Women are starting businesses at a record pace — motivated to pursue passions, financial independence and the flexibility that eludes most traditional jobs.
(BPT) - Women are starting businesses at a record pace — motivated to pursue passions, financial independence and the flexibility that eludes most traditional jobs.
In the U.S. alone, women entrepreneurs generate $1.1 million in revenue on average across retail, professional and personal service businesses that have operated for 11 years. This stat comes from Visa’s new ‘State of Female Entrepreneurship’ report, which informed their recently announced program, She’s Next, Empowered by Visa, a global initiative to support and champion women in their efforts to grow their small businesses.
That’s powerful stuff, highlighting the important role women entrepreneurs play in the prosperity and economic development of local communities. The typical entrepreneur is 42 years old and earns nearly $110,000 in household income a year, making a profound difference in building and supporting families in the community.
Clearly, female founders are coming into their own. In fact, the Visa study found that 79 percent of American women entrepreneurs feel more empowered now than they did five years ago.
Still, key challenges exist: 73 percent say funding does not come easily, and nearly 2/3 use their own funds to get started. Assembling a good team, finding the right tools and dealing with competitors are among the biggest challenges keeping women entrepreneurs up at night.
For any entrepreneur, it can feel like there’s never enough time or resources to grow a business. To help other entrepreneurs and based on insights from the ’State of Female Entrepreneurship’ report, Visa polled four areas women entrepreneurs focus on to turbocharge success:
Find mentors: More than two-thirds said they wanted advice from fellow entrepreneurs. Relatable role models and mentors are invaluable when you’re making the leap to starting or building your own business.
Find your feet: Strategy development is critical for women starting up their own company. Assembling a good team was a challenge encountered by 37 percent of women founders. Other challenges include: finding the tools to grow and manage their business (36 percent), competition (36 percent) and growing as quickly as they need to (33 percent). Have a plan and pursue your vision.
Gather capital to invest in your business: Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. Respondents cited profits and revenue growth as the top two priorities for improvement. Thirty-two percent of women would direct additional funding toward newer technology.
Put in overtime: When building a business, time is precious. Given the investment and high stakes that come with the territory, it comes as little surprise that a majority of women entrepreneurs (56 percent) are putting in more work hours than before they started their business.
If you’ve joined the ranks of female entrepreneurs, find support and resources by signing up for the Female Founder Collective, and visit She’s Next, Empowered by Visa where you can download and print a toolkit with tips and advice to help build and sustain your company.
(BPT) - What drives someone to take the risk and start their own business?
In many cases, it’s the knowledge that they can offer a great product or introduce new solutions to old problems. Passion and determination put entrepreneurs at the forefront of innovation.
What’s remarkable about so many small and medium-sized businesses today is that it’s not just the bottom line they’re after. Businesses are more focused than ever on socially and environmentally conscious causes.
Take, for example, small business Bayou with Love, who partnered with Dell to create a jewelry line using recycled gold from old computer motherboards. The jewelry line is just one example of a small business prioritizing doing good for the planet.
Cuvee Coffee practices direct trade, a model that considers environmental, financial and social sustainability as well as personal relationships. It builds partnerships with farmers who are good stewards of the land, pay fair wages to their workers and are often leaders in their communities. Cuvee then pays well above market prices for their coffee and in return, the company gets the very best coffee and the farmers make substantial profits.
By using ethical and altruistic principles to guide business practices, these entrepreneurs practice what many call “conscious capitalism,” and investors are taking notice.
Investments from angel investors and venture capitalists have helped these businesses play their part in a national and global trend toward social betterment in business.
Here are a few ways small businesses can benefit from conscious capitalism.
It opens the door to more capital from investors
When a company launches a humanitarian initiative or implements an ethical program, people pay attention.
According to Fundivo, angel investments in altruistic businesses have been steadily growing since 2002 and roughly four jobs are created per investment. Moreover, a recent study from The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investing reported that under sustainable and responsible investing guidelines, a total of $8.72 trillion was made in 2016, showing a 33 percent increase since 2014.
Increased networking opportunities through crowdsourcing
By helping businesses reach like-minded changemakers, the tech industry has made it easier for small businesses to maintain a conscious mission statement along with a profitable bottom line.
In particular, funding for socially-conscious businesses has become more easily achievable through crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Even Kickstarter owners Yancey Strickler and Perry Chen insisted that their crowdfunding platform become a Benefit Corporation, ensuring they remain focused on their mission to bring creative projects to life rather than simply increasing the size of their own profits.
These crowdsourcing platforms are an efficient way for companies to find investors, but also to network and get their message out to a broader public.
A boost from tech
At the center of many altruistic businesses is the robust use of technology, which has allowed many highly successful small businesses to support social and environmental causes.
It’s not only that having dependable and easy-to-use technology is critical for these businesses, but many tech giants have implemented programs to support conscious capitalism in small businesses.
For instance, as one of the world’s leading IT suppliers, Dell has been particularly passionate about helping businesses with an eye for social change and environmental consciousness. Through its 2020 Legacy of Good plan, which outlines its own sustainability goals, it has helped small businesses use technology in a way that drives progress and social change.
Dependable and affordable technology is essential to promoting social change, and that’s why so many entrepreneurs and investors are realizing that when paired with technology, ethical business practices can do a lot of good and turn a profit.
(BPT) - Today’s business environment is characterized by excitement as much as it is by anxiety. As new technologies are constantly introduced into the workplace and transform how employees work, managers need to adjust in order to retain employees, streamline processes and stay competitive.
“Companies of all sizes are looking for solutions that allow them to work and collaborate seamlessly from anywhere, transforming their businesses to be more efficient and mobile,” says Nate Spilker, vice president of product management at Citrix.
Many see such rapid change as particularly challenging for small to mid-sized businesses, where limits of capital, personnel and other resources may prevent them from being able to fully adapt to changes and implement fixes.
In fact, the opposite may be true. Because small to mid-sized businesses have less red tape to get through, they may be in a better position to become early adopters and outpace the competition. With an entrepreneurial spirit, they can turn these challenges into opportunities for growth. Here are five way they are doing just that:
1. Growing IT budget. For all the promises that come with new software and hardware, there's also a price tag. Beyond implementing new technology, businesses need to grow their IT staff to ensure everything functions as it should. To combat these costs, many have adopted a bring your own device (BYOD) policy in which employees use their personal computer, laptop or tablet to work. According to Forbes, this policy can save companies as much as $3,150 per employee per year. The key to a successful BYOD policy is software that provides rigid security measures and allows individuals to access shared files and work with one another, whether on a Mac, Windows or other operating system.
2. Keeping ahead of administrative tasks. When Hope Blankenship’s business To the Rescue Bookkeeping was expanding from a single location to multiple offices in different states, she quickly realized her success also brought new challenges, namely, how to coordinate and manage multiple locations. Blankenship discovered that Citrix ShareFile, which provided an automated workflow, file sharing, remote desktop access and document signing, was the solution she needed to coordinate with several people in a number of locations and not get bogged down by administrative work.
3. Customer security and confidentiality. Despite living in a digital age, many small and medium-sized businesses still rely on printed materials and faxes when working with clients. In fact, 72 percent of business agree that improved document processing would improve customer relations and increase their brand value.
“Business leaders recognize the need to embrace a modern, digital workplace to drive greater efficiency in business processes. This means taking a close look at their document and information management workflows and embracing technologies to take the friction out of these processes while keeping data secure,” says Terri McClure, senior analyst, Cloud Infrastructure and File Sharing, ESG. “By using ShareFile’s collaborative workflow and security features, customers and their clients benefit from more streamlined and structured processes, less time to complete projects, deliver results and increase customer satisfaction, all while complying with stringent security requirements.”
4. Generational differences. It has often been said that there has never been a greater gap between generations than there is with millennials and older generations. Smart businesses use these differences to create a dynamic and diverse workplace. This is done through traditional mentoring programs in which older employees train younger ones on professional development, career advancement and numerous other soft and hard skills while the younger group can teach older workers how to efficiently use new technologies.
5. Lack of space. One of the biggest problems a growing business faces is in finding the space for an expanding staff, either in their home offices or in remote locations. By incorporating remote file sharing and workflow technology into their business plan, physical space has become less of an issue. This technology streamlines the workflow and allows people to collaborate from virtually anywhere in the world and in the process, saves on the cost of rent.
The driving force behind many of these solutions involves a cutting-edge file synch-and-sharing system, like Citrix ShareFile.
“Citrix is continuing to drive innovation in ShareFile beyond file sharing and storage to address the workflow needs of the modern worker. Now with a simpler user interface and use-case-specific solutions, ShareFile is helping its customers to increase productivity and collaboration,” Spilker says.
With more than 80,000 business customers and 20 million business users, Citrix has developed their systems to be easy to use and capable of handling all types of files, from sensitive legal briefs to 3D architectural designs. Combining user experience with security, ShareFile safeguards data through leading industrial security standards.
To learn more about small business technology solutions, visit www.sharefile.com.
(BPT) - There has never been a better time to explore health insurance options for your employees through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace at HealthCare.gov.
As a small business employer (generally with one to 50 employees), you want to do right by your employees, and that means making sure they have access to the health care that will keep them, and your business, healthy. Through the SHOP Marketplace, small business employers, including small non-profit employers, can find affordable, high-quality private health and dental insurance.
And, if your business enrolls in SHOP Marketplace coverage, you may have access to a tax credit worth up to 50 percent of your premium contribution (up to 35 percent for tax-exempt employers) - making it even more affordable to offer coverage.
The SHOP Marketplace also offers choice and flexibility when it comes to picking the health insurance that works for your employees and your business. You can pick one health insurance plan to offer to your employees, or you can offer your employees a choice of health plans - and still receive and pay one monthly bill. You can also decide what types of coverage to offer (health, dental or both) and whether to offer coverage to dependents. You also control how much you'd like to contribute to employee and dependent premium costs (you can contribute different amounts to employee and dependent costs). It's your choice - you decide what works for the needs of your employees and your bottom line.
You can easily browse, apply and enroll in SHOP Marketplace coverage online at HealthCare.gov. If you have questions, SHOP Marketplace-registered agents and brokers are available to review your options and help you apply and enroll in coverage. The SHOP Call Center, 1-800-706-7893 (TTY: 771), is open and available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET on weekdays to answer any questions you may have.
To enroll, find an agent or broker, or learn more about the benefits of the SHOP Marketplace, all you have to do is visit HealthCare.gov/small-business.
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