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Kauffman_Foundation_body.jpgby Cathie Ericson.

A new research report from the Kauffman Foundation finds that women entrepreneurs have far lower levels of participation in growth-oriented companies than men do. This might be surprising, considering the attention paid to the “mompreneur” category, but that’s the key differentiator: women entrepreneurs are far less likely than men to own growth-oriented firms. Fewer than one million women-owned firms have any employees other than the owner herself.

Women-owned businesses account for only about 16 percent of the nation's employer firms and, among high-growth firms, fewer than 10 percent of the founders are women. Translated to dollars and cents, the difference sounds even more profound: only about two percent of women-owned firms generate more than $1 million a year.

The researchers view this as an unprecedented opportunity. “These are striking statistics that suggest women entrepreneurs represent a large and untapped resource for generating jobs and high-growth businesses,” according to the authors of the study.

Survey Findings: Two challenges to overcome

The qualifications are certainly there: women represent more than half of the educated U.S. population, and more than half of them are in the work force.

To help explain the low percentage of women running high-growth firms, the researchers surveyed nearly 350 female tech startup leaders to see if they could pinpoint the underlying reasons.


The study found that while all entrepreneurs face many of the same obstacles in starting a business, there are two key challenges that, if addressed, could bolster the ranks of women entrepreneurs:

  • Lack of mentors: Surprisingly few women in the survey cited a role model as their motivation for starting a business—and a lack of available advisors is mentioned as one of their top challenges. More access to mentors is an important strategy for encouraging women to start and run successful high-growth companies.


  • A financing gap: A high fraction of these survey respondents cited financial capital as a critical challenge to launching their firms (72.1 percent), and the majority (nearly 80 percent) used personal savings as their top funding source. Men who start firms seem to be expecting more growth right off the bat – they typically have nearly twice the capital that women do.

Clear benefits to finding answers

Accelerating female entrepreneurship could have the same positive effect on the U.S. economy that the large-scale entry of women into the labor force had during the 20th century, according to the study. It went on further to challenge policymakers and relevant organizations to help women overcome these hurdles. “The untapped economic potential of female entrepreneurship, especially in high-growth fields, could be the catalyst for economic growth in America,” the study says.

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media LLC to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media LLC is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media LLC. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.


Making Meetings Matter

Posted by Touchpoint Mar 20, 2015

Making_Meetings_Matter_body.jpgby Wendy Amundson.


What’s the biggest time-waster at work? Too many meetings, say many employees. For the second year in a row, that was the top answer in the annual “Wasting Time at Work” employee survey by 


There’s a cure for that, says Bruce Honig, chief executive facilitator at IdeaGuides, a San Francisco-based company specializing in meeting facilitation and training. “People don’t feel there are too many meetings if the meetings are useful and productive,” he says. Here are some tips he shared for making that happen:


Have an agenda with clear objectives: If the meeting leader doesn’t have a clear sense of what he or she wants the outcome of a meeting to be, it won’t be productive. Honig suggests using action verbs to signal the purpose of each agenda item—such as create, decide, or present—to make clear what needs to be accomplished at each stage of the meeting.


Invite the right people: Do you need information shared? Idea generation? Buy-in? Decision making? Look at what you’re trying to accomplish with the meeting and make sure to invite those who are integral to that outcome and prune those who aren’t.


Create a visual focus: Using a flip chart or the virtual equivalent creates a visual focal point for meeting participants. “It makes the meeting more active and creates a common understanding, because everyone is looking at the same thing,” Honig says.


Making_Meetings_Matter_pq.jpgLeave with a written plan of action: Before you adjourn the meeting, write down what was decided and who’s doing what and when. “When all the meeting participants can see the plan in writing, you’re once again creating common understanding and agreement of next steps,” he says.


Evaluate immediately: “This is the step most likely to be skipped, but it’s an important exercise if you want to make your meetings more effective,” says Honig. “It only takes five minutes to go around the table and ask for one thing that worked well in the meeting and one thing that could be done better next time.” Alternately, suggests Honig, draw two columns on a flip chart or whiteboard, heading one column with a plus sign and the other with a change symbol. Have people jot down their thoughts about what went right and what should be changed before they leave the room.


These suggestions can help improve both in-person and virtual meetings—and for the most part, even one-on-one discussions. “Of course, a one-on-one discussion will be less formal,” says Honing, “but it’s still important to come into any meeting knowing your objectives and to end the meeting with an agreement on what comes next and whether the meeting met both your expectations.”

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media LLC to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media LLC is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media LLC. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Employees and Fraud.jpgEvery year, employee fraud costs businesses of all sizes billions of dollars. And the smaller your company is, the more vulnerable you may be. Learn how to avoid theft from within and protect your small business with our new guide.


Download the guide "Fraud Prevention: Employees and Fraud" today!

Whoever said “too much of a good thing can be a bad thing” might have easily been describing the joys, and potential sorrows, of working with family. The good news is that you know your family and can trust them with your beloved business. Working with loved ones can be fun. The bad news is that when things go wrong, they can really go haywire.


In fact, there are seven areas where mixing family and business can be particularly tricky. Be careful with these potential pitfalls:


1. Hiring: Especially with a new business, an entrepreneur may bring in a spouse, or sibling, or even an adult child, to help out and get the business off the ground. These sorts of arrangements are usually casual, and as such, important issues such as compensation, hours, duties, and so on may not be discussed as extensively as they would be with a regular employee. Needless to say, this can lead to misunderstandings.


The solution is to treat the relative as an employee first and as a relative second. Be the boss, as uncomfortable as that may be initially.


2. Unequal treatment: The possible problem with hiring a loved one to work for you compared to your other employees is two-fold:


  • First, whether or not you treat the family member equally to everyone else, there will be a built-in perception that the family employee will receive special treatment. This is understandably bad for morale.
  • Second, family-member employees may think that they are deserving of special treatment; after all, they are related to the boss. If you don’t give them that special treatment, they may come to resent you – justified or not.


The solution here is frank communication with your loved one. Make sure they know that it is in everyone’s best interest that you treat them equally.


3. When world’s collide: Being someone’s husband or brother or dad is inherently different than being someone’s boss, or even business partner. Big problems can ensue when you mix the two worlds and roles get co-mingled.


Consider this: It’s late November and you two are having some issue at work. All of a sudden, not only do you have a work problem, but you have a family problem too as Thanksgiving is looming and you have to put the problem and work roles aside for the sake of family harmony around the Thanksgiving table. Easier said than done sometimes.


The challenge is that work relationships can stretch family ties, and family issues can interfere with work. 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

4. Power struggles: Your employee may not like or expect you to assert the power and control you may need to in order to run your business effectively. The very nature of being a boss means that the relationship is unequal. Similarly, while you likely value your loved one’s judgment in many areas, that simply may not be as true in your work world.


5. Dispute resolution: Again, the way you resolve disputes with your family may not be how it happens at the office, and what works at work may not be what works at home. They are two different worlds with different rules and cultures.


6. Firing: As if all of this were not tricky enough, now it gets really tricky: What if things don’t work out with your family member? How do you let them go without causing a major family rift? You and your loved one need to have good communication. He or she needs to know that they will be treated like all other employees, for better or for worse.


7. Exiting the company: Is your loved one expecting a piece of the pie? Does he have a right of first refusal to buy your business in case you want to sell? Succession issues like these need to be worked out well in advance of retirement.


The upshot of all of this is that, of course, there are many benefits to working with family. Just be sure that everyone is on the same page so that work issues do not interfere with your familial bond.


About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

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