Geri Stengel

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Vistas: Geri Stengel’s Blog: Women Entrepreneurship

Equity Crowdfunding: Lessons From the Field

Raising money is a time-intensive process. Marketing your securities offering online through equity crowdfunding can shorten the process. For those of you who feel trepidation about dipping a toe in the water, knowing why others have taken the plunge and learning from their experiences may encourage you to raise money publicly.

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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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4 Overlooked Ways To Minimize The Risk Of Starting A Company

Striking out on your own is risky business. Within the first five years, 50% of businesses fail. But you can increase your chance of success with planning and preparation.

I asked Candace Klein what entrepreneurs overlook that could increase their chances of success. Who would know better? Klein has been part of three start-up companies and, through her Bad Girl Ventures nonprofit, has guided many women as they start companies. Bad Girl Ventures  provides training, connections and access to capital to female entrepreneurs in Cincinnati and Cleveland. Klein started SoMeLend, which closed its doors, and she is now the chief strategy officer of Dealstruck. Both companies are online alternative lenders to small businesses. 

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How To Turn a Pesky Problem Into A Billion Dollar Business

An “aha” moment leads to product innovation
Who would have thought that a mouse and a mishap would spawn a billion dollar company? While on a date with her farmer husband-to-be, Kari Warberg Block was asked to help start a stalled tractor, as she sat there a mouse ran up her leg into her crotch. Eek!

At the time, Warberg Block worked at a cosmetic counter at a local department store in North Dakota. Despite the fact that the perfume gave her headaches, she wore it to impress her date and had a bottle in her purse that day. Thinking that if the fragrance gave her a headache, it would also give the mouse one, she sprayed the critter. It immediately took off.

Warberg Block thought other farmers would like a product that didn’t harm mice, but sent them packing. The products available at the time were poisonous not just to rodents, but to people,  especially children, which was of great concern to her.

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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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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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How To Make The Connections That Make Things Happen

Research shows that entrepreneurs with larger and more diverse networks grow their businesses bigger. Yet, networking can be uncomfortable, especially if you’re an introvert.

Leave it to an introvert, Dorie Clark, to write a practical, actionable e-book, Stand Out Networking: A Simple and Authentic Way to Meet People on Your Own Terms, that anyone can follow. It maps out how to make meaningful connections that can lead to an investment, a major new customer or partnership, media coverage, a publishing contract, a speaking opportunity, and much more.

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An Agile Mindset: Not Just For the Leader

What sets highly successful leaders apart from the rest? Agile learning does, and entrepreneurs are better at it than corporate executives, according to The Korn Ferry Institute. They should know. The Institute researches leadership and has found that the ability to navigate through novel situations—and to learn from experience without becoming rigid—is a key leadership skill set.

Agile learners are better able to work through complex problems drive innovation and grow a bottom line. The three traits characterize of an agile learner:

  • Tolerance of ambiguity: Comfort with vague or contradictory information and the ability to make decisions when things are uncertain.
  • Intellectual curiosity: The extent to which a person is likely to tackle problems in a novel way, see patterns in complex information, and pursue deep understanding.
  • Emotional intelligence: The ability to influence, collaborate, and communicate effectively with others and use interpersonal awareness in a way that advances collective goals.

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Agile Mindset Sets Entrepreneurs Apart From C-Suite Execs

The agile mindset of entrepreneurs and their ability to learn and pivot quickly gives them a leadership edge over corporate executives. According to The Korn Ferry Institute, there are three main attributes associated with agile learning: tolerance of ambiguity, intellectual curiosity and emotional intelligence, each of which is a key predictor of leadership success. They’ve found that agile learners are better able to work through complex problems, drive innovation and grow a company’s bottom line. These skills are critical whether a company is creating new products and services or responding to disruption. And while entrepreneurs have these qualities in spades, executives often struggle to develop them or leverage their power in a corporate climate.

“Think Pac-Man (the popular video game series of the ‘80s), in which the player controls Pac-Man through a maze,” said Amy Millman, president of Springboard Enterprise, an accelerator for women-led businesses seeking equity financing. “When entrepreneurs hit a wall, they act like a skilled Pac-Man player. They figure out another way. Dead ends don’t happen.”

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6 Lessons For Rocking A TED Talk Or Any Speech

TED and its independently run TEDx events are carefully curated, concise talks on a cornucopia of topics. I love to find a topic that I didn’t know I was interested in, then watch the talk online.

Presenting a TED Talk can bring you attention and even business, but it is no easy feat to be chosen as a speaker. Don’t expect your PR person to land you a gig. Professional speakers need not apply either, though some do land an appearance. It’s not about being polished. It’s about saying something extraordinary, said Aaron Sylvan organizer of TEDxFultonStreet and an event producer. Speakers at TED talks are the world’s most inspired thinkers and their topics have not been seen elsewhere. The ideas presented  change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.

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