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) - Over the past decade, technology has reshaped the retail industry in profound ways. Ninety-six percent of Americans are now shopping online, according to a recent study from CPC Strategy. Which means today’s business leaders face increasing pressure to keep retail spaces relevant and engaging for customers.
One solution to captivating today’s consumer is a simple one: Build meaningful connections with local communities, says Etienne Veber, president of Field Trip Factory, a firm that helps design, schedule and promote interactive learning experiences within retail environments.
“Technology provides greater convenience and lower prices,” Veber says, "but it is not a replacement for human interactions."
The increasing lack of human connections in our daily lives represents a unique opportunity for retailers to thrive in today's environment, he says, by identifying their core values and concerns, and then expressing them through meaningful learning experiences and a deeper sense of community.
"We learn by doing, and retail environments can be incredibly powerful as teaching platforms,” Veber says.
The value of purpose
When companies express a sense of purpose to their customers, it has a profound effect on the confidence in the brand. Eighty-five percent of companies with a strong sense of purpose say they are backed by their communities, because they are seen as “good and helpful corporate citizens,” according to a survey by Deloitte.
Furthermore, 89 percent of firms with a purpose say clients and customers trust the quality of their products and services — versus the 66 percent of firms that do not have this sense of purpose.
As a way to demonstrate its commitment to its local communities, multi-format food retailer Giant Eagle, Inc. developed an interactive program that connects with local school children. “Be A Smart Shopper” helps young students and their families learn about making healthy food choices.
Over the years, it has been a very effective way for Giant Eagle’s retail Team Members to uphold the company’s common purpose to improve people’s everyday lives and well-being in a community-centered way, and so far more than 600,000 families have been reached across Pennsylvania and Ohio. Educators love the program because it supplements the classroom curriculum and gets their students really engaged. Ninety-five percent of them are planning to come back with their students next year!
“Our Be A Smart Shopper program is an important part of how we fulfill our commitments to education and health and wellness,” says Giant Eagle CEO Laura Karet. “Through the program, our retail Team Members are able to meaningfully impact how the children in our communities think about the foods they eat, and encourage involvement from the children in family meal planning.”
Expressing purpose in the retail space
A retailer can build trust and loyalty by expressing their values in innovative ways. Their stores are more than places to shop. They can build opportunities right in the towns and cities in which they serve.
Host in-store classes and events: Business leaders, store managers and longtime employees, with their industry knowledge, are community gurus. With that mindset, what better way to connect with the community than to open the doors for an on-site event? Things like hands-on demonstrations, seminars, consultations and even heading up an ongoing club are all engaging ways to share knowledge and help people solve their most common pain points.
Champion local causes: Transform company values and industry knowledge into a community asset, and direct resources to solve problems in the community. Reaching out to local nonprofits, being a major sponsor to make a local event even bigger and better, or paying employees for their time to volunteer are all ways a brand can build a meaningful community presence.
Find a partner: Most businesses do not have the in-house expertise to organize, plan and publicize in-house events and initiatives, which is why some turn to a trusted partner for expertise in that field. For example, as Giant Eagle planned its Be A Smart Shopper Program, Field Trip Factory took the lead with the curriculum (with input from educators), and created the online tool that makes it easy for teachers to discover the program and sign up their class for an event. Each participating store can easily set its availability on the Field Trip Factory platform and these educational events take place without disrupting their day-to-day business activities.
Today’s retail climate is a uniquely challenging one, due to the rise in technology. To learn more about finding opportunities to engage with customers and communities, visit fieldtripfactory.com.
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