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The research presented in this report, sponsored by Bank of America Private bank and developed in partnership with Babson College, offers a rare look into the unique experiences of women entrepreneurs. As they navigate their way to building successful businesses, the report is based on in-depth interviews with 30 women entrepreneurs operating companies in a variety of industries, all of which generate a minimum of $5 million in annual revenues.

 

Through their collective experiences, three key themes emerged, all highlighting the barriers that women often encounter in their endeavors to achieve successful business growth. To help others identify opportunities for similar growth, read the full report for seven actionable strategies direct from successful women entrepreneurs.  

 

Click here to read the full report

 

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Women entrepreneurs plan to grow their businesses and hire more workers in 2020. As they grow as business leaders, it is vital for women to mentor the next generation of female business owners. Bank of America’s Head of Small Business, Sharon Miller, encourages women business owners to dream big and keep pushing to achieve their goals. On this episode of the “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” hear more on this and other findings from the 2019 Women Business Owner Spotlight.

 

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“The Heartbeat of Main Street” delivers timely insights tailored to the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Featuring a rotating line-up of small business experts and industry leaders – and covering a range of topics – each episode explores the trends that have an impact on revenue creation for small business owners.

 

The series is hosted by ForbesBooks, and more information can be accessed through a dedicated home page. New episodes will appear regularly on the Small Business Community podcast page. Be sure to check back often – so you don’t miss a beat.

 

Transcript:

 

Kate Delaney:            I'm Kate Delaney with Gregg Stebben. We're from Heartbeat of Main Street with ForbesBooksand Bank of America, and we are so pleased to be here at the 2019 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight. And we are with, I've got to call her my nickname, the grand dame of banking, Sharon Miller, who is the head of Small Business for Bank of America. It's so great to meet you and be here at this fabulous event.

 

Sharon Miller:            It's so great to be here, Kate and Gregg. Thank you so much for having me.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Absolutely. This is one of your premier events of the year.

 

Sharon Miller:            It is. It is.

 

Gregg Stebben:         So tell us about the event and about the data and the statistics and the research behind it.

 

Sharon Miller:            For the last four years, we have produced a Women Business Owner Report just to understand how women are feeling about the economy, about what's happening with their own business and their revenue outlook. And this time, for the first time over the last four years, women have a higher expectation for hiring plans, for revenue growth of their business and the outlook than their male counterparts. So, that's a pretty fascinating data point when you think about the optimism out there in the economy and what's happening in the political climate right now.

 

Gregg Stebben:         You talk to a lot of women business owners. Do you have theories of your own about why there would be that change?

 

Sharon Miller:            You know, women, I mean Kate, we're women, right?

 

Gregg Stebben:         I'm always the guy here.

 

Kate Delaney:            Yes, you are.

 

Sharon Miller:             You're always the guy.

 

Gregg Stebben:          The lone guy.

 

Sharon Miller:             You're the lone guy.

 

                                   And we are sitting in a fabulous place that is dedicated to women, Luminary, that is a co-op of women entrepreneurs working together, that's why we chose this spot in particular here in Manhattan. And to me, women, we are more and more getting out there, starting our own business, wanting to take control of our own destiny. And I think that as that settles in, as you see sustainability, women are understanding, "Hey, I can do this. I feel confident, I feel good about what's going on." And I think it's just time.

 

Kate Delaney:            I love numbers and I'm wondering if there's some trends or stats from the 2019 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight that we should look at, that we should call attention to for people who are listening to us.

 

Sharon Miller:            Well, 84% of women told us that they expected their revenue to be higher at the end of this year in 2019 versus last year. So, that's a pretty good majority of business owners out there.

 

Gregg Stebben:         It's also—they're predicting that for themselves after a previously great year.

 

Sharon Miller:            That's right.

 

Gregg Stebben:         So, it's not a reaction to something bad, but it's a greater reaction to something great.

 

Sharon Miller:            It is. It's continuing that increase, it's continued optimism. And we're already in October.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Right.

 

Sharon Miller:            So when you think about, a lot of the year has passed. We're in the 10th month of the year and we're hearing this from business owners, so that's a pretty good indicator of how they feel they'll end the year.

 

Gregg Stebben:         One of the things I want to ask you about, Sharon, because this really fascinated me, partially I think because I am a man, but I think it's going to be really eye-opening for women as well. One of the things you asked as part of this was, "I believe blank will be impactful in helping women in business over the next five years." And first of all, I love the question, I love the collection of responses you got, but I love the fact that the number one thing that women said they thought would be impactful was achieving work-life balance. Because I think that's also aligned with more and more people, thanks to millennials, are looking for in their business whether they own it or they're an employee. And I want to hear you talk about that.

 

Sharon Miller:            I agree, and I think that's not just for entrepreneurship, but it's for corporate America.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Yes.

 

Sharon Miller:            And I think about Bank of America and the benefits we give: 16 weeks of maternity or paternity leave when someone has a baby. Whether you're the man or the woman, you get that leave, you get to spend time with your family. More and more, people want to spend time with their family, and it's a blurred line of work and life. And when you can have it both together, and you can do what you love and still be with your loved ones, and your company is committed to that, or you're an entrepreneur and you lead that type of organization, he's got greater followership and greater commitment. And especially in the millennials, we're finding that.

 

Kate Delaney:            Talking about the millennials, here at the 2019 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight, what would you tell young women as they jump into owning their own businesses?

 

Sharon Miller:            I think it's important to be positive. Be confident. Follow your passion, follow your dream. Because the more I hear and I read articles and I listen to business owners about, "Why did you do it?" "Well, I followed my dream, I followed my passion." Then don't limit your dream and don't limit what's possible, because when you got into this business, you felt the sky's the limit.

 

                                  So keep dreaming, keep thinking about how I can do things differently, how I can continue to expand or go into different markets, and don't ever stop that creative engine that got you here to begin with. Because when you just get stale and you don't keep thinking, "Okay, how can I do this better, faster, more efficient?" You're not going to keep growing. And so that's what I would encourage any business owner to do, but especially millennials as they're getting into the start of their own business.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Millennials, yes, and women, yes. Because one of the things you mentioned early on as we've been talking today, and I think one of the things that's so visible at this event today is that—and you found this in the report—the more there are women who are successful in business, the more it impacts other women and empowers them to do the same thing. For a lot of reasons, including, "Oh, there are lots of mentors now. There's lots of women that have experienced this. There's more women in banking, so that I do have access to capital," on and on and on and on. And I want you to talk about the network effect of that for women, that your report really beautifully displays.

 

Sharon Miller:            I think it's important, and especially when you think about networking and mentorship and connecting with other women, many times when you have a man and a woman coming together to network or mentor, you're going to have differences. And what we found from clients, and we talk about this a lot, many times men are talking to women about, "Okay, maybe you need to navigate this politics or that," versus the tactical, operational, "Here's the finances, here's the P&L-

 

Gregg Stebben:         Oh my gosh, you sound like my wife and I.

 

Sharon Miller:            "Here's how you operate a business."

                                   I mean, so it's important. And I think the more women that know those types of functions and how to do it and how to drive it, they're going to be able to pass that on and understand that, you know what, yeah, there's politics involved, but there's also brass tacks of how to run a business, how to operate a company. And that's all very, very important.

 

Gregg Stebben:         You're talking about a cultural shift as a result of more and more women being in business and owning business and being in positions of leadership.

 

Sharon Miller:            Absolutely. And what we find is that women bring that back to their communities more so than men. Women are coming back, they're investing in their communities.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Why are you both looking at me?

 

Sharon Miller:            We're not trying to!

 

Gregg Stebben:         But you, I mean it is, there's research to support that. Women share, and men don't.

 

Kate Delaney:            But that's exciting, because that means that the more of those tactics that spread, the more the fear or the barrier to entry will lower, I think, for women. What do you think?

 

Sharon Miller:            Yeah, because I see someone, "Oh, they're like me. They can do it, I can do it." You have to, when you can see what's possible and people paving the way, these great women, then you can say, "Wow, I can do that, because I see they're like me."

 

Gregg Stebben:         What kind of programs do you have at Bank of America that are taking advantage of the things you're learning from the report?

 

Sharon Miller:            Well, my favorite is the Women Ready to Lead Conference, and we do this in various cities across the country. And really it's about women understanding that, you know what, you don't have to have all of it right here and there. Raise your hand, let us know you're ready to lead, let us know you want to grow with the company, and we're going to support you, and we're going to help you get to where you want to go.

 

Gregg Stebben:         So in other words, what you're doing is saying, "If you have the right mindset, we'll help you get the right skillset."

 

Sharon Miller:            Absolutely. Absolutely. And we're here to support you, to train you, to mentor you, to connect you with other women within the company. When I think about Bank of America, 40% of our management team is women.

 

Kate Delaney:            Wow.

 

Sharon Miller:             I mean, it starts at the top with Brian Moynihan and our board setting the vision. 30% of our board, women. You don't find that in corporate America. So it's not just we talk about supporting women, we are-

 

Gregg Stebben:         You're doing it.

 

Sharon Miller:             ... a company made of great women and men.

 

Gregg Stebben:         You mentioned few minutes ago about mentors. And you told us off mic that you know, you had had some great mentors or still have great mentors that were men.

 

Sharon Miller:            Yes.

 

Gregg Stebben:         It's easier and easier for women to have great female mentors, because there's women who have now succeeded at higher and higher levels. But it also occurs to me that there will be another shift culturally when men can find great female mentors. Because now you're cross-pollinating all of these things in a very deep way.

 

Sharon Miller:            You are. And I think you're bringing together the best.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Yes.

 

Sharon Miller:            Because women and men, they bring together different perspectives, and different backgrounds, and that's what diversity inclusion is all about: bringing your whole self to work and feeling comfortable doing that. So it may not be just a man, woman, it might not be just race. It's where did I grow up, am I from the Northeast, am I from the West coast? Very different, very different culturally. And I think that the best companies and the best organizations allow that to come through so that you're able to get the best outcome.

 

Kate Delaney:            What's your ultimate vision? What would make you get up in the morning and say, "Wow, I just completely have nailed this. I am so happy with where I'm at." Because you're growing, growing, all these different programs.

 

Sharon Miller:            I think every day we have to get up and say, "What can we do more of?" I don't think you ever arrive and say, "Hey, it's here," right? We've got to keep thinking and keep getting better and keep growing, because every day, you learn something new, and how can we be better at supporting all people?

 

Gregg Stebben:         Everybody.

 

Sharon Miller:            All people.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Everybody. And I want to ask you about one last thing. We've talked about this with you before in previous interviews. The program you just told us about, it's called Ready for Leadership?

 

Sharon Miller:            Women Ready to Lead.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Women Ready to Lead. It reminds me of something you told us about before, the Bank of America Institute for Women's Entrepreneurship at Cornell.

 

Sharon Miller:            Yes.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Can you update us... first of all, remind people what it is and then update us on what's happening there today?

 

Sharon Miller:            So it is a program that we put together in partnership with Cornell University to help women entrepreneurs. Anyone can access the program, but we put it together with women in mind around education, around training, around how to access capital. Because in this report too, we talked about access to capital, and it's still a barrier or a perceived barrier of many women. And so it is an online institute where you can sign up, your company can. We've got courses and professors and students that are coming together, every single session that we have. And there's different sections, there's different focuses, but what we've heard from business owners going through is, "It has made the world of difference to my business." We have over 13,000 businesses that are in the queue going through this program, which, that's, doesn't sound like, I mean it's a lot of businesses, but how many more can we reach?

 

Gregg Stebben:         How much bigger is the opportunity?

 

Sharon Miller:            How many more can we reach?

 

Gregg Stebben:         How do you scale?

 

Sharon Miller:            That's right.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Yeah. The website is bofainstitute.cornell.edu, bofainstitute.cornell.edu.

 

Kate Delaney:            Perfect place to end us. Sign up.

 

Sharon Miller:            Thank you so much.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Thank you Sharon.

 

Sharon Miller:            Thank you.

 

Narrator:                    For more great small business tips check out Bank of America’s online Small Business Community at bankofamerica.com/sbc. Thanks for listening to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.com and Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com.

My better half is launching a new skin health business. As part of the process, she ordered labels from an online vendor and the  experience was horrendous. Though she’d ordered with what she felt was plenty of time, the company had several hidden and unexplained steps that ruined her experience. They didn’t deliver.

 

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This all could have been avoided if the company laid out and explained a much better workflow for their prospective buyers. No matter your business, almost every customer needs more hand holding than what they’re getting right now.

 

Make Everything More Explicit and Clear

 

When you buy coffee from your favorite place, you know how to order it. But you know that from experience, not because it’s laid out in any useful way. But many new restaurants are smarter about this. They set up their menus to clearly explain the concept.

 

Look at Chipotle: you pick the way you want the food packaged (burrito, salad, tacos, etc.), what kind of protein you want (beef, pork, chicken, etc.), then your veggies, your salsa, and any extras. It goes left to right. There’s nothing fancy. (Yes, I know guac is extra.)

 

Business at every turn can and should be simple and explicit. When I work with marketing clients, I explain up front what the process looks like, what each session will look like, what I do and don’t do for their company, how they pay, what to do when there’s a problem, how to terminate the contract, and more. It’s explicit. It makes every single part of the process known and understood.

 

What Point Do You Want Them to Take Away?

 

My friend Tamsen Webster is a master at helping professional speakers and organizations improve how they talk about themselves and get their ideas across. In one of my earliest training sessions with her, she told the story of a group of investors pitching their company as a great place for startups to seek funding.

 

The second slide showed the team (most of them between ages 40-75). The team’s idea was that people would see the slide and think, “Wow, now that’s a lot of experience!” Instead, the slide worried young startup entrepreneurs who thought that the team wouldn’t “get” their new ideas.

 

Tamsen said this: Be explicit in the points you want people to take away from the information you share.

 

If you intend for your customer to think that your website offers easy step-by-step ordering, then spell that out. The risk if you don’t is that they’ll mistake simple for unsophisticated, or clean with “lacking substance.” And so on.

 

Be There Every Step of the Way

 

People have an amazing capacity for feeling out-of-sorts and confused. Think of any time you spend in an airport. You’re perpetually in a state of uncertainty. Is this the right gate? Do I have the right documents? Am I going to have everything I need? Where do I go again?

 

It’s so important and easy and helpful to your customers to simply guide  along the way. Hold their hands. They’ll appreciate it so very much.

 

About Chris Brogan

 

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Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advisesleadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

“I’ve often looked at something and thought that if it was just tweaked a bit, it could be a whole lot better,” said Elizabeth Foster, founder of Maison Visionnaire.

 

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Foster owned a home fragrance business in the United Kingdom before selling it and moving to the south of France for several years.  She learned a great deal from her frequent visits to Grasse, in the hills north of Cannes, a long-established fragrance center.  When she moved to the U.S. in 2014, Foster started a new fragrance business, Maison Visionnaire.

 

Through much trial and error, Foster started developing a new kind of diffuser for the home.

 

“When you invent something there are always so many ‘trials’ that you have to go through,” she said. “We trialed many different fragrances, making sure they not only smelled fantastic, but that they kept smelling fantastic. We trialed various bottles – which ones didn’t topple over? We trialed different inserts to stop our designs from falling to one side.”

 

Foster wanted to know what people liked and “what did they love?”

 

Maison Visionnaire invented a product called a Composite Diffusion Fiber.  She called it “magic” as it  looks beautiful yet it also “acts as the fragrance ‘engine’ and constantly delivers fragrance until the bottle is empty.”

 

 

In July,  Foster launched her new product line of scented art diffusers and candles.

 

In addition to running her company, Foster is the newly installed president of the New York City chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO).  NAWBO was founded in 1975 with the vision to “propel women entrepreneurs into economic, social and political spheres of power,” and represents over 10 million women-owned businesses in the U.S.

 

Read our interview with NAWBO CEO, Jen Earle.

 

See the Scented Art Diffusers on Instagram @maisonvisionnaire

 

Learn more about NAWBO at www.nawbo.org.

 

Video transcript:

 

[Elizabeth Foster] Women still face a lot of problems when starting a business. The percentage of women's small businesses is huge and definitely on the increase. So those women need to be taken seriously.

 

Super:

Elizabeth Foster

Founder, Maison Visionnaire

President, National Association of Women Business Owners NYC

Bank of America Customer

 

 

I'm Elizabeth Foster, I'm the founder of Maison Visionnaire and I'm also the president of NAWBO New York City.

 

Maison Visionnaire is a home fragrance company. We specialize in scented art diffusers.

 

When I first came to America, the bank that opened the door to me was Bank of America. They actually offered me a credit card, which completely changed everything.

 

I'm very proud of the work that I've done, but I'm also really proud of what I do with NAWBO. NAWBO is the National Association of Women Business Owners. We support women growing their businesses, anything from a solopreneur up to a multimillion-dollar business.

 

Bank of America supports NAWBO in various ways. One is that they are a sponsor of the national conference, and another is that they’re a supporter of the national and all of the local
chapters.

 

One of the best parts about being in the NAWBO community are the amazing women that I meet and that I connect with both on a personal level and on a business level.

 

I would like the power to support women business owners to have an equal place, and support them in growing their businesses.

 

End Card:

What would you like the power to do?

Bank of America logo

Learn more: bankofamerica.com/Appointment

 

Bank of America and the Bank of America logo are registered trademarks of Bank of America Corporation. All other logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used pursuant to license. Bank of America, N.A. provides informational reading material for your discussion or review purposes only. Interpretations in this release are not intended, nor implied, to be a substitute for the professional advice received from a qualified accountant, attorney or financial advisor. Neither Bank of America, its affiliates nor their employees provide legal, accounting or tax advice. Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC © 2019 Bank of America Corporation.

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Halloween was the best when I was a kid.

 

Tricking, treating, running, laughing and eating our way into sugar oblivion, we roamed the neighborhood in search of, if not the next big thing, then at least the next big candy haul.

 

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Halloween today is different, and not just for the kids - especially not just for the kids. Maybe you have noticed that these days it is the adults who tend to run wild on Halloween. According to the National Retail Federation:

 

  • Since 2009, spending on Halloween by adults has more than doubled – from a little over $4 billion to now almost $9 billion a year
  • 47% of all adults said they expected to dress in costume this year
  • 29 million people plan to dress their pets in costume for Halloween

 

As a small business, you may be tempted to avoid the Halloween boo-ha-habut let me suggest that embracing the spirit of the holiday is – if not more fruitful – then at least very sweet (and if you think I am out of Halloween puns, you are sadly mistaken!)

 

Here’s how:

 

Make your store and neighborhood super kid awesome. Given that trick-or-treating is now often done in more controlled environments with lots of supervision, it has become an opportunity for the smart small business owner.

 

Look to team up with nearby businesses and with your neighborhood association to make your business/office building/block/area a Halloween destination for kids and parents.

 

  • Decorate the store: Outfitting the shop in a Halloween motif is an easy win. Add orange and black to the windows, put pumpkins on the stoop, and even consider playing some “spooky” music in the days and weeks around the holiday. Halloween decorations are fun for everyone – customers, passers-by, employees, and ghosts and goblins of all ages.

 

  • Prepare the neighborhood: While you are at it, look to add some street decorations and be sure your business neighbors are ready with candy for the kids and coffee and other treats for the adults.

 

After that, make sure to advertise that your area will be a fun Halloween destination leading up to and on Halloween.

 

Then, rather than being a “ghost” town on Halloween, yours will be super-ghoul.

 

Get Even Spookier

 

Here are a few additional ideas:

 

  • Have a pumpkin carving contest, with the winner getting a store discount.

 

  • Welcome costumes: A costume contest – or even just allowing your staff to dress up in their costumes during Halloween week – is not only fun, it is also a social media winner. Posting pictures on Instagram and Facebook of the different costumes in your shop (and of the pumpkin contest!) will generate some social media love.

 

  • Party on: Everybody has a holiday party, but you can be different – and just maybe better – by hosting a Halloween party. Given that folks without kids are often looking for something to do on Halloween, making your business a destination that night will allow folks to eat, drink and be scary.

 

  • Offer Halloween deals: Finally, remember that people always love a good deal. If Halloween is your excuse, it’s not a bad one. By offering a sale on something tangentially related to the holiday, you can gain some holiday traction.

 

Go ahead, jump in. Halloween is all the rage. Doing so will allow you to creep it real!

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngSteven 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 also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice. Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

To what do women business owners owe their success—and what remains to be done to help the next generation of women entrepreneurs?

 

Bank of America recently released its 2019 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight, its fourth annual study exploring women entrepreneurs’ goals and challenges. Here’s a closer look at the findings.

 

Women Business Owners Are Optimistic

 

Women in the survey are optimistic about their businesses’ futures, with ambitious growth plans. In fact, they are more likely than men to plan to hire, expand or apply for a loan in the next 12 months. (The survey polled both men and women entrepreneurs with $100,000-$4,999,999 in annual revenues and two-99 employees.)

 

Some 84% of the women surveyed expect their revenues to grow year-over-year. What’s more, 52% expect their local economies to improve, and 47% expect the national economy to improve.

 

Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Concerns

 

However, women business owners also have significant concerns about the future. Over the next 12 months, their biggest concerns are:

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Digging deeper into how women feel about access to capital, the report uncovered some unsettling news.

 

  • Although most women entrepreneurs believe access to capital has improved over the past 10 years, 58% say they don’t have the same access to capital as their male counterparts.
  • Only 34% of women surveyed believe women business owners will ever gain equal access to capital. On average, they believe it won’t happen until 2033.
  • And 24% of the women surveyed don’t think women will everhave equal access to capital.

 

Part of the problem: 54% of men entrepreneurs surveyed think women business owners alreadyhave equal access to capital. Business financing options such as venture capital, angel investment and bank loans are still predominantly overseen by men. If men don’t see a problem, it’s hard for the situation to change.

 

What Would Help Women Business Owners Most?

 

The survey posed several societal changes that could possibly occur in the next five years, and asked women which one would have the biggest effect on leveling the playing field for the next generation of women entrepreneurs. Here’s what they said:

 

  • Having more women in powerful positions of influence 35%
  • Pay equity 22%
  • Creating stronger networks of women 12%
  • Redefining gender norms 10%
  • Achieving equal access to capital 8%

 

Fortunately, there are things we can all do to help these changes come about.

 

  • Seek opportunities to promote women into leadership roles in your business. Mentor female employees or match women employees with mentors in your business to cultivate their skills.
  • Commit to pay equity in your business. Learn more about pay equity and do a self-audit of your business.
  • Grow your network of women. Join organizations for women business owners such as NAWBOeWomenNetwork or the American Business Women’s Association. Look for a local networking group for women or start your own.
  • Get involved in organizations that mentor girls and young women. (More than half of women in Bank of America’s survey say having a mentor was key to their entrepreneurial success.) Mentor girls in STEM careers, help girls “be bold” through Girls Inc., or be part of the Enterprising Women Foundation’s mentoring initiative.
  • Be a role model for girls and young women in your life. It doesn’t have to be all about business: The top factors women in the survey say contributed to their entrepreneurial success include getting a college degree (62%), participating in the arts (35%), playing competitive sports (30%) and serving on student council (26%).
  • Put your money where your mouth is by investing in women business owners worldwide through Kiva or Women for Women.

 

Women entrepreneurs can take heart in knowing we have the power to effect change. By helping other women, you can create a better world for all women entrepreneurs. 

 

    Read next:

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Americans have long had a passion for pets, but millennials are taking that interest to new heights.

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Since 2017, when millennials surpassed baby boomers as the largest single group of pet owners (35% vs. 32% respectively), they’ve been spending lavishly on “luxury, high-design and high-quality products and services,” JWT Intelligence reports.

 

Seven in 10 millennials own a pet; they spend $67 billion annually on pet dogs and $33.5 billion annually on pet cats.

 

What’s different about millennial pet owners, and how can you capture your share of this booming market? Read on.

 

Why Millennial Pet Owners Are Such a Hot Market

 

According to a Wakefield Research survey, there are three characteristics making millennial pet owners an especially promising target market:

 

    • Exhibitionists: Nine in 10 millennials are on social networks; many have a social media account just for their pets.
    • Conscientious: Millennials strive to keep their pets healthy with organic pet food, wellness supplements and dog day-cares for exercise. Not surprisingly then, 60% of millennials say their pets eat better than they do.
    • Impulsive: Millennials are more likely to splurge on pet products and services, such as fancy pet beds or expensive treats, than other age groups. In fact, many millennials say they splurge more often on their pets than on themselves.

 

What Pet Products and Services Are Popular?

 

Food

Food is the biggest pet-related expense for millennials, who prefer foods that are grain free, have “superfood” additions or limited ingredients for special diets. Millennials seek authenticity and demand transparency regarding pet food ingredients and where the ingredients are sourced.

 

Technology

Millennials use tech to stay connected to their pets. More than half of millennial pet owners use pet-related technology, including health and nutrition apps (24%), pet monitoring cameras (22%), smart toys (20%) and tracking devices (20%). Rover connects pet owners with pet services; PetSafe sells high-tech pet gadgets like training collars.

 

Home Goods

One-third of millennials who bought their first homein 2017 said needing more space for their dog was a factor. Among non-homeowning millennials, 42% say their dog (or their desire to get one) would be a factor in buying a home. Millennials seek home goods that not only serve a pet purpose (like hiding a litter box) but look good doing so. They also want products that help their pets get exercise, be comfortable and be safe at home.

 

Health Care

Veterinary care is the second-biggest pet-related expense for millennials; many are turning to non-mainstream alternatives to help keep their pets healthy. Nearly a quarter pamper their pets with aromatherapy, reflexology or naturopathy; 26% have given pets massage, chiropractic, acupuncture or physical therapy. Anti-anxiety products to reduce pets’ stress, natural wellness and healthcare products, and CBD products are all popular.

 

Pet Care

Dog day care, pet hotels (that is, boarding), pet-sitting and pet walking are all reliable business opportunities, but you need to add a touch of luxury. Millennials expect a high-end, personalized experience, such as cameras to watch their pets remotely and detailed reports on the pet’s day.

 

Transportation

Whether they consider pets an accessory or think of them as part of the family, 61% of millennials say pets must be portable. (For example, 53% believe eating with their pets at restaurants is “essential.”) Pet strollers, tote-style carriers, and backpack or front carriers are popular, and retail site Zulily regularly sells out of “pet-pouch hoodies”—sweatshirts with a front pouch to carry a pet.

 

Pet Clothing and Accessories

Some 92% of millennial pet owners buy their pets gifts such as toys, clothing and treats; 51% do so at least monthly. Millennials are twice as likely as boomers to buy their pets clothing (60% do so). Essentially, any pet accessory that can create an Insta-worthy pet photo is likely to sell well.

 

Pet Parent Accessories

More than eight in 10 millennial pet owners have bought merchandise to advertise their proud pet parenthood. The most popular are calendars (43%), clothing (42%), cups/mugs (37%), door signs or welcome mats (33%), and wall art (32%).

 

Zulily reports millennials generally prefer to buy pet food, accessories and toys online, but would rather buy treats, bedding and clothing in person. If you’re planning to start a brick-and-mortar pet store, keep it “boutique” with unique, authentic and upscale products. Make sure you and your employees are knowledgeable about pets and product lines—almost two-thirds of millennials think they know more about pets than pet-store employees do.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

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In this episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” Reema Shroff, owner of Frost 321, shares how she beat the competition by turning liquid nitrogen ice cream and cocktails into an experience that tantalizes the senses and leaves a lasting impression. Listen to her story—and get great tips for standing out from the crowd—below.

 

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“The Heartbeat of Main Street” delivers timely insights tailored to the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Featuring a rotating line-up of small business experts and industry leaders – and covering a range of topics – each episode explores the trends that have an impact on revenue creation for small business owners.

The series is hosted by ForbesBooks, and more information can be accessed through a dedicated home page. New episodes will appear regularly on the Small Business Community podcast page. Be sure to check back often – so you don’t miss a beat.

 

Narrator:                Welcome to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.comand Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com. And here's your host, Steve Strauss.

 

Steve Strauss:       Today we're really pleased to be speaking with Reema Shroff of Frost 321. Frost 321 uses an innovative technique to create ice creams, sorbets, and I like this one, frozen cocktails, right before your eyes at events. How do they do it? Well, by using liquid nitrogen at negative 321 degrees, Frost 321 creates these unique concoctions.

                               

They have been doing this at corporate events and important celebrations and backyard gatherings and all sorts of other places for years, and they don't just deliver delicacies. Frost 321 brings a unique ice cream and cocktail bar designed to be chic and sophisticated, blending with any event's distinct look, and letting the experience itself really shine. So Reema, great to have you on the show today. Welcome.

 

Reema Shroff:       Thanks Steve. Great to be here.

 

Steve Strauss:       So I explained a little bit about what makes Frost 321 unique, but I think it would be far better if you did it. So tell us about your ice cream and your cocktails and how you make them and what is different about them.

 

Reema Shroff:       Absolutely. You're right on the mark. What we do create is unique cocktail and dessert experiences. What we're doing is using liquid nitrogen as a freezing agent to freeze right in front of our guests frozen cocktails, sorbets, ice creams, boozy snow cones. The newest thing that's hot for the summer, a drink called a Frosé.

 

                                   What we can do is take an experience, take a menu, take an event, take a celebration, take a company gathering, make it unique, make it customized, and do this right in front of our guests. So what it is, it's not just a great product, it's not just a great frozen cocktail or an ice cream, but truly what it is is an experience. So when we have the gathering, when you see us, you not only remember the product, you remember the experience. This is an experience you can share with your friends, you can share with your coworkers, you can tape on social media.

 

                                   That's what we love about it and that's where we get most of our repeat business from, is that memorable piece of this which is the experience. Now what makes the difference is liquid nitrogen has been used for years by chefs in their back kitchen. It's truly a great way to make an ice cream or a frozen cocktail.

 

                               However, what we try to do is also to make it truly an experience where people can enjoy seeing it being made, where we can tailor the experience to the actual event. Also what we've done is, because my background is ... I'm a lawyer, and my business partner is a West Point grad and an amazing engineer ... We have tried to make this as safe as possible and as scalable as possible.

 

                                So let me kind of explain on that a little bit more. From a safety standpoint, you are dealing with liquid nitrogen that's a negative 321 degrees below zero. So what we want to do is just make it safe, make it where any staff member we can train on safely operating this machinery, to make it safe at any event.

 

                                As you know, we have done this in backyards, we have done this on golf courses, we've even done it on a yacht, on top of a rooftop, so we have to make it safe in a lot of different instances. Then on the scalability standpoint we can do parties of 500, but we've done parties of 5,000. So we need to make sure that we can produce these cocktails and ice creams in a very efficient manner.

 

                                In fact, the way that we've designed the machines is one of our machines taken to its capacity could easily make about 500 servings in an hour. And when we do very large events, like our 5,000 person events, for example in Vegas, we can put several machines on and make this experience for all of our guests.

 

Steve Strauss:        Oh, that's super. You're doing lots of things right, but one of the things I really love that you're doing that other people can learn from is you're personalizing it and you're making it an experience. Those are kind of the buzzwords in small business these days. Because there is so much competition and there is so much technology available, people love a personalized experience and they love an experience experience.

 

                                So you're doing that right, and I must say as a former lawyer myself, I love that you too have come to your senses and found something better to do. So let me ask you this Reema, how did you get started? How did you leave the legal world and end up becoming an ice cream entrepreneur?

 

Reema Shroff:         Well, as fellow lawyer you know one of the big things in being a lawyer, and I was a healthcare lawyer, and especially in the healthcare sector you're always telling physicians what not to do, what business they should not engage in, here are the risk factors, all of that.

 

                                Whereas I loved that ... Both my parents are physicians, my husband is a doctor and all of that, I wanted to actually create something. I mean there is ... Every day as an entrepreneur working in this business there's a challenge, there's a reward, there's an opportunity, and it's really, really satisfying to me to be able to create something, to go to an event and see what we have created.

 

                                The reward is when people try it, when people see it, when people talk about it, that's really what's satisfying, and that's something that couldn't as easily get in being a lawyer. So here every day, no matter what the challenges I face are, there's definitely something very rewarding at the end of the ... To have been creative and have someone taste the product.

 

Steve Strauss:        Absolutely. I mean that's what I love about it too, working with entrepreneurs and being one, is the idea of you're creating something. But how did you come up with the idea of creating ice cream at negative 321 degrees? That is really different.

 

Reema Shroff:        Well, that is a great story. You never know how things happen, but truly this was a great story. I was actually in Paris. I was at an amazing wedding and I saw this in a certain way being made, using liquid nitrogen to create this experience for great cocktails. You know, it's something ... On the way back from Paris to Texas, you know, we had an eight hour flight, so over a glass of champagne just kind of talking about the wedding, what really stood out was this really interesting cocktail.

 

                                You saw it being made, you saw the mist, and it was a good cocktail. So it's actually funny, my family was like, "Wow, you like cocktails and you like parties. This is something you should try." It really started with something like that.

 

                                So I started researching it, found a couple of articles on it, found some companies that actually were working on these type of systems, and literally ordered one and started in my kitchen. Invited friends over for a party, got some feedback on it, and it really just kind of took off from there. But I had no idea of kind of where this would be four years later, but it's something that I just had to try.

 

Steve Strauss:        Did you ... Obviously your parents aren't entrepreneurs. They're both physicians, your husband is a physician. Did you have entrepreneurial bent earlier in life or was this all together something out of the blue for you?

 

Reema Shroff:         You know, looking back on it I think that ... You know, I was fine being a lawyer, but I think that there was always something missing. I'm pretty social. I'm an extrovert. I like to engage and be with people, so I think this type of business for me allows me to really, you know, focus on what I really enjoy and I think what my forte is.

 

                                So it just kind of all came together, and I'm so happy that I had the support of my family, my friends, and I was in a position to be able to reach out to my network and be able to develop this. So it's been a great ride.

 

Steve Strauss:        Yeah. In fact you've grown it pretty substantially pretty quickly. You're not only in Texas now, but you're also in Las Vegas, and I think you're branching out into San Diego, if I'm not mistaken?

 

Reema Shroff:         Oh, yeah. So I mean we started this in San Antonio. We've grown to Dallas, Houston, Austin, and then slowly took this to other markets, I mean Vegas, Miami, Phoenix, Chicago. So it's been an amazing journey and I think what we've right now done is hit national markets.

 

                                In fact that's a great question, because what we've been wanting to do is figure out how to expand this nationally, and in fact in about mid-October we're working with a franchise company to be able to franchise this and expand nationally, so we're really excited about that.

 

                                   But the key to all of this was ... And this is a very interesting story. It comes to how I met my business partner. As I mentioned, I was still practicing as a lawyer in the early days of Frost and I actually was working on a legal case, and I happened to sit next to a gentleman, Mark, who was helping on that same case, and we started talking about my business and he said something very interesting, and that is, "Wow, you're working with liquid nitrogen. It seems like a great concept. You've actually done a lot of events. You seem to be moving quickly, but hey, you should own your own system. You shouldn't rely on other people to do that. You should actually build your own. That's the core to your business."

 

                                Of course I laughed and I said, "Hey, that's easier said than done. I don't really have manufacturing contacts. I'm not an engineer. I've never designed anything before. My forte is marketing, business development, creating these experiences," and he basically looked at me and he said, "Well, guess what? I have those contacts and I would love to be able to help with this."

 

                                So it's one of those really amazing moments where I sat next to the right person at a business dinner, and it has been a great three years, where we complement each other very well. He is the technology, the brains behind the operation. He's a former West Point grad and a engineer, and he's developed the whole liquid nitrogen system. So where he has the strength on the technology and operations, I'm able more to focus on the marketing and the business development. So it's been really, you know, a great combination of strengths and attributes that really have helped us along quite well.

 

Steve Strauss:        Boy, everything is really working out so well for you, because that's exactly what I think you want in a partnership. You want somebody who fills in your gaps and can do things that you can't do, and then all of a sudden the whole really is greater than the sum of the parts, and obviously you're doing that well.

 

                                  Can you tell me a little bit about the alcohol aspect of it? Because you're not just making ice creams, but you're making adult beverages with your technology. How did that come to be and how is that ... How popular is that among your clientele?

 

Reema Shroff:         Well, I cannot underscore more that alcohol really is what drives a lot of our business. Almost 80% of our revenue comes from our spirited ice cream, our frozen cocktails, our boozy snow cones, our spirited floats. So yes, because that is really what's unique about this, because there's no other way you can freeze alcohol.

 

                                So when we actually do one of our most popular items, is our wicked chocolate whiskey with Maker's Mark. That is a true shot of Maker's Mark in your chocolate ice cream. It's an awesome after dinner treat. People love their Maker's Mark, so here now we're putting it into ice cream. We do the same with tequila, with rum, with vodka. We've been able to partner with a lot of different alcohol companies because it's a different way to feature and showcase their spirit.

 

                                Remember, we can do this not only with the liquors, but we can do that wine and champagne and, gosh, even a great beer for a stout ice cream. So we've really tried to come up with innovative ways to do frozen cocktails, to bring something new to the market on the spirited ice cream side, and really that's been ... That's done very well at our corporate events and galas and parties and all of that.

 

Steve Strauss:        It sounds like that's probably a unique niche to you. Is there a lot of competition for that aspect of your business?

 

Reema Shroff:        Most of our competition is on the ice cream side. There's a lot of brick and mortars in the space and different types of franchises that you have, or there's retails that are serving ice cream. I think on the special events and catering where our focus ... A lot of it has been on frozen cocktails and the spirited ice cream. We don't find as much competition, but what Mark and I tired to do very early on is to forge really good relationships and partnerships with hotel groups, convention centers.

 

                                For example, we work in McCormick Place, one of the largest convention centers in Chicago, where they offer our services. The same thing with the MGM group. The same thing with Marriotts all over the country. So that's been very nice, is that they are able to sell our services as part of their catering and special events menu.

 

                                That has helped us, where now we have a lot of different arms, a lot of different sales and catering departments selling our services, and we can focus on what we do best, and that is executing and doing our special events and focusing on our creative ice creams and frozen cocktails for the events.

 

Steve Strauss:        We are speaking with Reema Shroff of Frost 321.

 

So Reema, I want to ask you a little bit about the challenges you've faced as a small business owner and entrepreneur, because as we all know it is not just a clear path from idea to execution, right? There are bumps along the way. What are maybe some of the bumps along the way that you faced and how did you overcome them?

 

Reema Shroff:       That's a great question Steve. What I would say is, especially with a small business, you wear a lot of hats. You do operations, you do marketing, you do finance, you're HR, and that all can get overwhelming and sometimes maybe some of these are not your key strengths.

 

We've had to learn along the way all these different aspects, all these little departments that usually you could call HR or you could call somebody to help with, and now that's it. You're on our own. So what I've learned from that is it's essential to listen, it's essential to build the right team, and whereas you might have weaknesses in certain aspects, there are others that can fill in those gaps for you.

 

                              Mark and I, our biggest challenge is we had no experience, prior experience, in the food and beverage industry, so the first thing we did is try and surround ourselves with the right mixologists, the right chefs. Our biggest consultant when we came to designing our menu is one of the top pastry chefs in the country. We listened to people that have worked in retail and worked in food and beverage before, because those were not our areas of expertise.

 

                              So because we were dealing with so many things that were unknown to us, we didn't know what was out there in all these different landscapes because those weren't our prior specialty, what we needed to do was create the right team and build the right network to fill in those gaps.

 

Steve Strauss:       Yeah. I think that's a common lament from many small business people. I guess the good news is you have to become or like being a lifelong learner if you're going to be a small business owner, because you're always having to learn something new, whether you want to or not, right?

 

Reema Shroff:       Yes. Really what I've also learned from that is people are to help. I think there are a lot of resources out there. I think that it's ... Now with the internet, with technology, you can always go onto social media, you can read blogs. There's so much you can do to give you ideas and to help strengthen your position on things and to really every day, just like you said ... I mean we're learning something new every day, so we never stop reading, we never stop talking and building relationships and learning from people around us.

 

Steve Strauss:       You’re branching out into Vegas and you're branching into an area you've not gone before, what ... Is it social media, or how do you attract new people to your business?

 

Reema Shroff:       It's a combination. It's a combination of number one is we focus on our relationships, so we work with people maybe we've worked with in different cities. For example, different hotel groups that we might have worked on in Dallas, we reach out to them when we're in different cities. We think one of the biggest ways that you can grow is by cultivating relationships, making them feel comfortable to trust you and your business to execute events, what they've been doing for years and you're a newcomer. They need to trust you, they need to know that you would do a good job, that you will be on time, that you will be able to execute the way they and their clients will be happy.

 

                              So that's number one. However, with social media we're able to post a lot of the things that we do all over the country, so that's a great way for others to see the different types of parties we can do, the different types of venues we serve, the different types of frozen cocktails and ice creams that we can create to customize their events.

 

                                  So that is a great tool, because that's constantly being updated, and it's a great resource for really anybody who's throwing an event to think of us, because not only are we tagging ourselves, but others are reporting on us and taking visuals whenever we go and do an event for them.

 

Steve Strauss:       Reema, you're doing great work. I love your business and I love your energy and passion for it. We're unfortunately out of time, but I could listen to you for a long time. Let me ask you this in closing. What maybe do you wish you had known about being a small business owner, about being an entrepreneur that you didn't know when you started, and what do you think people can take away and learn from your experience that might help them grow their business?

 

Reema Shroff:        I would it's the importance of having a network, having a support structure. I think that it's so important, and I think in this day and age especially with technology and use of email and texting and all that, it's really important to develop personal connections. I think that being in this business kind of underscored the importance of that for me, because it's very easy to sit at your computer and send out emails and do direct marketing and then text people, and I think people forget sometimes that even though technology has allowed us to do amazing things, that critical to all this is that building a connection and building a relationship. I think that that brings me a lot of joy, I think there's a lot of reward in that, but I think that it's also been critical to the success of our business.

 

Steve Strauss:      Fantastic. Reema, if people want to know more about you, about Frost 321, where should they go to learn more?

 

Reema Shroff:       Our website is a great place, frost321.com. We can answer any emails, we answer any event requests, and we would love to personally speak to anyone that has questions on our business.

 

Steve Strauss:      Fantastic. Thank you so much for being with us today, and continued success to you.

 

Narrator:               For more great small business tips, check out Bank of America's online small business community at bankofamerica.com/sbc.

 

Thanks for listening to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.com

and Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com

Avni Patel started A28 Architecture in 2015.  She had a vision for the type of architect she wanted to be, but “when I first started, I was a very young idealist and I just wanted to create great buildings.”

 

As her career grew, the Chicago architect focused on inclusive, environmentally and tech friendly design ideas to “make life just a little bit easier or better,” Patel said. "There are ways to design that allow a space to be flexible and work for a multitude of users and design ideas.” Patel saw, though, in many of the current small buildings, these design ideas were not typically integrated.

 

 

Patel felt the only way to address such issues – “there were certain things about the building industry that just didn’t make any intuitive sense to me” – and to do it right meant to commission projects so “I could truly focus on the design,” she said. “That’s why A28 was designed to be a real estate investment and architecture firm.”

 

A28_AvniPatel_SBClientStory_Thumbnail.jpg“As I started working, I realized I have to work within the existing reality. Navigating that reality to find a path that led us here wasn’t easy,” she said. “It took a lot of preparation to really understand financing, real estate investment, business, architecture, design, technology, psychology, and engineering well enough to make them work together and develop a business to achieve their integration.”

 

Together with Bank of America she’s able to pursue her dreams of building, both on the job and for her business.

 

Video transcript:

 

[Avni Patel] Architecture was actually, kind of a calling for me. I just knew I needed to be involved with it. I think I just started thinking a lot about how our environment affects us.

 

[Super]

Avni Patel

Founder and CEO

A28 Architecture

 

[Avni Patel] I’m Avni Patel, an architect, and I started my own design firm, A28 Architecture.

 

I think architecture should be flexible enough to accommodate for everyone. It’s here for us.

 

I just want to be able to bring details that big projects get to have, like eco-friendly design, tech-friendly design, to smaller projects likes homes or residential. Whereas right now they don’t get that kind of attention.

 

Being able to get to a point where you’re financially stable. Where the business could then do the projects that we believed in, was very difficult point to get to.

 

[Super]

Gladys Castillo

Small Business Banker

Bank of America

 

[Gladys Castillo] I first met Avni when she came into the financial center for a simple transaction, and that’s how the relationship began.

 

So once I understood Avni’s business, the two biggest things we were able to help her with was how to save her time through our mobile capabilities. And we’re also able to help her establish credit, for her business.

 

[Avni Patel] Gladys is great. She knows what my goals are, and so these steps are aligning with that.

 

[Gladys Castillo] When I am able to work with strong women, and the fact that I can support them and be an advocate for their financial lives, that to me is amazing. I’m proud of Avni, and it makes me feel really good to be able to support her business.

 

[Avni Patel] I would like the power to bring great design to the everyday person.

 

[End Card]

What would you like the power to do?

Bank of America logo

Learn more: bankofamerica.com/Appointment

 

Bank of America and the Bank of America logo are registered trademarks of Bank of America Corporation.  All other logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used pursuant to license. Bank of America, N.A. provides informational reading material for your discussion or review purposes only. Interpretations in this release are not intended, nor implied, to be a substitute for the professional advice received from a qualified accountant, attorney or financial advisor. Neither Bank of America, its affiliates nor their employees provide legal, accounting or tax advice. Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC @ 2019 Bank of America Corporation.

Avni Patel started A28 Architecture in 2015.  She had a vision for the type of architect she wanted to be, but “when I first started, I was a very young idealist and I just wanted to create great buildings.”

 

As her career grew, the Chicago architect focused on inclusive, environmentally and tech friendly design ideas to “make life just a little bit easier or better,” Patel said. "There are ways to design that allow a space to be flexible and work for a multitude of users and design ideas.” Patel saw, though, in many of the current small buildings, these design ideas were not typically integrated.

 

 

Patel felt the only way to address such issues – “there were certain things about the building industry that just didn’t make any intuitive sense to me” – and to do it right meant to commission projects so “I could truly focus on the design,” she said. “That’s why A28 was designed to be a real estate investment and architecture firm.”

 

A28_AvniPatel_SBClientStory_Thumbnail.jpg“As I started working, I realized I have to work within the existing reality. Navigating that reality to find a path that led us here wasn’t easy,” she said. “It took a lot of preparation to really understand financing, real estate investment, business, architecture, design, technology, psychology, and engineering well enough to make them work together and develop a business to achieve their integration.”

 

Together with Bank of America she’s able to pursue her dreams of building, both on the job and for her business.

 

Video transcript:

 

[Avni Patel] Architecture was actually, kind of a calling for me. I just knew I needed to be involved with it. I think I just started thinking a lot about how our environment affects us.

 

[Super]

Avni Patel

Founder and CEO

A28 Architecture

 

[Avni Patel] I’m Avni Patel, an architect, and I started my own design firm, A28 Architecture.

 

I think architecture should be flexible enough to accommodate for everyone. It’s here for us.

 

I just want to be able to bring details that big projects get to have, like eco-friendly design, tech-friendly design, to smaller projects likes homes or residential. Whereas right now they don’t get that kind of attention.

 

Being able to get to a point where you’re financially stable. Where the business could then do the projects that we believed in, was very difficult point to get to.

 

[Super]

Gladys Castillo

Small Business Banker

Bank of America

 

[Gladys Castillo] I first met Avni when she came into the financial center for a simple transaction, and that’s how the relationship began.

 

So once I understood Avni’s business, the two biggest things we were able to help her with was how to save her time through our mobile capabilities. And we’re also able to help her establish credit, for her business.

 

[Avni Patel] Gladys is great. She knows what my goals are, and so these steps are aligning with that.

 

[Gladys Castillo] When I am able to work with strong women, and the fact that I can support them and be an advocate for their financial lives, that to me is amazing. I’m proud of Avni, and it makes me feel really good to be able to support her business.

 

[Avni Patel] I would like the power to bring great design to the everyday person.

 

[End Card]

What would you like the power to do?

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The 2019 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight explores the unique goals, challenges and everyday realities of women entrepreneurs across the country. This year’s findings show high anticipation for year-over-year revenue growth

and optimism for a better 2020.

 

WSBM-Snap.jpgOver the next 12 months, more women entrepreneurs plan to expand their business and hire new employees than their male counterparts.

 

Women business owners maintain a positive economic outlook with confidence levels holding steady from last year while concern over health care costs and the political environment has decreased and concerns about consumer spending and credit availability increased.

 

This year’s Spotlight also explores access to capital and societal issues. Although women believe access to capital has improved more than half say they still don’t have equal access to capital.

 

Want to know more?

Download the 2019 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight

 

Learn more about resources for women entrepreneurs from Bank of America.

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