News we love: The number of female business owners in America is on the rise. Data from The Status of Women in the States shows that not only has the percentage of businesses owned by women grown 26 percent in the last 20 years, but the number of female-owned firms has grown 68 percent in the last decade — outpacing the 47 percent growth rate for businesses on a whole. So whether you’re passionate about starting a fro-yo shop, subscription box brand or pencil company, taking the steps to own your own small business is the ultimate way to make your professional dreams come to life while defining success in the way that’s most meaningful for YOU. In honor of the upcoming Small Business Saturday, we chatted with nine small biz owning #girlbosses who told us what they love most about their work. Scroll on to be super inspired!

Following Your Passion

The stylish and super savvy business woman behind Margaret Elizabeth, Meg Shackleton says, “I love running my own business because it allows me to do what I’m passionate about every day. I feel so grateful that I’m able to design jewelry that makes women feel empowered and beautiful. It’s amazing to know that our pieces are often gifted for special occasions or to commemorate an exciting time. Being a small part of people’s lives is really special.”

Melinda Jones, the founder and creative director at Dallas-based Read Between the Lines gushes, “I’ve always been crazy for great greeting cards, as the right words on paper can transform someone’s day. In 2010, I started a blog. It was the first time I’d received feedback on my writing from complete strangers, and it was invigorating. I found my voice. Read Between the Lines is where I get to say what’s on my mind, with love and humor.” She goes on, “When someone hangs one of our art prints in their baby’s nursery or uses it to propose marriage — I’m a melty mess of happiness. It’s an epic honor to write expressions that play a role in people’s finest moments, and one I will still be grateful for when I’m 80 years old.”

Never Ending Opportunities To Evolve

Olivia Colt, the owner of Salt & Honey Catering, says, “What I love most about my business is that it’s always evolving. I started catering as a way to connect with myself and turn my passion into my profession. By throwing myself into Salt & Honey, I was able to discover other facets of my personality and the depth of my drive. As my business has evolved, grown and changed, I now love it for so many other reasons. Now, I love the challenge of being a boss. I never pictured myself as an “employer,” but now that I am, it is one of the aspects of my job that I adore.”

As if a boss who loves her team isn’t awesome enough, Olivia tells us, “Providing jobs, education and training to people in my community gives me a sense of accountability and pride. To mentor other women in my field has been so rewarding, whether it’s women entering a professional kitchen for the first time or those just starting hospitality careers who are learning how to plan, sell or execute an event. I derive so much joy from being part of their journeys, empowering them, lifting them up and being a role model,” she says. We’re totally inspired.

Inspiring Others With Creativity

“What I love most about owning a small business is that each project is as distinct as the individual/s that I work with, be it for a single client, a family or partners in a business,” Brynne Rinderknecht, the designer and force behind From the Inside shares. “I enjoy being a conduit in revealing their story and ideas and connecting that life to their surroundings of their home or business.”

When it comes to her work, she finds motivation in the meaning behind how she spends each day. She spills, “I want the things around people to mean something to them. If I’m helping a client select a piece of art, I want them to feel it for themselves before buying it into their home. If I’m guiding a client in selecting a chair, I want it to be something that makes sense for their lifestyle and educate them on fantastic vintage pieces that can be reupholstered or more eco-friendly choices available. Most of what I actually do is help people tap into their own creativity that sometimes they never know they had. I believe that we are all creative beings when we give ourselves the opportunity and explore the space of the present moment — to listen to our inner voices.”

Work Variety and Amazing Life Balance

Hannah Sowd opened the doors of Hannah Sowd Skin Care after eight years leading the skin care department (and treating Hollywood clientele!) at The Spa at The Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. “I love the daily variety of life as a small business owner in San Francisco,” she says. “Since I opened Hannah Sowd Skin Care in 2009, my day-to-day routine is never the same. One day I might spend a few hours working with my web developer, while the next I’ll be in the treatment room with clients. The variety allows more freedom than a typical office job and ultimately helps me achieve a healthy work/life balance.”

Being Part of a Brilliant and Supportive Network

Sophie Fader handcrafts ethical engagement rings through her company S.Kind & Co. in New York City — with her best friend. She shares, “I find that owning your own business feels like you’re never an island. I co-own my business with my best friend, and we work with a number of incredibly talented people who also own their own businesses. It’s amazing to get to support all of these other businesses who are trying to achieve the same things we are, and to be supported right back by them.”

Sophie also praises other women in business, “A lot of the other boss ladies and girlbosses out there really have each other’s backs. We’ve gotten so much support from the ladies of Erica Weiner and Doyle & Doyle, not to mention my sister (Mommy Poppins), who is my business guru.”

Becoming Confident Enough to Totally Own Doing What You Love

Julie Shipley owns the Soup Shop in Melbourne, Florida. She started making soup for local restaurants and now has her own retail location (and ships nationwide!).

“I started my business seven years ago, making a couple dozen gallons of soup a week, and now I make thousands,” she tells us. “Owning my own business has taken me to a level of accomplishment and confidence that I haven’t reached before. It has allowed me to bring employees into the folds that are growing with me. We brainstorm together. We write procedures together. We create marketing plans together. It will never get old.”

Constantly Meeting New People

“I love owning a small business for basically every reason possible,” Jordan Dollard from the Charlotte-based Elsa Fine boutique tells us. “I thrive on the stress and worries (although, let’s be honest, we could all do without those), I relish in the moments where I get to help a woman feel confident in a style or look that I’ve curated for her, and I just plain love being able to help small businesses find their place within our community.”

When we asked about the best thing of all, Jordan says, “I think the one thing that really is my favorite is just meeting new people. Getting to network, attend events, have new people walk into my shop or connect over email, it’s always a chance to change their lives — or have them change mine.” Awww.

Working Exactly When and How You Want To

Nicole Bandklayder from The Cookie Cups, a brand new dessert launching in Minneapolis, MN, adores the flexibility that comes with being a small biz owner. “I love the fact that I can make my own schedule. This definitely doesn’t mean I work less — but it does mean I can work on a project at midnight or from my kitchen in my pajamas if I want to.”

Her freedom also means she has full control on who to pair up or collab with. “I also get to choose who I work with, from employees, outside partnerships, events and vendors,” Nicole says proudly. “This is great because if I like someone, we can work together on a long-term basis. If it turns out that we just don’t mesh well, it’s okay to say goodbye.” How’s that for banishing bad coworkers?

Do you dream about starting your own biz? Tell us what you’d love to offer on Twitter @BritandCo!

(Featured photos via Margaret Elizabeth, h/t The Atlantic)