Calling Female Entrepreneurs

By Colleen DeBaise An organization that I’ve long admired, Make Mine a Million, has changed its format this year, aiming to help 1,000 women entrepreneurs grow their microbusinesses into million-dollar enterprises. I’ve followed Make Mine a Million since its inception, and the events I’ve attended have been inspiring, informative and even a little nerve-wracking. Watching female entrepreneurs painstakingly practice their elevator pitches – and then deliver them to live audiences – can be a nail biter. Here’s a story reporter Emily Maltby wrote on last year’s competition, which captures some of the heart-pounding moments. The contest is the brainchild of Nell Merlino, who helped start Take Our Daughters to Work Day, and was co-founded by her nonprofit, Count Me In, and American Express. Under the new format, a larger group of women than past years will compete for prizes, coaching and financing. At the first ”M3 1000″ event in Denver on April 4, 250 women will have the opportunity to deliver elevator pitches (in the past, it was usually 20 participants at each event). “We went with this format because we found the more people doing this together, the better,” Merlino says. Other events are planned for later this year in Philadelphia, New York and possibly other cities. Merlino has long held that women – to some extent – deliberately hold back on growing their businesses. Many think that by keeping the business small, they’ll have more time to spend with family. But that’s a mistake, she says, as the bigger your business is, the more you can delegate to employees and step back. Watch a video here on Merlino’s tips for “thinking big” and growing a business. Women entrepreneurs have until March 28 to apply for the Denver event, to be held at the Denver Marriott City Center. More details can be found here Follow Colleen DeBaise on Twitter at @colleendebaise.