Money Is Power: Entrepreneurs Share How To Get Funding And Manage Your Wealth
Economic empowerment and women’s empowerment go hand in hand. At the same time that the #metoo movement is helping women find and use their voices, economic shifts are also putting more financial power into women’s hands.
The numbers tell the story: For the last 10 years, women have been starting businesses at five times the national average compared to men, 35% of American millionaires are now women and, within 12 years, women are set to control two-thirds of the nation’s wealth, says Susan Avarde, Co-Founder, Brandometry. On the flipside, VCs give only about 7% of funding to women-owned businesses despite the fact that about 40% of businesses are female owned.
“If you want to get into the C-suite and become the top leader, you have to get comfortable talking about money,” says Shelley Zalis, CEO, The Female Quotient. Top female entrepreneurs shared their advice on how to grow and manage your wealth in an unplugged discussion in the Girls’ Lounge @ SXSW 2018. Here are the key takeaways:
Educate yourself on finances. “It’s a great time to be a woman,” says Jill Faherty Lloyd, Managing Director and Financial Advisor, Evercore Wealth Management. More women than men in the US are earning college degrees and 40% of women are now the breadwinners. “In addition to women generating our own wealth, there is also inheritance happening: Wives outlive husbands by an average of 15 years. By 2030, women will control the majority of the finances in this country. Are you ready for the responsibilities and the opportunities that having that kind of wealth will offer?”
Look to lead. We need women leading and scaling companies across every sector. “I hope over time we’ll see women leading more across all sectors, especially in sectors that will greatly impact our everyday lives, such as in AI,” says Julie Wroblewski, Venture Lead, Pivotal Ventures.
Focus on your networks. To help get funding, focus on your networks in order to scale. “Having the right connection or getting the right advice at the right moment can help you scale much faster and save you a lot of time,” says Lori Cashman, Co-Founder, Victress Capital.
“When it comes to networking, I think there needs to be a bit of a mindset shift for women, because women tend to network differently than men and worry they aren’t being authentic,” says Lisa Wu, Partner, Norwest Venture Partners.
“To keep it authentic, you should be interacting with someone because you’re curious and you want to learn, not because you want to get something from them,” says Cashman. Just don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
Go big. Wu says she also sees a difference in that women are more conservative than men when asking for money or projecting earnings. “Whenever I approach women entrepreneurs, I say go for bigger numbers,” says Wu. “If you don’t hit it, it’s not a reflection of your ambition. Don’t hold back.”
Amplify your passion. “The reason the pitch meeting is really important is that if you can’t sell us as funders, we start to wonder if you can sell employees to come join your company,” says Wu. “We need to believe that you’re out there selling your vision to everyone else in order to believe that you will be successful.”
Be twice as good. Unconscious bias exists and impacts when and if women get funded. “Understand and accept some of the roadblocks, proactively think about scale and how you can make your company so much better that the biases don’t really matter,” says Sarah Kunst, Founder and Angel Investor. “There is a saying, you have to be twice as good to get half of what other people have. Figure out what’s the baseline: Ask yourself how you can have risk management that is twice as good as the guys who may be pitching something similar?”
Find easy capital. “One of the things I tell people about raising money is to join an accelerator—not necessarily because you’re always going to learn a lot, but because it is one of the quicker ways to raise $100,000,” says Kunst. “Go to f6s.com, where you can apply to 10 accelerators at once.”
Pay it forward “For so long there has been little or no representation for female founders from venture capital firms, so if you were a female founder it was difficult to get money. Of all the venture capital last year, only 2.2% of founders were female,” says Faherty. “What’s encouraging to see is that female founders who have made their money are exiting and are now funding other female founders.”
“We know from the research that women are more likely to invest in other women, and this will help get more women in positions of power,” agrees Wroblewski. As you’re getting opportunities, pull other women up and along with you.
Do it your way. “I sold a company I built from nothing for $80 million. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I did know people and I did know creativity,” says Zalis. “When I first sold my company, I had bankers write my bank book…but it didn’t sound like me. It was just a bunch of numbers on the page and it didn’t tell a story. There is no personality, and it didn’t feel warm or have a ‘wow factor,’ which was what my company was. The bankers said, ‘This is the way it is, this is what you need to do.’ I had to find my voice. So I rewrote the deck with love and heart, and I sold my company because of that. Sometimes you just have to own it, be comfortable with it, and do it your way.”