Geri Stengel

 
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Women Entrepreneurship

8 Tips For Crowdfunding Success

Whether you’re a startup or an existing business, a rewards-based crowdfunding campaign offers debt- and equity-free money to launch a product. That’s right! You don’t have to give up a piece of your company in exchange for money or pay interest on a loan.

Women are proving that they have the right stuff to be successful at rewards campaigns. I know this from first-hand experience and from women I’ve interviewed. I raised 71% more than my $7,500 campaign goal.

Women are organized, diligent, clear communicators, good storytellers and skilled marketers. The result: Women had a 70% success rate in reaching their Kickstarter goals vs. 61% for men. Further analysis showed that it was not women’s more modest financial goals that accounted for their higher rate of success, according to research conducted by Hebrew University, the Kauffman Foundation, and UC Berkeley.

I recently connected with Shelley Prevost of Torch, who exceeded her goal of raising $150,000 by 8%. Two thirds of parents want to limit or guide their children’s use of the internet, according to Alexandra Samuel, who researches the way we use the internet.Torch is a simple-to-use, smart router that allows parents to guide their children’s use of the internet.

So how do women do it?

Read all 8 Tips For Crowdfunding Success on Forbes.com.

5 Ways to Grow Your Business With A Little Help from Your Friends

After interviewing women entrepreneurs for the past four years, one fact stands out: Successful ones don’t do it alone.  Support comes in many shapes and sizes and from many different sources. I was reminded of this when I reconnected with Diana Lovett of Cissé Trading Co. who takes advantage of several different kinds support. We originally spoke about raising money when you’re pregnant or a new mother.

Cissé produces cocoa baking mixes, hot cocoa and ready-to-eat treats. Lovett has grown the company from a small regional player that sold in speciality markets to a national company selling in traditional supermarkets. She’s expanded her product line from foods you make to include foods that are ready to eat. All products are absolutely scrumptious.

Lovett built her company using a wide range of support systems.

Read all of 5 Ways to Grow Your Business With A Little Help from Your Friends on Forbes.com. 

Why The Force Will Be With Women Entrepreneurs In 2016

What’s good for women is good for the economy.

Economists and academics agree women entrepreneurs are an under-tapped force that can rekindle economic expansion. Women are becoming more entrepreneurial. Women own 36% of all businesses, according to the 2012 U.S. Census ‒ a jump of 30% over 2007.

My 10 reasons the force will be with women entrepreneurs are a mix of marketplace trends, expanding financing options, and the growing recognition that support is needed and is effective. The biggest challenge women face when starting and growing their businesses is access to capital, especially equity financing, as I was reminded by Sharon Vosmek, an economist and CEO of Astia ‒ a nonprofit that identifies and propels high-potential women-led companies with expertise and money. Female entrepreneurs start companies with 50% less capital than male entrepreneurs, according to Access to Capital by High-Growth Women-Owned Businesses, research commissioned by the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC). So no surprise, money is a large focus of the article. I’ve also included resources in case you want to go deeper into a topic.  

Read all of Why The Force Will Be With Women Entrepreneurs In 2016 on Forbes.com

Photo credit: © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Diverse Angels Breed Innovative Companies

Innovation doesn’t just happen. It is the result of making unexpected connections based on things we already know. This is as true for investors as it is for entrepreneurs. Investors are more likely to invest in things they understand first hand.

Natalia Oberti Noguera understood that the way to increase the number of successful innovative companies was to increase the number of women angels funding them. These investors recognize investment opportunities that white guys don’t. That’s one of reasons she started Pipeline Angels in 2011. Back then, only 12% of angel investors were women and 13% of all angel-backed companies women-led, according to the Center for Venture Research, which tracks angel investments. The percentage of women angels has more than doubled to 26% and so has the percentage of angel-backed companies that are women-led — 28%.

To read all of Diverse Angels Breed Innovative Companies go to Forbes.com.

Cross Cultural Opportunity Leads To Business Growth

To create a long-lasting bridge between Jordan and America, 20 women from both countries attended a week-long cultural and entrepreneurial training. They learned from each other and built relationships.

The program is a partnership among Open Hands Initiative, which creates programs that build mutual understanding, open communication, trust and goodwill between people in the United States and emerging countries; the Women First Enterprise, which helps women become successful entrepreneurs and investors; and Oasis500, a leading early stage and seed investment and business accelerator based in Amman. The culmination of the week-long program was a Demo Day and Pitch Competition. Companies competed for $100,000 in prize money.

To read all of Cross Cultural Opportunity Leads To Business Growth go to Forbes.com.

 

How Mindfulness Will Improve Your Business and Your Holiday

Whether your company is still recovering from the recession or experiencing growing pains, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to pause and take control. Not of your business, take control of your mind by using mindfulness techniques. It will help you become a more self-aware leader who understands yourself, your motivations, your values and the purpose of your leadership. Over time, you will find that you have become more effective and satisfied in your work.

To read all of How Mindfulness Will Improve Your Business and Your Holiday go to Forbes.com.

Women And Nature: A Powerful Combination For The Planet And Business Growth

Want to unlock innovation? Diversity is the critical factor in market growth, according to Diversity and Market Growth, research undertaken by The Center for Talent Innovation.

More women in any field will lead to more innovation and better products and services — and will get the economic engine steaming along.  “If we hope to accelerate growth in the global economy, we cannot afford to leave out half the population,” said Cindy Padnos, founder and managing partner of Illuminate Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm.

Padnos gave me the quote for my book Forget the Glass Ceiling: Build Your Business Without One, but it resonated loudly as I started to write an article about two women, Amelia Baxter of WholeTrees Architecture and Structures and Sarah Bellos of Stony Creek Colors. Both are shaking up the sleepy agriculture industry with products that use sustainably grown plants and trees to replace highly polluting materials.

 

Amelia Baxter and her cofounder, Roald Gundersen, developed a process for turning waste trees (small trees routinely discarded during forest thinnings) into a replacement for steel, concrete and milled lumber used for beams, columns and trusses in building construction. “Round timber that hasn’t been milled is as strong as steel,” said Baxter. “It also mitigates the huge amount of waste created in the manufacturing of steel and milled lumber.”  WholeTrees also developed a methodology for grading the round timber to classify its strength. Round timber is plentiful and a renewable resource.

Read all of Women And Nature: A Powerful Combination For The Planet And Business Growth on Forbes.com. 

How An Army Veteran And Saffron Are Building Peace

When you think of Afghanistan, you probably think war torn and desolate. Not high quality produce.

When Kimberly Jung was stationed there as an Army captain, she tasted some of the best fruits, vegetables and spices she had ever eaten. Equally as impressive to her were the people whom she found to be optimistic despite their circumstances as well as loyal and hospitable.

When Jung came back to the U.S., she went to Harvard Business School expecting to be a management consultant At McKinsey in San Francisco. The job didn’t materialize. Instead, while on the phone with Keith Alaniz who was still deployed in Afghanistan, a spark for an entrepreneurial venture took shape. Alaniz told her about Haji Yosef, an industrious farmer who had plenty of saffron but no buyers.

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. It sells for six to seven times the amount of opium poppy. Both Jung and Alaniz knew that selling a high-value crop like saffron would undercut drug trade, which fuels the Taliban.

Read all of How An Army Veteran And Saffron Are Building Peace on Forbes.com.

 

The Essential Guide for Female Entrepreneurs Who Want to Go Big

Women are sidestepping the glass ceiling and no longer aiming for the corner office. Instead, they’re choosing to strike out on their own. While more women-owned businesses are surpassing the $1 million revenue mark, they are still much less likely to do so than those owned by men. In fact, women are one-third as likely as their male counterparts to grow their businesses past $1 million.

The reason? Women entrepreneurs raise only half as much capital as men do. Undercapitalized companies have lower sales and lower profits and generate fewer jobs.

Julia Pimsleur wants to change that. She wants to do more than simply inspire women to go for the brass ring. She wants to provide a roadmap. And she does so with her new book, Million Dollar Women: The Essential Guide for Female Entrepreneurs Who Want to Go Big. Pimsleur has the street cred to do this. Her company,Little Pim, introduces young children to foreign languages through multimedia programs.

Read all of The Essential Guide for Female Entrepreneurs Who Want to Go Big on QuickBooks.com.

Entrepreneurs Disrupt Costly Legal Fees For Startups And Small Businesses

Startups and small businesses complain that lawyers are expensive and costs are unpredictable. Lawyers complain that finding clients and getting paid is difficult. Sounds like an industry begging for some entrepreneurial thinking.

A wave of companies are using technology to provide affordable fixed-priced legal services to startups and small businesses, and referrals and payment to lawyers. Some products provide diagnostic tools that identify gaps in legal coverage that open businesses to risk. In the same way that the healthcare industry tries to  provide lower-cost preventive services to reduce the cost of more expensive long-term care, tech-enabled legal companies provide startups and small businesses with precautionary legal agreements and contracts to reduce the possibility of much more expensive legal action down the road. These legal websites are based on the premise that by bringing down the costs of lawyers, more companies will use legal services.

Read all of Entrepreneurs Disrupt Costly Legal Fees For Startups And Small Businesses on Forbes.com.

Photo credit: Sam Howzit, Giant Gavel via Flickr

 



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