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Do Women and Minorities Face Venture Capital Challenges?

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

 

The number of women and minorities that acquires venture capital as entrepreneurs are not as good as one would hope. Only approximately 10-18% of all venture capital goes to teams that include women or people of color. Investors wrongly assume that women entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs of color, are getting enough money or too much money already. This simply is not the case.

 

The majority of investors are mainly white males who do not see, speak with, or seek out women and/or minority founders. They often assume when they do finally come into face-to-face contact with this group that they are an odd aberration.

 

Unfortunately, the response of many venture capitalist is to subject woman and minority entrepreneurs to much more scrutiny than companies seeking capital headed by white males.   This discourages other women and minorities from contacting venture capitalist to fund their growth and future thus exacerbating the problem.

 

Women and minorities often are not even received all that much better by other women or minorities. Even established and successful companies, run by women or minorities, face a lot of challenges and difficulty raising money since they are still viewed as “too risky” by most investors.

 

The Venture Capital community is much less inclined to explore how diverse businesses might be the right fit for their fund or can present outstanding opportunities to take calculated expansion risks. They often tend to stay within their comfort zone and the same circles, businesses, investment advisors, etc. Change is sometime difficult to wrap their heads around and this often reinforces their investing bias.

 

Women and multicultural entrepreneurs represent a huge missed investment opportunity since together they represent a huge part of the United States population and quite a large number are successful entrepreneurs. Additionally, government agencies require corporations to do business with a diverse supplier network.

 

Overcoming the Challenges:

We all need to work to break the cycle to break investor bias!

 

Everyone needs to reconsider who they think of when they hear the word “entrepreneur” and include a wider, more diverse mix, into their thinking and investing. Women and minorities are just as talented, intelligent, and innovative as anyone else.  Often, they have had to deal with greater challenges to get where they are and have more practice with overcoming business obstacles and challenges. Women and minorities need to be as loud, forceful, and public about their business ventures as others who have done so for decades. They need to make a dedicated effort to get in front of Venture Capitalists for funding and consideration.

Obstacles to Starting Your Business & How to Overcome Them

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

There are a large number of people that consider starting their own business but simply give up before they get anything off the ground. They become paralyzed or stuck by their fears.

 

Five Biggest Business Obstacles & How to Overcome Them:

 

Self-Doubt:

Many potential entrepreneurs stop before they even begin due to self-doubt and the fear of failure. Don’t allow self-doubt to stop you from making your dreams a reality. If you need assistance getting started, it is always a good idea to reach out to support groups or mentors to help you overcome these mental blocks and provide you the encouragement you need to keep going.

 

Knowledge:

Most people start a business because of an idea and not necessarily because they are fantastic business people. There are so many resources available today to help anyone start and run their own business. You can easily take online courses to learn what you need begin.  You can also watch tutorials, consult with a mentor in the industry, join support groups, hire people who have the knowledge you lack, or use software to take care of certain tasks.

 

Legal:

Legal considerations and legal fears are a significant hurdle for some people.  These obstacles can easily scare away potential entrepreneurs. You do need to be aware of any potential legal problems and prepare for them but it doesn’t have to be so daunting. There are plenty of online resources that can help guide you, sites such as the U.S. Small Business Administration or Legal Zoom.

 

Funding:

Financial fears are the number one issue that stops people from even starting a business in the first place. It is also the major reason for a business closing its doors. Funding fears are everything from the fear of not making enough money to draining your savings account to try to stay afloat. Most people are comfortable with a steady paycheck from a larger corporation and do not want to take a chance on the fluctuating income of their own small business. It can be frightening but success can bring huge rewards and put you at the helm of your own ship controlling your destiny.

 

Ways to Generate Funds:

  • Start the business on the side of your normal 8-5 job and keep the security of your paycheck
  • Work part-time as a rideshare driver to generate additional regular income
  • Offer consulting services
  • Begin your business by selling online before transitioning to a brick and mortar storefront and avoid these costs until you generate revenues
  • Rent a room in your home for income
  • Rent your entire home out through services like Airbnb.

 

Website:

Marketing your business takes planning, proper administration, and a bit of know-how. The main marketing tool your business will need is its own website. You can opt to hire a pro to put your site together or you can utilize the multitude of do-it-yourself options. Most eCommerce platforms have very nice drag-and-drop templates that you can use. A lot of the website hosting companies do as well. Take the time to do a bit of research before you choose where to build your site and pick the option that works best for you.   A website is a “work in progress” and you will improve and grow your web presence as your business and revenues grow.

 

Too many people let these obstacles hold them back from starting and running their own business. There is always a way over or around any problem you may face. Don’t let anything stop you from achieving your dreams. Remember you often must fail before you succeed.

 

Remember these quotes:

  • Winston Churchill: “Success if walking from failure with no loss of enthusiasm”.
  • Thomas J. Watson: “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really:  Double your rate of failure.  You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all.  You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes.  Make all you can.  Because remember that’s where you find success.”

 

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Part 3 of 3

 

What You Need to Start and Run a Business : Online Resources and Tools

Often starting and running a business means that you are doing most of everything all by yourself. The good news is there are a multitude of resources out there that can help! Thanks to technology, there are tons of affordable and easy to use tools that can automate some of your most redundant tasks. Whether you need a hand starting your business or you are already up and going, below are some great resources to bookmark and take advantage of.

 

General Business Guides and Resources

 

General Business Programs:

 

Funding and Money Management Resources

Loans: 

 

Grants:

 

Peer-to-Peer:

 

Crowdfunding:

 

How to manage money

 

Money Management Programs

  • Expensify– can help track your expenses
  • Due, QuickBooks, Gusto– and can make your accounting and payroll a bit easier
  • TurboTax – helps you do your own business and personal taxes

 

Legal Assistance and Documents

 

Marketing Resources

 

Marketing Programs

  • Google Adwords – pay per click search engine ads
  • Facebook Ads – pay per click social media ads
  • Hootsuiteand Buffer – automate your social media posts
  • HubSpot – all-in-one marketing platform with CRM, marketing, and sales
  • MailChimp – generate leads and run an email marketing campaigns
  • Intercom– chat and market to your customers

 

Networking

  • YEC– help with networking
  • Business Networking International (BIN) – get referrals by connecting with other businesses in your community
  • SCORE– pairs businesses with volunteer mentors
  • LinkedIn Small Business– to connect, promote, and network businesses
  • Volunteer Match– locate volunteer opportunities in your community
  • Check your local Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club for more local networking resources and events.

 

Other Helpful Programs:

  • Google’s G-Suite– free resources to organize and conduct business like Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, and more
  • Google Analytics– when paired with your company website it provides demographic and behavioral information about your audience
  • Survey Monkey– great to use to hear from your customers
  • FreshDesk – automated customer support platform
  • LastPass– remembers and stores all of your passwords
  • Trello– project management that lets you assign and monitor tasks
  • UpWork– a good place to find freelancers
  • ZoomLifesizeSlackand Skype – great to keep in touch with clients and virtual workers as well as conduct meetings

 

 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that you hve enjoyed this three-part series.  We hope these online tools and resources are valuable and will help your business.   If you are a veteran, former military, spouse or loved one, consider joining VAMBOA.  There are not any membership fees or dues.  Here is a link to join:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/.

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Part 2 of 3

 

It is never easy to start a business.  It involves very careful planning, evaluation, and a money to begin. The mindset of the entrepreneur beginning the business is one of the most important parts.

 

There is not any test or certification out there that states you are prepared to become a business owner or that you will start and run a successful business. Your mindset determines how motivated, driven, happy, and focused you are on making your business successful. Education is always valuable, but it will not fully prepare you to become an entrepreneur.

 

How do you improve your mindset to be successful?

 

-Your Responsibilities: You need to know and accept that starting a running your own business is a 24/7 job and that is going to have a major impact on your personal life. You will need to make sure that you are ok with missing events, holidays, weekends, evenings, etc. while you get your business up and running. Find out who you can lean on to take up the slack in your personal responsibilities.

 

-Your Personality: To run a successful business you need to be i flexible, patient, and prepared for the completely unexpected. If you tend to become overly stressed and/or irritable at the drop of a hat, you will be challenged with the turbulent nature of running a business.

 

-Your Motivation: Even though you are the “boss” of your new business, you still have customers, partners, lenders, and investors to answer to and they are your focus and priority.

 

-Your Willingness to Work With Others & Your Management Skills: Regardless of the type of business you begin, you will need to work with many other people including customers, employees, vendors, suppliers, partners, lawyers, accountants, engineers, and others. You can find strength and success in those people.  Take the time and energy to develop your people skills and your relationships.

 

-Your Network: As the saying goes “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Carefully cultivating a wide network of other entrepreneurs and professionals can help your business dramatically. Take the time to form relationships with successful people in like-minded businesses as well as differing business services – such as lawyers, lenders, influencers.

 

-Your Competitors: Knowing who your competition is and how they do business can help you determine what makes you different and how you will stand out. Use this information to build your brand and better your offerings.

 

-Your Relationship with Money:  Your financial management skills can make or break your business. If you spend money too freely, you will have cash flow problems with your business that can ultimately lead to closing. Make sure that you have the capital in place and you do not overspend.

 

-Your Scalability: Successful business owners simply cannot do everything on their own.   If your business cannot survive without your presence, you may need to rethink your business structure.

 

Working on yourself is the best way to ensure you are ready to run a business and make it successful.

 

Stay tuned for Part 3 – Online resources and tools to help you start your business and run it.

 

Do You Have A Good Business Idea?

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Starting any business takes a huge leap of faith. You’re jumping off of a cliff and hoping your parachute will open and lead you and your business to success. So how do you decide what’s really a great idea? Sure, you can rely on your gut instinct, but that isn’t the only good measure. Identifying the difference between a good business idea and a good business opportunity will serve you well on your entrepreneurial journey.

Recognizing that passion for your concept is important but will only get you so far. It is important to be both realistic and well informed as you approach the process. Successful business opportunities should fill an ongoing need. They provide a new or different product or service that also allows you to make a profit and grow your business. But just how will you translate your idea into a viable business?

 

Here are some key questions to ask yourself:

 

Why are you doing this? What’s your mission?

Your business needs a sense of purpose that sets it apart from the competition. If your business improves people’s lives in some way, that should drive your mission.

 

What problem are you solving?

You need to be solving some sort of real problem that exists for your customers. If not, how will you motivate people to buy your product or service?

 

Who is your customer?

Knowing who your ideal customer is and how you can find them is critical to starting a successful business.

 

How are your potential customers solving their problem today?

Identify the choices your potential customers currently have and how your solution is better.

 

What will potential customers be willing to pay for your solution?   Do you think you can make money?

You want to make sure your idea can be profitable, and that your planning and hard work will result in success.

 

While there’s no definitive way to tell if a company will be successful, if you put forth a quality offering that solves a problem and reflects your passions, you’ve greatly increased your odds.

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA.

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