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2020

You’ve decided to start a new business. You have a great idea, put together a talented team, and now need to pick a name. Although a seemingly simple task, there are legal bench-accounting-C3V88BOoRoM-unsplash.jpgterms and acronyms you need to familiarize yourself with as you settle on a name for your business.

 

There are several options for naming your business: 1. Operate under a legal name; 2. Use the name of the business owner, or 3. Pick out a fictitious name. One crucial acronym, DBA – which stands for ‘doing business as’ represents a company or individual running a business under a fictitious name. If you decide on the last option, a DBA is the way to go.

 

Benefits of a DBA

 

If you don’t want to operate under your own name, registering a DBA name is a great option for you. Your name defines your brand and is how the public gets its first impression. When the name reflects the services your business offers, your clients are given a sense of clarity right off the bat and have a reason to start doing business with you.

 

A DBA gives you the option to create a business account separate from your personal account. This will serve as a safety net for your personal finances. To open-up a separate business account, you need an EIN (employer identification number), which you receive when you file a DBA. Other benefits include its low cost and ease of filing, protection of privacy, and the flexibility to expand into markets where the legal name of the business is being used.

 

DBA vs. LLC

 

Another significant attribute of a DBA is that you, as an individual, are the one carrying on business. On the other hand, when you form an LLC, you are creating a separate legal entity. This entity carries on business from that point on, rather than you as an individual. It’s also important to note that costs for registering an LLC is also higher than a DBA.

 

DBA Considerations

Now that you understand the benefits of doing business as DBA, here are three things you should consider.

 

  1. State Regulated - DBA names are regulated by state laws. Simply put, you need to register the name to a regulatory body such as Secretary of State or Division of Corporations. Keep in mind, state laws prohibit using a DBA name that has already been registered. So, don’t hesitate to get creative!

 

  1. Registration Process - The overall process differs by state; however, you essentially need to fill out a short form with basic information about the business and choose a fictitious name for the company. There are fee requirements of up to $100 depending on local regulations when submitting, and the information will be put in the public records.

 

  1. Protect Your Business Identity - Now that the name and business you operate is in the public records, you need to protect it. Make sure you know which states you are registered in to do business and ensure that access to the data about your business is secured with a username and a strong password.

 

Additional Reading

Why did you start your business? neonbrand-JW6r_0CPYec-unsplash (1).jpg

 

There are, of course, all sorts of reasons that someone becomes an entrepreneur: passion, boredom, necessity, inspiration, liberation . . . you name it. But even so, it is also safe to say that there is one reason you did not start a business:

 

A love of budgeting.

 

Indeed, I would venture that creating a budget – or “the B word” as I like to call it – ranks near the bottom of those things that a small business owner has to do (if they do it at all.)

 

And the reason is self-evident. If you are like most small business owners, then you likely think along these lines:

 

  • Budgets constrict
  • Budgets are complicated
  • Budgets are boring

 

But what if I was to tell you making a budget is easy but moreover, that creating a budget is liberating?

 

It’s true.

 

A big problem, of course, is that B word. With so many negative connotations associated with it, no wonder you don’t want to create one. Think of it this way instead:

 

Would you ever get in a car, start it, then put on a blindfold and drive away?

 

Of course not. With a blindfold on, you would never know if you were headed in the right direction. You wouldn’t know if you needed to slow down or speed up. How would you know if you needed to pivot – err – turn in a new direction? And what if a red warning light started flashing? With a blindfold on, you would never know there was danger ahead.

 

A budget is simply the process of taking off the blindfold so you can navigate the entrepreneurial highway clearly.

 

So, instead of calling it a “budget,” try calling it a “plan.” What is your plan for your business? How much money do you have and need to execute on your plan? That is all a budget really is.

 

Would you like to spend more money on Facebook ads this quarter? Great, then do so. All you need do then is look at your plan, decide how much you want to spend and then decide how to pay for them. If that means less entertaining, so be it. You decide what your priorities are. It is your plan after all.

 

How to Make a Budget

 

Here is how you make a financial plan for your business, a.k.a., a budget:

 

Step 1: Go over your expenses for the past three months and categorize them. If you have a tool like QuickBooks, this should be easy, but even if you don’t, it should be fairly painless. How much did you spend on:

 

  • Rent: $
  • Labor: $
  • Taxes: $
  • Inventory: $
  • Marketing and advertising: $
  • Taxes and insurance: $
  • Capital expenditures: $

 

And so on. It’s your business, your plan, so make this list your own.

 

Step 2: Decide if this is the best use of your precious capital. Maybe you want to spend less on marketing next quarter and more for hiring contractors to help carry your load. Great! Start a similar list, add a category called “Independent contractors,” and next to it, add a realistic number. Then you just need to cut back in a few other areas to make the numbers crunch.

 

Voila, you just created a budget.

 

See, that’s wasn’t so tough, was it? Instead of your finances running you, you are running them. You figured out how to get some extra help, and even how to pay for it.

 

And there you have it. You just took the blindfold off and made a budget, oops, I mean a plan.

 

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 Steve+Strauss+Headshot+SBC.pngcolumn 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. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Do you ever feel that you’re the only business out there who can’t invest much right now, and who believes a recession might be around the corner?

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And if your hunch becomes reality, does your business have all it needs to survive – and perhaps thrive?  There are three questions you should ask yourself when thinking about what you have versus what you want:

 

The first question is this: who does this help?

 

If something helps customers (especially the acquisition of more customers), that’s likely where your dollars should flow versus when it’s something that improves the quality of business and life for employees.

 

The second question, will this make us money?

 

Let’s say you run a business that accepts cash and credit/debit cards, but your customers are saying that if you accepted alternative funding like Venmo or PayPal, they’d be more inclined to do business with you. Naturally, it’s worth considering.

 

Hardest of all to answer is can we make do?

 

I’ve never met a company that doesn’t hate its current website design. Usually the second day after you launch a new website, you start to hate it. The layout is wrong, or you worry people can’t find what they need and so on. Almost always, your site is “good enough” to earn attention and guide people where they need to go.

 

And sometimes, thinking about making do requires creativity.

 

Resourceful People Thrive in Tough Times

 

It’s amazing what we think we need until we’re forced to consider operating without it. When I launched my business in 2009, I had an office in Massachusetts and an office in Maine to house my small team. We rolled along doing our work for a while before three important details dawned on me:

 

1. Rent costs a lot.

2. No customers ever came to our offices. We went to them.

3. Working at home is almost everyone’s preference.

 

I saved about $8,000 dollars a month almost instantly. Now, your business might not be something that can be run virtually. You might have to find another area to be resourceful and clever. But it’s out there.

 

Does your business really need a printer? Think about the money saved in ink and paper expenses monthly. Are you traveling to four or five conferences this year? Can you skip two?

 

Make Do In Marketing and Advertising with Technology

 

Marketing and advertising can cost a lot of money. Or it can be free. You might be inclined to think that paid efforts are better than free. Sometimes, that’s a very true fact. Other times, our free efforts land us more success than when we spend.

 

Is what you sell something visually appealing like food or clothes or even construction? Instagram is a great platform to earn some attention that can translate to business.

 

Have you used LinkedIn to publish interesting articles and videos? More and more people are slowly learning that LinkedIn isn’t that old site where you stick a digital copy of a resumé. It’s a thriving content hub where people go to learn and explore.

 

Recommended Reading:  Top 5 LinkedIn Strategies to Grow Your Business

 

Do you have a YouTube channel? YouTube is the No. 2 search engine in the world (Google is No.1 and they own YouTube). Publish how-to videos and interviews with satisfied customers and behind-the-scenes videos and so much more. This costs nothing more than some time, getting a little better with your smartphone, and being brave.

 

Recommended Reading: Tips and Tricks for Fast, Easy Video Content

 

Don’t forget Facebook. In my small town, a very small local store throws events so often that you wonder whether they ever have a “regular” day without one. The events are free to post on Facebook, and with just a little bit of ingenuity around thinking up themes, they have a constant stream of people stopping by the store for the themed experience that matches their interest.

 

Read articles from Mari Smith, Premier Facebook Marketing Expert

 

Spend a little time on Twitter search (search.twitter.com) and type in your locale and see what comes up. A restauranteur friend of mine used to “stalk” people coming to Milwaukee and then personally invite them into one of his four restaurants. It got him on ESPN, then another larger news story, and eventually brought him so much success he can hardly catch his breath. All from Twitter searches (and good food).

 

Constraints Are your Creative Best Friend

 

To stay on the theme of restaurants a moment longer, it turns out that most of the restaurants succeeding right now are those with smaller and more specific menus. Barring the typical Chinese Restaurant experience which has endless pages, most of the growing food chains in the U.S. sell just a few items and do it well.

 

By looking at your business the same way, you might find areas to consider cutting to focus on growing one aspect even more.

 

Constraints are great for being creative. If you must do more with less, it pushes you to consider methods and means that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

 

Can you make do? Of course you can!

 

You’ve got a lot to offer your customers, and they look forward to seeing you ride out any potential recession and make it through to better times again.

 

About Chris Brogan

 

Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better chris-brogan-headshot.jpgsupport 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 advises leadership 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

Caulipower founder and CEO, Gail Becker, wasn’t afraid to tap into the competitive food industry when she launched her successful company that took the frozen food section by storm. This episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street” covers the goal and vision behind Caulipower, the obstacles Gail Becker faced as a new female entrepreneur, and the support she found through NAWBO.

 

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

 

Gregg Stebben:          I'm here with Gail Becker. She's the founder and CEO of the company, Caulipower. I'm going to say that again in case you think I said cauliflower. I didn't. I said Caulipower. The website is eatcaulipower.com. They're on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram @Caulipower. Gail, welcome.

 

Gail Becker:                Thank you. Thanks so much for having me.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I want to start this interview by saying that you and your company, you and your team, are 100% responsible for my dinner last night.

 

Gail Becker:                That might be the best interview start I've ever heard.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Well, you can hear the bag. I'm wrinkling it in the background here. I had the Spicy(ish) Chicken Tenders, and they're pretty spicy for spicy-ish.

 

Gail Becker:                You know what? Some people think they're spicy. Some people think they're not spicy, so we decided to beg the difference and call them spicy-ish.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I'm going to really heap a lot of praise on you, your company, the product that I had for dinner last night, and what you've done. But I have to tell you one of the best advertisements I've seen in a long time was on your website. So, I knew I was going to be talking to you today. I was doing my research yesterday, and I said I'm going to go get some Caulipower product to try before we talk, because it would be rude of me not to.

 

Gail Becker:                Thank you.

 

Gregg Stebben:          And there was this ad on your website of a woman holding a bag of your chicken tenders. And it said, "I can't believe I ate the whole bag." Only ... I'm looking for the number here. 490 calories? I mean, I've memorized the ad. Only 490 calories. And I knew when I saw that that two things were going to happen before I went to bed last night.

 

                                    I knew I was going to have some Spicy(ish) Chicken Tenders. And I knew, knowing myself as I do, that I was going to do just as she did and I was going to get the entire bag.

 

Gail Becker:                And you didn't have to feel too bad about it.

 

Gregg Stebben:          No, I felt ... First of all, delicious. Easy to make. And the other thing that was interesting to me ... and I just want to say this because it was kind of a real lesson for me in this. I never eat frozen food. Just going to that aisle was an eye-opener for me of all the probably really unhealthy food, and there I was with your chicken tenders reading the back of the bag, and thinking of myself, "This, as promised, is a really healthy option." And it was delicious, too.

 

Gail Becker:                Thank you. That's such a nice thing to hear. The frozen food section has changed a lot over the years for the better, definitely. There's some room to go, but the point is there's something for everybody.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Yes, yes. Well, I discovered that. I think I found my go-to. I do not think we will ever have a freezer without at least one bag of your chicken tenders for an emergency dinner.

 

Gail Becker:                Oh my gosh. Made my day.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Yes.

 

Gail Becker:                Today is all downhill from here.

 

Gregg Stebben:          So, you're ... I hope not. I hope it only gets better and better during the course of this interview. So, the company is Caulipower. What is Caulipower? What is the company? What are your products? And how on earth did you come to make a company called Caulipower?

 

Gail Becker:                The last question is probably the most tricky. I'll start with the easy part. Caulipower is a company that, quite simply, brings meal hacks to life. Better for you, easier, more convenient, and never sacrificing taste for nutrition or convenience. It's a frozen food company. I started it in ... I had left corporate America in May of 2016 and launched the company in February of 2017.

 

Gregg Stebben:          So, you're a newbie at this.

 

Gail Becker:                Super newbie.  We punch above our weight.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I want to take note of the fact that you're new in this business, and getting in the food business cannot be easy. I mean, there's a lot of hurdles you have to jump through far beyond making more common, unregulated consumer products.

 

Gail Becker:                Yeah, no. There are definitely easier industries to go into. I will not lie. But I have to say, it's also an industry that is very welcoming of innovation, welcoming of entrepreneurs, and new blood. While in some ways it's one of the more challenging to break into, in other ways it's actually very welcoming of the innovation that is often brought by small businesses.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Your original product, if I understand correctly, was cauliflower pizza crust under the name Caulipower. Correct? I eat a lot of cauliflower. I make cauliflower rice and things like that. I didn't know that cauliflower pizza crust was a thing. How did this become such a thing that you thought you should start a business revolving around it?

 

Gail Becker:                I'm the mom of two boys with celiac disease, and they were diagnosed at such a young age that there was no gluten free food in the store. Every time they needed something, I would have to make it from scratch, or order it from some funky company that you never heard of online. What I began to notice over the years was how much junk the industry was putting in gluten free food. More fat, sugar, and calories, and less nutrients.

                                    I sort of waited for the industry to do something about it. And when I saw that they never did, I decided to leave corporate America and do it myself. Now, I didn't invent cauliflower crust pizzas. I tried it one time. I've actually only made it at home one time. People find that hard to believe, but it was only one time. And-

 

Gregg Stebben:          You mean the traditional from scratch way?

 

Gail Becker:                Well, yeah.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I'm assuming you've eaten your product many times.

 

Gail Becker:                My product many, many, many times. But I'm saying when I first started, I made ... there were 569,000 recipes online. I just picked one. I couldn't even tell you which one I picked. I made it. It was okay. My sons asked if I would make it again. And I said, "There is no way I'm making that again, because it took 90 minutes to make the crust after I got home from a full day of work."

 

Gregg Stebben:          Right? And you still have to make the pizza.

 

Gail Becker:                And you still have to make the pizza. By the way, it's kind of insulting that people even think that I have time for that. I thought, "Well, I can't be the only one." Clearly there's all these people who are struggling to do this. I was disenchanted with corporate life. I was ready for a change. My father had just passed away, and I was really looking to do something more meaningful. I put all of those three things in a blender, and basically what I came out with was, "Hey, I know. I'm going to quit my job and start a company called Caulipower." And that is exactly what I did.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Looking at your background and looking at it on LinkedIn ... I mean, you have a fascinating background that includes ... you were a reporter, you worked on the Clinton/Gore campaign, you made a transition from there to the Department of Health and Human Services. Then you ended up as the president of Strategic Partnerships and Global Integration for Edelman, which is a huge global ... I guess, would you call it a communications company?

 

Gail Becker:                Yeah. It's the largest PR firm in the world.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Okay, so the largest PR firm in the world. What's interesting is on one hand I would think, "Well, there's probably some things there that would make it easy for you to start a business." Or at least you would have some insights that others might not. But there would have been nothing there to make me think you would, again, start ... not just a food company, but a very, very specific type of food company making very specific products with this real promise. I think you called them food hacks.

 

                                   But really, when I look at your product line, I think what you're really promising to do is to give me a better way to eat at home conveniently and in a very healthy way. How much of an impact, or how much of a benefit do you think you got from your previous experience? And what were the things that were the hardest for you to learn that nothing had ever prepared you for?

 

Gail Becker:                I would say in terms of my background, the things that probably helped the most was actually my time in the corporate world. At my prior job, I ran a lot of the businesses for the company. But I also worked on a lot of clients. I had a lot of exposure to how to build a brand, how not to build a brand, and things to do from a marketing perspective that would help tell your story to consumers.

 

                                   That was a huge benefit to me in starting my own brand. And it's funny when you come from the consulting world, because you sort of spend all those years giving advice to people. Sometimes they take it and sometimes they don't. One of the great things about starting your own company is you get to always take your advice.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Or sometimes you take it and sometimes you don't.

 

Gail Becker:                Yeah, exactly. Sometimes you regret taking it. So, that was a huge help. I would say everything that was difficult had to do with the specific food industry. Being a manufacturer in that industry, making stuff ... making stuff is just hard, whatever it is. I mean, maybe food in particular. But being a manufacturer of anything is really, really tough. I had no idea.

 

                                    And then learning the industry ... you know, I would go into the early sales meetings with different retailers and so forth. There were so many acronyms, and so many ways of doing things, and saying things in this tight knit community that ... I actually would leave a meeting and I had no idea what people were saying, because there were so many words that I had never heard before. So, really learning the industry, learning the jargon that went along with it, and battling it up against the big boys, as it were. When you look at the frozen pizza space, for instance.

 

Gregg Stebben:          But you actually probably went into one of the most competitive frozen food fields, other than ice cream, that exists.

 

Gail Becker:                Yes. I wish I had known that then. I didn't. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose. You are right. The frozen section overall is the most competitive space in the grocery store, because there's the least of it. Anyone that's in there, there is very limited space. If you come in, someone else has to go out. Today we are right up there next to the big boys, I like to say, but it certainly it wasn't like that in the beginning. It's been quite a journey, but a really remarkable one.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I want to call out the fact that you started by making ... tell me if this is correct. Essentially, pizza crust made out of cauliflower. Hence the name Caulipower. And you were making that because you recognize that there were families like yours where flour was not a possibility. But you've expanded now.

 

Gail Becker:               You know what? I would never say that ... I certainly didn't make it for only the gluten free community. That's why I went into it. But my thing was far more… I mean, we don't even market it as gluten free products. We market it as better tasting, better-for-you products that happens to be gluten free.

 

                                   I did that because my insight as a mom of two boys growing up with celiac was that there was always ... there's an art. There was always everybody had to eat something different. My insight at the time was: wouldn't it be great if we could all just eat the same thing even if we had different reasons for eating it? Why do you have to eat something that's specifically gluten free? Why do you have to eat something that's specifically lower in calories, or lower in fat? I just thought: let's make products that really everybody can enjoy even if they have different reasons for enjoying it. Nobody has time today to make three different meals. There's something really nice about sharing from the same plate.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Well, to an equally important if not more important business point, is when you look at it that way, the market is exponentially larger. Correct?

 

Gail Becker:                Correct.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Which we all love that.

 

Gail Becker:                We also love that.

 

Gregg Stebben:          One of the points I want to make is you went from pizza crust, to pizza, what you were saying. Now you're next to the big boys.

 

Gail Becker:                We launched with four pizzas. Three tops, and one plain crust.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Okay. And now there's-

 

Gail Becker:                Now, we have more flavors of pizza, and we have tortillas. We have our brand new chicken tenders, which just launched a few weeks ago. We also have our sweet potatoes, which are a bread replacement made from sliced sweet potatoes.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I will confess, I had some sweet potatoes last night, too. Because once I started down the Caulipower road, it was hard to stop me. I had a really great and healthy dinner last night.

 

Gail Becker:                Oh, fantastic. Okay. Well, welcome to the family.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Thank you. We've been talking about scale here, and one of the things that impressed me ... because you started the business in 2016, really launched the products in 2017. So, two years plus. I went to Walmart to get your products after printing out a coupon. My understanding, particularly of the food industry, is it's really hard to get into Walmart. And there you are after just two years.

 

Gail Becker:                Yeah. It's interesting. Walmart actually brought us in pretty early. We launched in February of 2017. We were in some Walmart stores as early as October of that same year. They've been a great partner to us. One of my objectives for building Caulipower was I wanted to make better-for-you food accessible to as many people as I possibly could, and that's accessible in a number of ways. The way that the product looks, the way that it tastes, the way that our packaging is, the stores that it's sold in, the price that it's sold for, and the fact that we give a percentage of sales to help build Teaching Gardens and underserved schools across the country. Accessible nutrition is a key platform of who Caulipower is.

 

Gregg Stebben:          You've just brought up a point about scale that I think is worthy of a little conversation here. You not only had to master the food business, but by getting into Walmart that quickly, you had to scale in some pretty dramatic ways, I would think, in terms of production and ... I don't know. Raising capital and hiring.

 

Gail Becker:                Yes. You name it.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I mean, Walmart does not take a chance on you. You have to prove that you're ready, I'm assuming.

 

Gail Becker:                I think it was both. I mean, they were looking to expand their better-for-you options, so it was a really nice partnership early on. They did take a bit of a chance on me. Luckily, we've been able to prove ourselves and make the relationship work. But you are right. Scaling as fast as we did was just huge when I think back.

 

                                   And we're still doing it. We're still scaling at a rapid rate. It's very much like building the plane while flying it, you know? We're trying to make it bigger, but we're also trying to run the day-to-day business. It was a huge hurdle for us. But I'm just thrilled and so proud of the team that we were able to manage and keep up.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I'm talking with Gail Becker. She's the founder and CEO of the company Caulipower. It's eatcaulipower.com. If you think I said cauliflower, I didn't. It's Caulipower, spelled exactly the same way but a 'P' instead of an 'F.' Eatcaulipower.com on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at Caulipower.

                                   So, this year as a sign of your success and your ability to have successfully scaled, you were awarded the Woman Business Owner of the Year award by NAWBO, the National Association of Women Business Owners. Can you talk about how a professional network like NAWBO became a very important part of your success?

 

Gail Becker:                One of the things that struck me early on about coming into the food industry is I sort of thought, like all the other industries that I had encountered, this is one where there'd be a lot of women at the top and involved in sort of every level. Because somehow I thought, "Oh, it was food. Clearly there's going to be a lot of women running the industry." And maybe not surprisingly, I didn't necessarily find that to be true. Obviously there are some, but not nearly enough.

 

                                   I also struggled with seeing how difficult it was for female entrepreneurs to raise VC money. When I started to read some of the statistics, it blew me away. Only 2% of VC money goes to fund female-led companies. That's outrageous. Even though they perform better. So when I started to put that all together in my head, it really became important to me to support other female business owners and entrepreneurship.

 

Read next: Angel Investors Seek Women-Owned Business Startups: How to Find a Match by Steve Strauss

 

                                   As I always say, if you want to see more female businesses, there is only one thing you can do. That is support more female businesses. Buy their products, tell your friends, share their social media. That's the only way that we're going to ever break the cycle.

 

                                   As it relates to NAWBO, NAWBO was really a strong part of that. It's so interesting to me because I am new to NAWBO, but obviously now I'm forever a fan and a member. But when I went to the conference, I have to say I was just blown away by what I saw there. I have never been in a business setting like that where so many people were just cheering each other on. Doesn't matter who won the award for whatever category. People were dancing for each other and cheering each other. I had people fixing my jacket before I went on stage. I mean, when does that happen? It doesn't ever happen.

 

                                   I was just blown away by the camaraderie and the generosity. I have since had several other female business owners reach out to me that maybe we could do work together through Caulipower in some vendor relationship, and what have you. It's just this wonderful network to be a part of. And to remind each other that we're all in this together and we're all trying to make this world a little bit better than we found it.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I find it really interesting that a large part of your initial motivation for going to your first NAWBO meeting and other organizations like that was not to get something, but to give something. Because I think ... I mean, it's a bit of a stereotype, but I think we find in business that often women just have a very different view of the world of business that men do. I think you've really just illustrated that.

 

Gail Becker:                Well, it's so interesting because there's been a lot written about this. This is not me saying it. But whenever you talk to female entrepreneur ... I've sat on a number of panels now and I've heard a lot of stories. They're always motivated by trying to improve people's lives, trying to make things better, trying to make things easier, trying to help people.

 

                                    I can't tell you how much I hear that motivation over and over again. I think that's one of the reasons that actually accounts for the success of female business owners, which has a better rate of return from venture capitalists than actually men do. I think the reason is is because that mission is so clear, and so empowering that it just ... you can't help but succeed. It's really quite remarkable.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Okay. So I have one last question for you, Gail. She's Gail Becker. She's the founder and CEO of the company Caulipower. It's eatcaulipower.com on Twitter, and Facebook, and Instagram @Caulipower. The question is this: you've grown so fast, what's next?

 

Gail Becker:                Sleep.

 

Gregg Stebben:          It sounds like you've earned that, and I'm not surprised to hear you say that. But once you wake up ... and I'm sure you're looking ahead to a new year-

 

Gail Becker:                I'm kidding. I'm kidding. I'm kidding. No, I would say that we have a lot of new products coming out that we're super excited about. Our chicken tenders, which are baked, not fried. And really a huge category buster in terms of what else is out there. Those are just launching now. We also have some new products coming out next year, which we're very excited about. And just continuing to grow our footprint, and help people, and most importantly, build a lot more Teaching Gardens.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I want to mention the name of the product, the chicken. We've been calling them chicken tenders, but the name really deserves to be called out.

 

Gail Becker:                I like it. Go for it.

 

Gregg Stebben:          The name of the product is New Chick on the Block. And part of your advertising slogan is, "No Clucking Way!" I mean, you have just really ... I'm sure your background at Edelman didn't hurt. From the name of the company, Caulipower, to New Chick on the Block. No Clucking Way. You've really clearly identified a market. We know you have, because look at your growth, and your sales, and your success. But everything that I looked at in preparing to talk to you spoke to me exactly the way it should after identifying me as a potential customer. Really, I'm very impressed and I'm not surprised at all with the success that you've had. I want to thank you for joining us.

 

Gail Becker:                Well, thank you. That's really lovely to say. The industry has to remember that food is never precious, that the only thing precious about food are the people that you share it with. We like to have fun. We don't take ourselves too seriously. We remind people that food is joy, and there's nothing wrong with having a bag that makes you smile.

 

Gregg Stebben:          New Chick on the Block. I hope you don't mind me mentioning, I did not realize that the chicken tenders were just a few weeks new on the market.

 

Gail Becker:                Yeah, I know. Oh my gosh, I love it.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Great, great. If you go to the website, again, it's caulipower.com. Just like cauliflower, but it's Caulipower. A 'P' instead of an 'F.' And when you get there, you can do what I did. There's a $2 off coupon for the chicken tenders. Very cleverly, you've picked a great vendor for managing that. Because when I printed out the coupon, it also gave me the address of the four closest stores. No matter which direction I went, I had to drive past a place that I knew I could get the chicken tenders, and I'm so glad I did. I had a great dinner last night. And I've had a great conversation with you, Gail. Thank you so much for joining us, and thank you for enriching my when-I'm-home-alone-and-hungry dinners. Because I'm going to be eating a lot of your Spicy(ish) Chicken Tenders.

 

Gail Becker:                Oh, well that's the best kind of endorsement I can hope for. Thank you so much. I had a great time.

Gregg Stebben:          Thank you.

 

Narrator:                     Thanks for listening to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.com and Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com.

At a recent event the CEO and Founder of Her Agenda, Rhonesha Byng, sat down to talk about how her organization is working to bridge the gap between ambition and achievement among women business owners.

 

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Kate Delaney:             I'm Kate Delaney with Gregg Stebben. We're from “Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks and Bank of America, and we're so pleased to be here at Luminary for the 2019 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight, and we have Rhonesha Byng with us. Think HerAgenda.com, wow. I scribbled that down when that was mentioned.

 

Rhonesha Byng:         Oh wow.

 

Kate Delaney:             Because I thought it was so interesting.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I love the name.

 

Kate Delaney:             I do too. So tell us about HerAgenda.com.

 

Rhonesha Byng:         Her Agenda is the digital media platform, bridging the gap between ambition and achievement for millennial women. We really believe in the concept that you can't be what you can't see. So every Monday we have a story called, “A Peak Inside Her Agenda,” where we feature a different woman in a position of power, from education to entrepreneurship to the C suite. We featured women like Arianna Huffington, Misty Copeland, Nadia Lopez, who went viral after being featured on the Humans of New York Instagram page.

 

                                   So it's very diverse. We feature diverse women across industries, across backgrounds, and the idea is to give you everything that you need to achieve whatever is on your agenda. And the motto is, no one ever slows her agenda, which was a personal motto that I came up with from a nickname of mine. My name is Rhonesha. My nickname is Nesha. So that acronym it stands for No One Ever Slows Her Agenda, and that means whatever your goal is, go for it. Don't let anyone or anything stop you. And we live in this age where media has the power to shape perception and has a power to shape how we think of ourselves and how the world thinks of ourselves. And we want to change how ambitious women are seen by the world and how ambitious women have access to resources and opportunity. So we also, in addition to our articles, have a database of event panels, networking and also a private community called Her Agenda Insiders, which act as a peer mentorship community where you get access to the hidden job market and exclusive events that we can't post publicly on the website.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Sometimes I want to be a woman.

 

Rhonesha Byng:         Wow!

 

Gregg Stebben:          This is so beautiful.

 

Rhonesha Byng:         I get why you say that, but the reason we exist is because we live in a society where for a man this is easily attainable, and accessible, and for women it's not unfortunately.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I was not diminishing what you're doing at all. It's beautiful though. And I guess I want to hear from you. What was the vision or the catalyst for you to see this idea and then that it was possible and then take the steps to do it?

 

Rhonesha Byng:         Well, it started a long time ago, way back when I was in high school and I was one of those young women that were ambitious and, as soon as I found my purpose in life, which was journalism, I hit the ground running. So at 16-17 I was at press conferences. At the UN, I was covering funerals of major figures like Gordon Parks.

 

                                   And I was really taking myself seriously as a journalist and I got all these mentors who were editors of publications. I was also modeling for Seventeen Magazine, literally, I guess you could say. The media world was just so accessible to me because I'm from New York City and I got all these mentors. Then I go to college and take a women's studies class and it was almost like a slap in the face. Like wait a second, I was in a bubble. The world does not look like that. Women are not in power, and I just could not understand why. And so for me, I knew that my talent and my superpower was media. And so I knew the influence impact media had, and so I thought if more of my peers, and more of the world could see these powerful women and they were more accessible and at the forefront, then it could change the ratio of women in power ultimately across the board.

 

                                   Because like I said, you can't be what you can't see. So I literally as a college student was talking about this idea, and it was a friend that was like, you should start a website, and I said, "Oh, someone probably started something," did some market research. No one started it and looked up the URL, HerAgenda, because that was already tied to my motto I had for myself, didn't exist, created it and slowly but surely put it together and it grew into now what it is today. But it started from the fact that I was just shocked that there were not more women in positions of power because all the women I personally knew were empowered. They were in charge. They were not taking no for an answer. They were to me like how celebrities are to kids. Like if you see Beyonce, you're like, "Oh my God!"

 

                                   For me back then, I would freak out to see Danielle Smith who at the time was the editor in chief of Vibe, or someone who was more behind the scenes but had the power to make decisions. That was something that I wanted to see more of and it didn't exist at the time. That was in 2008.

 

Kate Delaney:             What's your ultimate goal for HerAgenda.com?

 

Rhonesha Byng:         My ultimate goal is for us to be more global and just more known and to reach women. Every woman, no matter where she is. If you have internet access you know about Her Agenda in terms of if you're looking for inspiration, if you're looking for information, it's just really to continue to grow what we're doing. Reach more women and have more resources and ultimately we actually want to do is we want to use that platform as a gateway for a pipeline to leadership.

 

                                   And so, we want to do more direct partnerships with companies like Twitter, like Google, like Microsoft that claim that they can't find women. Well, the women that read our website are the women that you want, and so why don't you partner with us, post your jobs with us so that you can reach those women.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Will you make us a promise?

 

Rhonesha Byng:         Okay.

 

Gregg Stebben:          We need to talk to you every three or six months.

 

Rhonesha Byng:         Okay, great.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Because you're the beacon, first of all, but you also have your pulse on something. I think you created something that's a pulse taking environment that maybe nobody ever had a way of taking a pulse of before. I'm stunned by what you've done.

 

Rhonesha Byng:         Can I take you everywhere with me?

 

Gregg Stebben:           I want to take you with me everywhere I go. I'm really blown away by what you've done.

 

Rhonesha Byng:          Thank you.

 

Gregg Stebben:           I can't tell you how impressed I am.

 

Rhonesha Byng:         Thank you. It has not been easy. I started out, like I said, in college, so this was built from my college dorm room, went out into the working world, I thought I was a complete failure because I had branded myself as Her Agenda. No one ever stops her agenda, so I thought I'd be doing that full time after I graduated from college, and I ended up working as a producer at NBC. Now that is not a failure. But at the time I was like, I'm not living what I said I was about, and so I did that. But that in hindsight ended up being the best thing for me because I really got more experience as a journalist and more experience within a corporation itself. Then I went on to be an editor at The Huffington Post, which was also a whole other experience in terms of seeing the digital side of media at scale.

 

                                   And then at that point I got into an accelerator that allowed me to transition to full time. So that was 2015, so I started in 2008, side hustle up until 2015 and then full time in 2015 didn't make money for the first year. And then 2016, 2017 was when the transition in terms of becoming a profitable media company became more of a reality.

 

Kate Delaney:             What do you hope happens when people get in your funnel? I mean you hear their stories and that has to get you excited when there's someone who connects to HerAgenda.com, and because of you, they get the education, they get the mentorship, they figure out what it is they need through what you've given them and what you've written. What do you hope ultimately happens for those women that get in the pipeline?

 

Rhonesha Byng:         Simply that they achieve whatever their goal is. And then once they do that, naturally as women, our natural instinct is to give back and to pour into others. And so, that's really what the hope is, and with the insider community that we created, that private network - first you had the page to opt into that. And so that's something that's a value add service. But also in the community, we always say the mindset to get in is that you have to have the mindset of lifting as you climb. And so, really that's the idea is just to pour into others, share a resource, share an opportunity, invest in another entrepreneur once you've made your first $1 million. It's really just to pour back into the economy as a whole. And there's that statistic where if you invest in a woman, you invest in a whole community, versus if you invest in a man, you invest in that man. That's what the data says. That's not what I say.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I feel it's getting hot in here.

 

Kate Delaney:             Wow. Just absolutely amazing.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Yeah. The website is HerAgenda.com and I'm telling you, this is one of the best things…I talk to a lot of small business owners, a lot of founders. This is one of the most beautiful stories I've ever heard. I can't wait to hear more.

 

Rhonesha Byng:          Well thank you. And we'll be in touch. This won't be our first conversation.

 

Gregg Stebben:           I have a feeling we'll hear from you if you don't hear from us. Thank you.

 

Rhonesha Byng:          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.

Supporting women in business is the main goal of NAWBO and their NYC chapter president, Elizabeth Foster. She came on “The Heartbeat of Main Street” to discuss the tools the organization provides to women and the community that they’ve built together.

 

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Narrator:                     Now let’s hear from Elizabeth Foster, the President of NAWBO NYC, and CEO and founder of Maison Visionnaire, talking with us from the 2019 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight

 

Kate Delaney:             I'm Kate Delaney with Gregg Stebben. We're from “Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks and Bank of America. We're here at the 2019 Bank of America, Women Business Owner Spotlight and wow, we have a great guest with us. Elizabeth Foster, Gregg, I mean, I'm telling you, people beat the drum for this woman. All I did was tweet something out, and the people are all over me.

 

Gregg Stebben:          It helps that she is the President of NAWBO NYC. Elizabeth, welcome. And I think first, let's talk about NAWBO, and then we want to get into your career. Tell us about NAWBO. Not everyone's familiar with it.

 

Elizabeth Foster:        NAWBO is a National Association of Women Business Owners. That's what it stands for. It actually came into creation in 1975, when a woman business owner could not get a loan without a male family member co-signing. And what happened, there was a woman that went into a bank, she had no male family member. The bank manager said, I'm really sorry. These are the rules. Isn't there somebody? She had a 17 year-old-son, and the bank manager said he'll do.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Are you serious?

 

Elizabeth Foster:         I'm serious.

 

Gregg Stebben:          So I want to interject, that I think a year ago, this was a very big anniversary for NAWBO, or maybe it was two years ago, you'll correct me, but we just celebrated the 30th anniversary of making those rules go away. Correct?

 

Elizabeth Foster:        Correct.

 

Gregg Stebben:          So only 30 years ago?

 

Elizabeth Foster:        Well actually yeah, it's actually less than 30 years ago. NAWBO started in '75, and what happened was, this event happened in '75, and she went out, she said, no, you're not going to have my son as a guarantor. And basically what happened was that she got together with a group of other businesswomen and she said, we need to do something about this.

 

                                   So she was a woman of action, and she met with other women of action, and they got together and they created NAWBO. Then, it took them 13 years, 13 years, till 1988, which was 30 years ago last-

 

Gregg Stebben:          I knew there was a 30 year anniversary. Listen to Gregg’s interview about the 30th anniversary of HR 5050 on “The Heartbeat of Main Street”

 

Elizabeth Foster:        That was the one. Yeah. And it's crazy. I'm like, seriously? It took you 13 years to pass a bill to say that women had the equal rights? 1988? I'm like, shame on you.

 

Gregg Stebben:          A creditworthy woman.

 

Kate Delaney:             That's just sad.

 

Gregg Stebben:          If you were not creditworthy, that's another conversation. But you could have the greatest credit, and you still couldn't get a loan because you were a woman.

 

Elizabeth Foster:         Correct, correct.

 

Kate Delaney:             And obviously you have a beautiful accent, so we know that you were born and raised in England, I'm guessing, and I bet you had that entrepreneurial spirit as a young woman. And I know that you got into the fragrance business. How did that start? Tell us about your journey.

 

Elizabeth Foster:        You're right. I'm not a native New Yorker. I was born in Bath, and grew up there, and then went to London as soon as I could, basically. And I started…I had a few jobs doing this and that, whatever. And then I found a product, and I really wanted to...it kind of came to me as there was something, and this is a skill that I have: I kind of look at something, and then I'll say, well, if you just did this, and if you did this, and if you did this, then you could make a whole different product, and it would be, oh, so much better.

 

Gregg Stebben:          So you're good at leveraging assets.

 

Elizabeth Foster:        Correct. So that's exactly what I did. And the product was an aroma therapy-based product, and I knew a lot about aromatherapy anyway, just out of personal interest. So that was something that was very near and dear to my heart.

 

                                   And we just basically started on the kitchen table. We started at very, very, very humble beginnings. And then, within two years, we had a billion-pound turnover, which is kind of cool actually.

 

Kate Delaney:            So your journey, I mean this has to be more than near and dear to your heart, to see women thriving in entrepreneurial spaces all over the place, right?

 

Elizabeth Foster:        Yeah. Well, very much so. And actually going back to me being here as well. So I've been here for five years now, and I was kind of "fresh off the boat." And I met a woman at an event and I'm like, where do I meet some smart savvy businesswomen? And she's like, you need to go to NAWBO. I'm like-

 

Gregg Stebben:          What's NAWBO?

 

Elizabeth Foster:        What's NAWBO? So she said, she told me what it was, and I'm like, huh, I can give that a go. And then you know, I think the thing is, that you need to be open as well. You need to be understanding and give things a go. So from that point of view, that's what I did. I was open, I went along, and I found my tribe.

 

                                    I found those women that were smart and savvy, and I do consider myself that as well. And I fit in, and it was great. And then they obviously saw potential in me, and they're like, “Hey, you want to come hang out with us?”

 

Gregg Stebben:          Well, so I want to make an observation here. You earlier used the phrase, I think you referred to yourself, as a “woman of action,” right?

 

Elizabeth Foster:         Correct.

 

Gregg Stebben:          And what's interesting is, you moved to an entirely new, not just to a new city, but to a new city in a new country five years ago, and you're now the President of NAWBO NYC. My guess is, they saw in you a woman of action, and you saw in them a lot of women of action, and I'm bringing that up just to really say to other women who are not familiar with NAWBO, if you want to meet like-minded, savvy businesswomen, women of action, NAWBO's the place to go, whether you're in New York City or not.

 

Elizabeth Foster:        Absolutely, yeah. We've got 60 chapters around the country, and even if you're in the middle of nowhere, we have virtual membership too, so you can still connect with us women, no matter where you are in America.

 

Kate Delaney:            What do you think is the most difficult thing that women entrepreneurs go through? What stops some of them from achieving what they could possibly achieve?

 

Elizabeth Foster:        That's a very good question, and I think there's various answers to that. I think that often for women it's actually confidence. I hate to say that. We still don't believe in ourselves enough. And when we don't believe in ourselves, others don't necessarily believe in us. So I think that level of, you've got to just go there, you've got to put yourself out there. That’s what you know…don't hold back.

 

                                    And if you struggle with that, if that's something that you know you struggle with, then get some support. Get a coach, get a whatever you need, even just a friend, like a good strong friend.

 

Gregg Stebben:          And I would imagine also…again, not to spend the whole interview plugging NAWBO, but if one of the things you need is confidence, go be with other women who are being successful.

 

Elizabeth Foster:         Correct.

 

Gregg Stebben:           They'll tell you what you're great at and support you in the things that you need to grow in.

 

Elizabeth Foster:         That's exactly the case. Exactly. And no, we're not just plugging NAWBO, but they are a great organization. So, hey.

 

Kate Delaney:             So we have one last question for you.

 

Gregg Stebben:          You haven't even told us about your business.

 

Elizabeth Foster:         That's because I'm such a good advocate for NAWBO.

 

Gregg Stebben:           You are, but you should tell us about your business.

 

Elizabeth Foster:         I can do that. I'm the founder of Maison Visionnaire, and what we did is, we invented the reed diffusers.,So it's a home fragrance business. What we did, is we brought art to fragrance, and we made it a whole experience for your home. So instead of, I'm sure you've seen them, you know the jars with the oil and the sticks. Well, I'm sorry, but they're not very beautiful, and they're not creative, and they're kind of ugly, and you want to hide them away because you want the fragrance, and you want the benefits.

 

                                   So I decided to make it beautiful. So it's a wooden art piece that has been carved, and that acts as a diffuser, but it's also beautiful to look at. And it also, it's a fusion that accentuates the home. So we also have a product behind it. It's a CDF, a composite diffusion fiber, which kind of acts like the fragrance engine, so to speak. It really pumps out the fragrance, and it's totally natural. So, that's what I'm doing here. That's my business.

 

Gregg Stebben:         And the website for it?

 

Elizabeth Foster:        MaisonVisionnaire.com.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Spell it for us.

 

Elizabeth Foster:        M-A-I-S-O-N-V-I-S-I-O-N-N-A-I-R-E .com.

 

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.

 

Read more about Elizabeth Foster, Founder of Maison Visionnaire, on The Small Business Community.

Women entrepreneurs are continuing to grow their leadership stake in the small business market. Bank of America Head of Small Business, Sharon Miller, spoke about how she’s seeing more opportunities for women, including increased woman-to-woman mentorship opportunities, and the positive impact its having.

 

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Kate Delaney:             I'm Kate Delaney with Gregg Stebben. We're from Heartbeat of Main Street with ForbesBooks and 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.

 

 

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