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March 31, 2008


Often when Amy and I are working with our female entrepreneur clients, we talk about the importance of understanding 'why' you are starting a business. What is the motivating factor or goal? Financial stability, earning power, flexibility, autonomy, filling a social need, engagement...etc. Understanding this why will not only help you to set your business infrastructure and determine appropriate offerings and products, but will also help you to solicit and find advice and resources that are relevant to the kind of business that you want to create!

It is frustrating when the variety of reasons that women have for starting businesses are not properly recognized, especially when women's businesses are compared to men's. People start businesses for very different reasons, and therefore very different results will determine success! I was heartened to see a blurb on a study in Business Week Small Business Magazine, which not only acknowledges the variety of reasons that businesses are started, but also shows men's and women's businesses perform equally well when compared to the business owners expectations for the business.

Gender Non-Gap
It's often said that men make better entrepreneurs than women. Not so. Companies founded by men and those started by women are equally profitable, according to research commissioned by the Small Business Administration. What matters isn't gender, but a founder's motivations and expectations.
The study, by Scott Shane, a professor of economics, and Case Western Reserve University graduate Erin Keppler, examined data from the Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics, the first national collection of information on why people started businesses. The survey tracked 685 entrepreneurs who were launching a venture and followed them for four years, compiling financial data as well as information on how founders expected their businesses to do.
When comparing the performance of a business with its founder's expectations, "there is little evidence of differences between male and female entrepreneurs on either effort or performance," says Shane. What's more, the data offered clues to why some people perceive women-owned companies as underperforming those owned by men. More women started businesses with the goal of flexibility, not, as most men did, with the goal of making a lot of money. And more women started companies in service industries where profitability and growth tend to trail those of male-dominated industries such as technology. The perception that women are less skilled reflects a lack of understanding of why many became entrepreneurs in the first place.
—By James Mehring

March 28, 2008


Last night I attended my first NYSWE (New York Social Women Entrepreneurs) meeting, and lucky for me it was held at in good company! NYSWE is a newly re-launched chapter of the national organization YWSE (Young Women Social Entrepreneurs). The women were terrific, not all entrepreneurs, in fact there were many intrapreneurs as well!

The speakers were just phenomenal though. Lara Galinsky from Echoing Green and Ruth DeGolia from Mercado Global. Ruth is one of Echoing Green's fellow and she spoke so passionately about her company, the work she is doing, and her involvement with Echoing Green.

I was most struck by the level of integrity that was present in what both Lara and Ruth had to share. Ruth has clearly thought so much about the absolute best ways to run her organization, the best ways to meet her goals, and the best ways to employ the practices of social entrepreneurship.

Lara was able to speak so clearly about the importance of Echoing Green's role in the funding process, what they look for in fellows, and about the incredible value associated with mentoring and support network in the Echoing Green Platform.

They both highlighted some of my favorite key lessons that I hear again and again from the entrepreneurs I admire most.

* You must ask for help!
* You can't do everything yourself. instead surround yourself with great talent who are motivated to help realize the mission of the company.
* It is important not to grow too fast and to maintain the integrity of your purpose and brand in order to build an innovative and truly sustainable organization.

A new thing that I left thinking about was how to dig down to the 'root cause' of the problem that you are trying to solve. In Ruth's case she has found creative, meaningful, and sustainable ways to employ women in Guatemala, but what Mercado Global is ultimately addressing is poverty, and how do they measure success? school attendance rates in their partner communities. fascinating, and smart. if you had met Ruth, you'd expect nothing less.

Much of this thinking and behavior is reflected in a book that Lara co-authored called Be Bold! Create a Career with Impact. It emphasizes the "Gall to Think Big" in addition to 3 other key characteristics.

I feel sufficiently challenged, inspired, and motivated!

March 26, 2008


ok, so Small Giants has been my favorite book for years. It is written by Bo Burlingham from Inc Magazine who decided to profile companies who choose to be great instead of big. I admire and am inspired by this principle. I also learned a whole heck of a lot from this book. I think that it is extremely helpful to hear the inside experiences of growing successful entrepreneurs...what were the critical decisions...the best decisions...the things they would do differently. Anyway, I have been known to obsess over this book and this approach.

So imagine my delight when I was introduced to Alpha Dogs by Donna Fenn, who profiles companies who are 'leaders of the pack' in a similar 'small giants' style. This book includes another dozen inside looks to interesting, innovative, and growing companies.

life lessons by osmosis, i love them!

March 25, 2008


green and cute simultaneously. this notebook is composed of discarded paper. perfect for notes, journaling, and to do lists.