By Stephanie Burns, ForbesWomen
When I became an entrepreneur, I distinctly remember thinking, “I had no idea I would be writing this much. My main job function is writing.” I was in the thick of creating Chic CEO, a website designed to give women the resources they needed to start a business. But what I was actually doing, was writing. A LOT. Anyone who has started a business can attest to the fact that there are a lot of things they do daily that have nothing to do with their core competency.
Here are a few things that no one told me when I became an entrepreneur.
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By Geri Stengel, Forbes
Want a more resilient vibrant economy? Diversity is key to achieving this goal. It helps companies earn more and employ more while increasing profits and innovation. It’s not just about attracting a mix of employees. It’s about penetrating untapped markets. It also means access to diverse suppliers who are agile, cost-effective, and provide innovations to meet the needs of corporations better and to serve their customers better.
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By Sunnie Giles, Harvard Business Review
What makes an effective leader? This question is a focus of my research as an organizational scientist, executive coach, and leadership development consultant. Looking for answers, I recently completed the first round of a study of 195 leaders in 15 countries over 30 global organizations. Participants were asked to choose the 15 most important leadership competencies from a list of 74. I’ve grouped the top ones into five major themes that suggest a set of priorities for leaders and leadership development programs. While some may not surprise you, they’re all difficult to master, in part because improving them requires acting against our nature.
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By Alison Gutterman, Forbes
As challenging as it can be for modern businesswomen to snag capital, they have a serious head start when compared to female entrepreneurs of past generations. Congress didn’t pass the Women’s Business Ownership Act until the late 1980s to help eliminate gender discrimination in lending. Before that point, female entrepreneurs could not even get a loan unless a man co-signed it. Even raising private funding was nearly impossible for corporate-minded women with vision.
Since removing some of the barriers to female entrepreneurship, society has enjoyed the fruits of many women-founded companies. Despite this progress, women still lag behind when it comes to wooing investors. Their historical mistreatment, especially from financial institutions, may partially contribute to this ongoing — and frustrating — problem.
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By Falon Fatemi, Forbes
The data is all too real and familiar. When it comes to raising capital, males consistently outperform females. According to research by All Raise, only 15% of venture capital funding is allocated to female founders. What’s more troubling, despite a lot of concern and advocacy, we really haven’t done much to address the discrepancy. All Raise’s research confirms that the growth rate of funding injected into female-founded companies has plateaued over the last few years.
The disproportionate level of funding channeled into male-led startups might suggest that these are more lucrative investments. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The investment landscape is laden with perceived biases that put an iron ceiling on women’s ability to raise money. One 2018 study found that, during investment pitches, female entrepreneurs are more likely to be asked “prevention” questions—questions related to safety and potential risks and losses. In contrast, male entrepreneurs are more likely to be asked “promotion” questions—questions related to their hopes, ambitions, and achievements. This difference in the modus operandi has a measurable impact on the relative funding each gender receives.
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By Monique Greenwood, Entrepreneur
Most women under the age of, say, 45 dread a particular time of the month. (Fellas, stay with me.) So, Arion Long, an African American millennial out of the Washington, D.C., area, came up with the Femly Box, a way to make the monthly menstrual routine less burdensome and more like a gift. Her ultimate PMS kit includes a supply of organic, all-cotton feminine products, along with wholesome wellness treats, like shea butter, herbal tea, and organic chocolates. For about $30 a month, it comes in a pretty package that gets delivered right to a woman’s door, just in time for her cycle.
When Long, a former health plan communications specialist, launched her business in 2015, she had only one problem: getting funding from investors. “Let’s face it,” she says. “I was talking to middle-aged white men. They didn’t know the product or use the product. And they didn’t care. I’m a brown-faced, five-foot-one-inch young woman, who wasn’t taken seriously. I had done my research and was ready. But young white men — some of whom had simply jotted down an idea on a beverage napkin — got the nod.” Long was hoping to snag a modest $10,000 to $75,000 investment. Everyone she talked to said no.
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By Geri Stengel, ForbesWomen
Between 1972 — the first year the Census Bureau began tracking the gender of business owners — and 2018, women-owned businesses have grown from representing 5% of all business to 40%, according to American Express 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses (SWOB)*. However, their economic clout has not grown equally. In 2018, women-owned businesses represented 8% of total employment and 4% of total revenues.
New York City is taking action. Timed for Women’s History Month, the city announced a series of initiatives to address persistent gaps in funding and business development opportunities.
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By Geri Stengel, ForbesWomen
Women are increasingly striking out on their own and finding success as entrepreneurs. Between 2007 and 2018, the growth rate of women-owned businesses generating revenues of more than $1 million outpaced the rate of businesses in general: 46% compared to 12% respectively, according to American Express 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses*. Wealth management companies, take note: women entrepreneurs are taking control of their wealth portfolios, and the old habit of ignoring them has got to go.
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Last month, I joined up with Cass Bailey of Slice Communications for a webinar titled You Had a Matchmaker. Now What? A matchmaker is a one-on-one meeting between a certified women’s business enterprise (WBE) and corporate representative at a national WBENC event or a regional event from one of WBENC’s Regional Partner Organizations (RPO). It’s exciting to get a matchmaker because the corporate representative, a potential buyer, has reviewed your profile and chosen to meet with you because they are actively looking for your product or service. What Cass and I found is that many WBEs looked at the matchmaker as the end of their sales journey with a particular corporate target. In reality, a matchmaker is just the beginning. In our webinar, we discussed how to get a matchmaker, preparing for the meeting, and, importantly, how to follow up. Cass presented some marketing tips which are valuable at all of these stages and participants walked away with some concrete steps they could take. You can check out the webinar by clicking the video above.
For certified women’s business enterprises who haven’t had a matchmaker yet or women-owned businesses who are not certified but want to know more, I wanted to provide a brief overview of the process, where you can expect to have a matchmaker, and how to approach the meeting. As we discuss in the webinar, the most important tip you can take is that having a matchmaker, even a fabulously successful one, is just the beginning.
What is this WBENC certification business? How do I become a WBE?
WBENC Certification is simply the process that determines whether or not a company is owned, managed, and controlled by one or more women. Women-owned businesses certified through this process become certified women’s business enterprises (WBEs). Other entities provide certifications for other diverse suppliers – minority-owned businesses, LGBT-owned businesses, or businesses owned by a person with a disability. If you are a member of any of these groups and own 51% or more of your company, there are corporations who want to do business with you. You can read more here and here and download my free guide to which certification is right for you on my website.
How do I get a matchmaker? Most of my advice can be narrowed down to three themes: Show Up, Follow Up, and Scale Up. You get a matchmaker meeting by registering, or showing up, for the events where they host matchmaker meetings. If you’re a certified women’s business enterprise, this might be at your regional partner organization’s programs, another regional partner organization’s programs, or at a WBENC national event such as the Summit and Salute or the WBENC National Conference. You will have to register by a certain deadline and may have to fill out additional profile information. As part of the certification process, you will fill out an application that becomes your first marketing piece for many of these opportunities. Make sure it’s complete!
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Fifth annual report reveals City received fourth consecutive “D+” grade overall,”F” grade among African American owned businesses
City contracted just five percent of $19.3 billion budget with M/WBEs in Fiscal Year 2018
Lack of progress highlights need for City Charter mandated Chief Diversity Officer in City Hall and at each City agency
(New York, NY) — New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer today revealed that New York City is still lagging behind on spending with minority and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs) and renewed his call for a Chief Diversity Officer in each City agency and in City Hall. The fifth annual “Making the Grade” report, which evaluates each City agency’s spending with M/WBEs, showed that while overall spending with diverse firms increased in Fiscal Year 2018, 80% of certified M/WBEs are still not receiving any business from the City. The City received its fourth-consecutive “D+” grade by awarding $1 billion in contracts to M/WBEs out of a $19.3 billion budget in FY18 – just 5.5 percent of the total budget.
Comptroller Stringer has been issuing Making the Grade since 2014 in an effort to drive the City to improve its spending with diverse firms, and hold agencies accountable when they fail to do so. This year’s report highlights the City’s failure to meet spending goals with firms owned by women, Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans, but sounds the loudest alarm on the City’s spending with Black-owned firms. Despite an overall “D+” grade, the City earned an “F” for spending with Black-owned firms. Meanwhile, spending with Asian-American firms earned the City a “C”, with Hispanic-Americans a “D”, and with Women-owned firms a “D.”
“New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world, and yet our own government fails to make fairness and equality a priority when it comes to spending city dollars. There needs to be someone in every city agency making sure minority and women-owned businesses are being given a fair shot to get a piece of a $19 billion budget – that’s why the City Charter has to be changed to include a Chief Diversity Officer,” said Comptroller Stringer. “If we are going to build a five borough economy, we cannot perpetuate a system that fails to build wealth in communities that have historically been left behind. While progress is happening, this report shows just how far we have to go.”
Despite the City’s overall “D+” grade, several agencies made progress over the last fiscal year.
Grades increased at 9 agencies, decreased at 5 agencies, and stayed the same at 17 agencies – meaning almost 30 percent of agencies increased their grade.
Three agencies received an “A” grade – Department for the Aging, Commission on Human Rights, and Department of Health and mental Hygiene.
However, ten agencies that received either a “D” or “F” grade account for 50 percent of the City’s total M/WBE spending, depressing the citywide grade despite areas of improvement.
Stringer’s report advances four proposals to level the playing field for M/WBEs and ensure the City’s multi-billion dollar procurement budget is lifting up all New Yorkers.
A charter mandated Chief Diversity Officer. Accountability begins at the top – and that’s why Comptroller Stringer is calling for a City Charter change to mandate the hiring of a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) in the Mayor’s cabinet and in every city agency. According to public data, out of 32 mayoral agencies, only seven currently have a CDO, with only four reporting to the Commissioner. But every agency needs a dedicated, executive-level leader to focus on diversity and drive results. The current City Charter Revision Commission provides a unique opportunity to enshrine a CDO in the City’s governing document.
Create competitive opportunities for M/WBEs on citywide requirements contracts. A major obstacle to increasing M/WBE spending is the Citywide requirements contracts that represent approximately 10 percent of the City’s total budget. These contracts are agreements that agencies enter with a limited number of vendors to meet the City’s demand for particular goods or services on an “as-needed” basis, often over multiple years. Examples of items and services purchased through requirement contracts are automobiles, fuel, equipment maintenance, cleaning services, large scale printing of election documents, and more. The City spent more than $1.5 billion through requirement contracts in FY18, but M/WBEs received only $102.5 million – less than seven percent – of this spending. The City should increase opportunities for M/WBEs by awarding requirements contracts to a pool of vendors, rather than one vendor alone, and by striving to include M/WBE subcontracting goals in all requirements contracts.
The City should require prime vendors to disclose details about their commitment to diversity, including their own supplier diversity plans. In FY18, the City’s top 25 vendors received $2.7 billion from the City, but only 3.8% of those dollars made it to M/WBEs. To encourage more M/WBE opportunities among top vendors, the City should require vendors to share details of their own supplier diversity programs when they bid on City contracts. Agencies should be allowed to award points to prospective vendors with robust M/WBE programs and Chief Diversity Officers.
The City Charter should be amended to alleviate the financial burden of contract delays for M/WBE vendors by assigning deadlines to every agency in the contract review process. In FY18, one in four M/WBEs had to work for at least three months without a contract in place or wait just as long after their contract start date to begin work. Meanwhile, over 69 percent of contracts awarded to certified M/WBE vendors were submitted to the Comptroller’s Office for registration after the contract date. Without a registered contract, a vendor cannot get paid – that’s interrupted cashflow. In order to make the process more efficient, transparent, and sustainable for all firms, the Charter Revision Commission should include specific timeframes for each oversight agency in the procurement process.
“In a City that prides itself on opportunity, women and people of color in business continue to be sidelined and neglected, ” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “In a City that thrives on diversity and inclusion, it’s our duty to ensure that M/WBEs are given the opportunities they need to survive. I commend Comptroller Scott Stringer for his continued efforts to highlight and correct this important issue.”
To read the full report, click here.