Geri Stengel

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Equity Crowdfunding on Its Second Birthday: A Look Back and Ahead

Title II of the JOBS Act recently passed its second birthday, which makes it an opportune time to take a look at the sector to date, as well as attempt to chart where it is going.

The Floodgates Didn’t Exactly Burst Open

Over the course of the past two years, nearly 5,600 companies have sought capital publicly, and nearly 1,400 succeeded in raising money, according to Crowdnetic, which aggregates data from 18 equity crowdfunding platforms.

This success rate of about one in four companies is similar to the success rate in the offline world. These companies raised more than $600 million combined, averaging about $447,000 per company. While these numbers sound impressive, only a tiny percentage—2%—of money raised from accredited investors has been raised via equity platforms using 506(c) in 2014.

What’s Holding Equity Crowdfunding Back?

Several reasons have contributed to equity crowdfunding’s slow start, but many are fading out of rear-view as the movement gains momentum.

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5 Powerful Ways to Use Your Purse to Help Women and Girls

Women have a powerful tool for improving the lives of girls and women — money. Finance can be used to advance change around issues as diverse as women on corporate boards, sex trafficking, bias in the media, the wage gap, equitable health access and the gap in funding women-led companies, according to The State of the Field of Gender Lens Investing: A Road Map for the Field, a report by Criterion Institute. Criterion is a think tank focused on reinventing the economy.

“Gender is the most powerful determinant of how we see the world and everything in it,” writes fellow Forbes contributor Bridget Brennan, an expert on marketing to women. “It’s more significant than age, income, ethnicity, or geography.”  Here are five ways women can use their purses to not only bring women’s and girls’ issues front and center, but also change the way things are done.

Film Eliminates Gender Stereotypes From Entrepreneurship

Even with the dramatic rise in the number of women entrepreneurs, men still are more likely to start companies and more likely to grow them big.

“Being an entrepreneur is associated with being a man,” said Nora Poggi, director and producer of She Started It. One way to change this is by showing that women are taking the leap and succeeding.

7 Tips For Making Necessity The Mother Of Success

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the dramatic rise in women of color starting businesses. On the surface, that might sound like good news but only if these women are choosing to start a business as an opportunity. If starting the business was a necessity because they couldn’t find a job, the news is not so good. Necessity entrepreneurs are less likely than opportunity entrepreneurs to be successful.

As I read Whitney Johnson’s book, Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work, I realized how appropriate her advice is not just for women, but for any necessity entrepreneur. The book will be released on October 6, 2015.

One piece of advice not in the book may be the hardest to hear for someone trying to put food on the table but it is critical. Johnson mentioned it when I spoke with her. That is, the process takes time. It takes about six months to morph an idea for a business into a viable business.


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6 Must-Have Personality Traits for an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs solve problems by creating new products or new ways of doing things. It takes a very special person to do this well—one with very specific personality traits. Based on personal observations and interviews, I’ve come up with six must-have traits for success as an entrepreneur. 

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5 Common Mistakes Companies Make When Seeking Financing

Whether you’re starting a new business or expanding an existing $50 million enterprise, you may need to raise outside financing. I was surprised when my accountant, Gary Topche of Topche & Company, told me the mistakes business owners make are similar no matter the size of their businesses.

His company specializes in serving the financial needs of businesses ranging from startups wanting to grow big in a hurry to companies already worth half a billion dollars. Naturally, I wanted to know more about these mistakes, and share insights from someone so close to ground zero.

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The Rise Of Women Tech Entrepreneurs In The South

Atlanta is setting a new standard for women in tech, offering them opportunities not found elsewhere. Women in Georgia, as elsewhere are less likely to start tech companies than men … but Atlanta is changing that.

Allyson Eman, Executive Director of Venture Atlanta, the premier tech conference in the Southeast, says women are seizing the opportunity to start tech companies in Atlanta’s key industries—fintech, health IT and IT security—as well as in emerging industries, such as marketing automation.

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How Starting with “Why?” Leads Entrepreneurs to Success

Why are some companies more innovative, more profitable, and inspire greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? It’s because they start by asking “why,” according to Simon Sinek, an ethnographer, author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action and speaker (his TED speech is among my favorites).

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” says Sinek. Your story and your passion make you stand out in a crowd and help you connect with like-minded people, the kind of people who will support you even when times are tough.

When you follow your heart and are passionate about what you do, you lay the foundation for creativity. That keeps you motivated. When obstacles get in your way, you have the strength to go on. Over the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing four start-up entrepreneurs whose passion and purpose inspire me, their customers, employees, suppliers, and investors.

Read all of How Starting with “Why?” Leads Entrepreneurs to Success on My Turnstone. 

Looking for Alternative Funding Sources? Go Online

If you’re a small business, you don’t need to be told that small businesses were hit harder than large ones during the financial crisis. Bank loans, especially those for less than $350,000, dried up. Small businesses—especially Main Street firms—couldn’t get the money they needed to maintain cash flowhire new employees orpurchase new inventory or equipment to grow their businesses.

But, as the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. “Emerging online players are filling the void left by many banks, and pushing innovation within the banking sector in the same ways in which other online upstarts such as changed retail and Square has changed the small business payments business,” wrote Karen Gordon Mills and Brayden McCarthy in The State of Small Business Lending: Credit Access During the Recovery and How Technology May Change the Game (PDF), a Harvard Business School working paper.

Whether online or offline, alternative lending caters to customers who need cash but might not qualify for traditional bank loans. It's even attracting some small businesses that would otherwise qualify for a cheaper traditional bank loan but don't want to deal with the traditional hassle. In these cases, some businesses determine that the flexibility that comes with alternative lending is worth the extra cost.

Read all of Looking for Alternative Funding Sources? Go Online on Quickbooks. 

Women-Owned Businesses: A Tale of Two Types Of Entrepreneurs

Just the facts, ma’am

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of opportunity, it was the age of necessity. It was the epoch of unicorns (start-up companies valued at a billion dollars or more), it was the epoch of struggling sole proprietors. That is the story revealed by 2012 U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Small Business Owners for women.

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