Capital is pivotal for the success of any entrepreneur to launch a sustainable and lucrative business. Traditional routes of access to capital are changing as technological development creates new avenues and the distance between entrepreneur and investor decreases due to an increase in fast and efficient communication.
Women entrepreneurs have notoriously faced hardships in gaining access to capital, from lack of information and resources and local and state government assistance, to facing cultural biases from investors. Without adequate capital, women cannot make their creative ideas a reality, nor can they afford to maintain the businesses that provide jobs for a significant portion of the population.
U.S. Census Bureau data reveals that women own 36 percent of privately-held businesses and contribute $3 trillion to the economy due to job creation—creating 16 percent of jobs in the nation. As more women become their own bosses, they compose a larger share of small businesses, of which 80 percent have no employees other than the owner. In 2013, there were 28.8 million small businesses in the U.S.
Traditional means of gaining access to capital, which typically involved a long and cost-intensive process, are being expanded with online options, which provide smaller loan amounts faster and at lower costs.
Here are some new, innovative tools for women entrepreneurs seeking financing:
Crowdfunding Crowdfunding is an efficient way to gain capital from many individuals through small donations, and is low risk compared to venture angels and banks. A 2015 Massolution report estimates that $17.2 billion was invested in North America through crowdfunding websites, a number that’s increasing each year. Top crowdfunding platforms include Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe, CircleUp, Patreon, Crowdrise, Razoo, AngelList, and many more.
Gender Lens Investment According to Veris Wealth Partners, investment of this type has risen 41 percent in the past year, up to $910 million. In addition, the number of mandated publicly traded gender lens investment strategies has reached a total of 22, after five years of steady growth. This is an incredible increase from 1993 to 2012, when there were only five strategies for gender lens investing.
Online Lending Tools An emerging means for access to capital for small businesses in particular are online lending tools. The 2017 Kauffman Foundation report states that many businesses are in need of funds to manage cash flow and to access short-term financing, and the most commonly used tools are loans and lines of credit. Fintech companies like OnDeck and Kabbage are facilitating small businesses’ access to credit in online lending by providing fast online vetting for small business loans, utilizing personal data and credit scores.
Whether they decide to leverage crowdfunding, merchant cash advances or sector-focused angel syndicates like gender lens investment, women entrepreneurs in need of funds for their startup—or capital for their business—have new tools at their disposal.
Commentary by Desiree Patno
Originally post on RISMedia
Desirée Patno is the CEO and president of Women in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) and Desirée Patno Enterprises, Inc. (DPE), as well as chairwoman of NAWRB’s Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council (NDILC). With 30 years of experience in housing, Patno is a champion for women’s economic growth and independence. In 2017, Entrepreneur.com named her the Highest-Ranking Woman and 4th Overall Top Real Estate Influencer to Follow. For more information, please visit www.nawrb.co
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, What Women Artists Knew About Work, Mason Currey cites Harriet Beecher Stowe’s (“Uncle Tom’s Cabin”) letter to her sister-in-law with these words…
“Since I began this note, I have been called off at least a dozen times – once for the fish-man to buy a codfish – once to see a man who had brought me some baskets of apples – once to see a bookman… then to nurse the baby –then into the kitchen to make a chowder for dinner and now I am at it again, for nothing but deadly determination enables me to ever write – it is rowing against wind and tide.”
As I sit at my desk and computer hashing it out with a multitude of to-do’s nipping at my feet, I feel very close to Harriet. It requires determination and sheer work to find the time to read, think, research and write but I am compelled to do so by the pounding drum within me.
Finding time to create was difficult for many women throughout history. In many ways we have it easier today but media distractions can be one of our fiercest opponents. Technological advancements have disrupted and loaded our lives with interruptions and the one highest on the list is the smartphone in our hands. Its unrelenting grasp hooks us. We often get blindly swept away following social media, watching YouTube or are mesmerized by video games.
Women of the past had multiple distractions since so many worked from home. Most were solo entrepreneurs who produced in their own creative spaces. They had to learn to discipline themselves and learn business skills on their own.
The entrepreneurial spirit continues today. According to a 2017 survey by Remote.co, 28% of women who work remotely are CEO’s and leaders of their own companies compared to 5.2% of women working in S&P 500 companies and 6.4% of women in Fortune 500 companies. Interestingly, 90% of women surveyed chose to work remotely because of the barriers they felt from men in top leadership positions. Another reason was the inability to be a family caregiver due to conflicts in the workplace. The New York Times reported in 2017 that “half or more of the women who earn an M.B.A. that year would drop out of the full-time workforce within a decade.”
I had several distractions, including children, before I was able to fully pursue my first passion: theatrical acting. The balance of work and home responsibilities often continues to deter women from pursuing artistic and business endeavors. However, my dad, a basketball coach, often inspired me with these words from his mentor, former UCLA coach John Wooden, “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” My dad taught me to be persistent and not to be deterred by interruptions. My heavenly Father has also taught me that when you are pursuing what you are called to do by God, interruptions won’t deter you either.
Completing a project of any kind may have momentary interruptions, many of which can’t be controlled. Some may only last moments and others, years. But one thing I have discovered is that there is real joy and contentment when you are in the zone of creative work doing what God’s called you to do. When you are in the middle of where He wants you, it doesn’t matter if it gets difficult. You’d do it again and again because it breathes life into your soul. It allows you to communicate with God fully.
At the end of editing my devotional, Hope 4 Today: Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture, I was given a 24-hour deadline by the publisher due to printing issues to complete the final draft. I was forced to stay up and work all night, shoving all other responsibilities aside. Surprisingly, the time flew by. I found myself energized within the sleepiness because I was driven to submit a manuscript that I felt had been inspired by God.
Headwinds can never deter those who are “called according to His purposes.” (See Romans 8:28.)
There are times that your life changes suddenly. At those time I feel like my stomach kisses my backbone and my hands start itching and aching like crazy! I can still remember my life going into total upheaval mode when I was told unceremoniously by my boss 4 years almost to the day that I’d been hired at my job, “I’m sorry, but you’re fired!”
A few days ago, those same feelings came rushing back at me like an avalanche as I sat in Starbucks drinking my favorite coffee, scrolling through my iPhone, when Jennifer Lopez’s new film, which is coming out this Holiday Season, came up on my news feed. It looks hysterically funny (that’s code for I can’t wait to see it!), because as a women, now in hermid-50s, that moment in 2006 when I was 42, utterly changed my life! I still wince from the financial aftermath — the sting of losing my job — remembering it so clearly as if it were yesterday, because it was the start of a Herculean uphill financial battle that lasted many years!
Check out the trailer below and see if it doesn’t resonate with you:
Getting back to my story. Apparently the Executive Board had lost their contract, so, through no fault of my own, I was laid off! As most people do after a job lay off, you start marketing yourself furiously so that you can get another job — any job to pay the bills, especially if you live in Forest Hills, Queens (NYC) where I lived at the time, and where my rent for my 2 Bedroom apartment was over $2800 a month!
I’m a “glass is half full kind of gal”, so to tell you the truth, I was actually kind of excited and hopeful about the prospect of finding something new. As I have a Masters from Columbia University which I’d earned only 7 years previous to that time period in my life, I figured that it would take me no more than 3-6 months to find another position.
Sister… How wrong I was!
To this date… I have NEVER been able to get another permanent full-time job with benefits! I physically have documented that since 2006, I have sent out well over 2500 resumes to employers for positions for which I am absolutely qualified. I was interviewed several times for high level positions in NYC and even called back for additional follow-up interviews at several companies – a few up to 5 times! But every single time I was informed a few weeks later, that they’d hired someone else for the job via a letter like this…
You get the drift!
The ultimate humiliation came when I was told “off the record” by a well meaning head hunter, that my problem was that those hiring want to hire people younger than me, because I reminded them of … wait for it… their “Mom” as I was now 46!
Can you just image being told that!?!
It took me a long while, but I finally woke up and realized a truth.
The only way to guarantee income into my household, was to be in business for myself!
So after much prayer, reflection, research and re-education (I call it PrR&R), I bootstrapped my own business and I vowed to make three essential changes to my life.
Change #1: Develop A Positive Mental Attitude Reading Regimen
Change #2: Hang With and Listen to Successful Business Owners
Additionally, as I build my business I know that the more I listen to successful people who’ve built fantastic businesses of their own, the better I become at my business. I listen to podcasts like The Big Shift, The Marie Forleo Podcast, Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations, and She Did It Her Way because I need the inspiration to keep on keeping on! Additionally, I schedule into my calendar, local, regional and national meetings and conferences to go to, where I can meet successful people and associate with them. This way I can model their success habits into my own business.
Change #3: Focus on the Spiritual
Lastly I started focusing more on the spiritual needs of my life by becoming more grateful and thankful. I remember when this epiphany occurred. I was sitting in my basement apartment in Santa Monica. I had just moved there, I had no money in the bank, and I had no job. Real inspirational success story there, right?! What’s crazy is that I woke up and I heard God, speak to my heart and I realized that though I had nothing in the bank, I had a roof over my head, food in my belly (not one day did I go hungry) and clothes on my back – and stylish clothing at that! Though I had no job lined up, I had hope and good prospects that some how or some way soon, He would provide for me. I started saying to friends – tongue in cheek, “God is letting me ‘suffer’ in style while living in Santa Monica” – which is one of the most expensive areas of the country to call home!
As I continue to build my business – now in my hometown of Dallas, Texas (that’s a whole other story for another time!) – I have come to realize that I am not alone as a middle aged female business owner. According to New York Times writer Kerry Hannon’s 10/3/2017 Article, which is absolutely worth a read, check it out HERE, “in 2016, there were an estimated 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States — a 45 percent increase since 2007, according to the 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report from American Express.” The article goes on to state,…
“Female entrepreneurs, particularly those over age 50, are igniting intergenerational entrepreneurship partnerships and collaborations among women of all ages,” said Elizabeth Isele, founder and chief executive of the Global Institute for Experienced Entrepreneurship. “Intergenerational partnerships between women dispel age-related stereotypes and build strong bonds across age, race and ethnicity in our increasingly diverse workplaces,” Ms. Isele said.”
If you fit into this demographic – being a a women who wants to start your own business and you’re in your 2nd or even 3rd chapter of life being in your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s or even 70’s – take a minute to ask yourself and answer these 3 questions:
When you were a young girl, lying in your backyard looking up at the stars in the sky, did you imaging living the way you are living now?
Is your Income Circle as large as your Dream Circle?
Can you honestly state that you are happy and financially secure with where you are in life at this stage of life?
I believe that all Women Over 40, 50, 60 or even 70 need a second chance because 9 times out of 10, most of us did not “get it right” in our 20s and 30s and we aren’t necessarily where we dreamed we’d be at this age.
If all your answers are YES to the questions above… then “Hooray for you!!!! You got it right in your 20s and 30s!!” But I bet, 90% of you have answered, NO.
So please for your sake and for your sanity, consider starting your own business and push hard for your own dreams! I know I did it, and though it is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, it is also the BEST thing I’d ever done because…
My business became my second chance in my second chapter of life and it can also be that for you!
Felicia Lopes trains and empowers Women Over 40 who want to start businesses and become entrepreneurs nationwide through her robust online learning management system which features 3 Curriculum, 8 Core Courses, and over 70 individual classes (or modules). Join her this coming 12/20/2018 for her webinar — Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Mindset where she will walk you through the minefields and mental hurdles most Adults Over 40 face when launching a new business. Register here to attend this information packed webinar.
In our continued effort to provide resources for Entrepreneurial Women Over 40 herein is a resource from the National Women’s Business Council:
About the NWBC
The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) is a non-partisan federal advisory council created to serve as an independent source of advice and counsel to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners. The Council is the government’s only independent voice for women entrepreneurs. Members are prominent women business owners and leaders of women’s business organizations. NWBC is composed of 15 members who are appointed to three-year terms.
Like all entrepreneurs, women business owners face many challenges in making their entrepreneurship dreams a reality. Some of the challenges faced by women may be specific to women, due to the historical and cultural context within which they do their work. Women have the challenge of confronting and overcoming the historical barriers of being kept out of business and capital markets until the late 1980s. Even today, women’s access to information (or lack thereof) about financing strategies and opportunities may be limited due to a lack of access to the social networks where many key decision makers and capital players make deals. A lack of information about financing a business may result in more women raising lower levels of capital or pursuing only debt financing, which can limit their growth potential. Even more challenging are the cultural and personal challenges that women may face. Many women business owners also need to manage family-related responsibilities that still fall disproportionately on women despite progress in this area. Finally, some women struggle with being comfortable with living through and overcoming risk and failure, a critical skill set for any entrepreneur. Women still trail men in size of business and business receipts, and women need to become more comfortable with risk in order to grow their businesses. All of these issues hit close to home for many successful business owners, yet, they are important to continue to explore, particularly in relation to how women start, grow, and expand their businesses.
The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) initiated this research to understand the reasons behind the general lag of women-owned business growth in terms of business size and receipts, as compared to firms owned by men. Other studies have indicated that, on the whole, women and men approach entrepreneurship differently. In order to assist women, and the nation, to advance economically, the NWBC looked to the research to provide insights on key considerations when reaching out to women entrepreneurs to encourage maximum growth of their businesses. The research centered on questions about three key attitudinal areas associated with business ownership and growth: risk tolerance, motivations, and expectations. The research team also listened for instances where culture could be influencing behaviors or experiences.
About the Research
This research was conducted by Public Policy Associates (PPA), Incorporated, a public policy research, development, and evaluation firm headquartered in Lansing, Michigan. The research was qualitative in nature with the goal of exploring attitudes and preferences; as such, it is not meant to be representative of all women business owners. The research was based primarily on focus groups and telephone interviews with 81 women entrepreneurs from three metropolitan locations in the United States (Houston, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.). The participants were organized into four segments of women business owners: (1) having high-growth expectations, (2) having moderate-growth expectations, (3) having children at home, and (4) making frequent use of outside advisors (such as lawyers and accountants). These categories were selected by the NWBC and PPA because the team hypothesized that these business and personal characteristics might have an influence on attitudes about risk and motivations for starting a business. Overall, the women in the study tended to be more diverse, more educated, and older than the population of women business owners nationally. However, they were roughly similar in terms of business size (defined as gross receipts and number of employees).
Risk – It’s about managing risk, not avoiding it.
The study participants who were most risk tolerant also held high expectations for business performance and growth. Business owners who already have high expectations and are comfortable with risk appeared to be on track to grow their businesses.
Utilization of outside advisors was not associated with greater tolerance for risk. However, most participants used one or more outside resources, and all participants recognized the value of such resources, particularly during the startup phase. Participants recognized that external advisors could assist in mitigating risk during growth. NWBC has concluded that finding the right advisors can help a business owner develop confidence and become more comfortable with risk.
Because of the inherent instability of micro-businesses in the market due to business cycles and changes in market dynamics, the riskiest strategy may, in fact, be the unwillingness to take necessary risks.
Investing in hiring new staff or consultants was seen as a highly risky activity and was viewed with caution. There seemed to be difficulty among some owners in delegating daily management responsibilities, as owners were concerned about finding employees that they could trust.
Motivations – The original personal motivations for becoming a business owner drive the subsequent path that a business takes, and perhaps the owner’s willingness to take risks.
The business owners in this study were mostly motivated by independence, flexibility, and work-family balance. Wealth creation in terms of net worth, as defined by these women, was not a motivator that these women had in common.
One distinction among the segments was that more women in the high-growth expectations segment said that they started their businesses in order to capitalize on an opportunity or to fill a gap in the market than women in any of the other segments.
The original personal motivations for becoming a business owner may well drive the subsequent path that a business takes, and perhaps the owner’s willingness to take risks. NWBC has concluded that these original motivations need to be considered potential influencers on business growth planning.
Women entrepreneurs who are highly motivated to grow their firms take tangible, consistent steps toward that end.
Expectations – Women define growth in similar ways, but have different timelines and strategies for achieving it. In many ways, growth appears to be a choice.
Growth was not a central focus for many at the outset of their businesses; rather, the focus was on startup and stabilization. With more experience as a business owner came more attention to growth, ostensibly from an increase in confidence in running the business.
There did seem to be difficulty among some owners in delegating daily management responsibilities (e.g., processing payroll), which may be compromising business growth potential. The owners were concerned about finding employees that they could trust, as mentioned above in the section on risk.
This study found that women entrepreneurs with high-growth intent are, in fact, making strategic decisions that best positioned them for growth, particularly through marketing.
Cultural Influences – Women business owners juggle multiple roles.
The owners saw success in business as a reflection of their personal and professional success. However, the point at which an owner considers herself sufficiently successful seems to be influenced heavily by a need to balance business success with success in other areas of her life.
Perceived expectations and norms around women’s responsibilities and roles (e.g. within their households) had at least some influence on business growth decisions, as well as ownership decisions. Risk taking, motivations, and expectations were all affected.
Women business owners are taking a holistic view of work and personal life. Women expressed concerns about adding focus on business growth to their current workloads, which include home and workplace leadership roles and responsibilities.
Women business owners with children at home defined risks in terms of family finances, personal time, and personal reputation. In the high- and moderate-growth segments, the owners pointed to risks associated with business investments and finances more frequently.
Policy and Program Implications
The factors that influence the growth of women-owned businesses are dynamic and interrelated. Motivations for starting a business can impact both expectations for growth and tolerance of risk. NWBC believes that policy and programming for women business owners should help women to see how to remain true to their motivations for business ownership while accomplishing business expansion and wealth creation. This study reveals a number of considerations:
Programs: We need to focus as much on expansion as on startup and stabilization. Particularly valuable may be training on second-stage business assessments, expansion planning, or similar resources for those women business owners who are beyond the startup stage, but are not confident about how to pursue growth on their own.
Programs: Women in this study appeared to struggle from front-line service provider to CEO as their business grew. Programs should emphasize problem solving to achieve goals and encourage the use of resources and tools. Training on organizational development, human resources, and hiring may assist women in finding the right people as advisors or employees, and increase their confidence in making smart decisions about expanding their workforce and delegating responsibilities.
Messaging: In addition to advocating for ‘risk taking,’ organizations working with women business owners should focus on risk management and positioning for opportunity as part of business growth planning and implementation. It may be that owners who appear to be willing to take big risks are in fact just better at seeing how to manage or mitigate the risks required for successful business ownership.
Messaging: Programs that recognize that business ownership is a viable path to generate wealth, including adequate retirement savings, and that provides strategies to help owners get to that point, would likely be valuable to women business owners of all ages. In general, the value of business growth in connection with other goals, like helping one’s community or family, may resonate better.
Messaging: Acknowledge the multiple roles that women business owners play (work, home, community) and their desire to perform well in their roles.