comfortable.

Change is part of almost every industry — even window design treatments. Marie prides herself in embracing new trends and refusing to be intimidated by market shifts.

Marie gets involved by sitting on the board of her local Chamber of Commerce and always trying out new ways to get her business noticed in her community and online.

If you think your business is stuck in a rut, look for local workshops or networking events in your community where you can continue to learn new skills and make new connections.

Listen to Marie’s full story here.

5. “Don’t quit and don’t be afraid to flex.” — Traci Brown, Body Language Expert at Traci Brown Inc.

As an athlete turned business owner, Traci knows you’re not going to win every day. Sometimes you give it all you’ve got and still come up short.

But Traci’s refusal to give up has served her well. She’s landed a product deal with Shark Tank’s Kevin Harrington, appeared on major television networks, and spoken on keynote stages.

As an owner, remember that success might not look like you originally imagined. But if you don’t take a risk and go for it, you’ll never really know what you’re capable of.

Listen to Traci’s full story here.

Any other women-owned businesses out there?

Thank you for contributing your talents, chasing your passion, and inspiring others to do the same.

If you have any advice to add to our list, we’d love to hear it. Connect with us on social media – @ConstantContact – to keep the conversation going!