Have a great product you don’t know what to do with? May is National Inventors Month, and the Women Inventorz Network (W.I.N.) wants to help women inventors make their ideas a reality by providing the practical steps and know-how to do it. W.I.N., which is the only independent organization for women inventors in the U.S. and Canada, evaluates submitted products based on 10 criteria such as retail readiness, marketing, logo design, website effectiveness, etc., and provides guidance in making necessary improvements. Founders and inventing experts Dhana Cohen and Melinda Knight wants W.I.N. to be a launch pad for women inventors to get their products found.Google+
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Web.com Small Business Toolkit: Eileen Fisher Business Grant Program (Grants for Women Entrepreneurs)April 1st, 2013 :: Maria Valdez Haubrich
Designer Eileen Fisher started her business with just $350 in her savings account. Now she wants to help other women by inviting women-owned businesses to apply for her ninth annual Business Grant Program for Women Entrepreneurs. The program celebrates top women founders of innovative companies that foster environmental and economic health in their communities. Up to five grants of $12,500 each will be awarded to prospective applicants. Recipients will also attend a two-day conference in New York City, meeting with past beneficiaries and Eileen Fisher teams, in early 2014. Only for-profit businesses or for-profit/nonprofit hybrids (social enterprises) will be considered for this grant. The deadline is May 31, 2013.Google+
The number of mom-owned businesses is growing and fueling the American economy—and there’s no time like the present to honor these busy entrepreneurs. StartupNation has launched its fourth annual ranking of mom entrepreneurs and the businesses they run. If you are a mom business owner or know of one, enter today for a chance to win prizes including $10,000 cash prize from Staples. Additional prizes include a complimentary business growth consultation by the founders of StartupNation and a $1,000 gift card from Staples for the top three winners. The deadline is April 30, 2013.
Up to your neck in expense receipts and other tax documents? After you’ve done your homework and checked out My Corporation’s Small Business Tax Guide and Notable Tax Changes for 2013, celebrate your business by entering the Brilliant Businesses video contest sponsored by My Corporation. Simply submit a video of two minutes or less explaining your business, what you do, or what makes your business unique. Think of it as a commercial for your business. You have a chance to win $1,500 and have your business featured on the home page of the website. Don’t delay: The deadline for entries is March 29, 2013.
Even for the smallest businesses, project management tools make keeping organized and on schedule a cinch. If you need to share progress or files with partners, employees or clients, an online project management program can help your team work together more efficiently. ZOHO Projects works with Google products like Gmail and Google Drive and also has a mobile app available. ZOHO Projects is free for one project and if you need less than 10MB of storage. The next level of subscription is $199 for a year with 5GB of storage and unlimited projects.Google+
For a long time, the number of women-owned businesses whose revenues top $1 million has been far disproportionate to the numbers of women starting and running their own businesses. According to U.S. Census data, the number of women-owned firms grew by 28.6 percent between 2002 and 2012, outpacing the 24.4 percent increase the number of U.S. businesses overall. But while women are launching businesses in ever greater numbers, just 2 percent of women-owned companies have sales over $1 million.
But there’s some good news hidden in that statistic. Recently, American Express OPEN and Womenable decided to drill deeper into Census data about women-owned businesses that had over $1 million in sales. They broke the businesses into three revenue categories: $1 million to $4.9 million, $5 million to $9.9 million, and $10 million-plus. Their findings, published in Growing Under the Radar: An Exploration of the Achievements of Million-Dollar Women-Owned Firms, show that among the over-$10-million category, the number of women-owned businesses has surged by 56.6 percent since 2002.
That’s 47 percent higher than the 38.4 percent increase in all businesses (both male- and female-owned) with sales of over $10 million. And in addition to outpacing $10-million-plus firms overall in growth, women-owned $10-million-plus firms are growing at a whopping 98 percent faster pace than women-owned businesses overall.
How do the $1-million-plus women-owned businesses break down overall? Some 87 percent have under $5 million in sales, and 10 percent fall in the $5 million to $9.9 million range. Only 8 percent of the $1-million-plus women-owned businesses make $10 million or more. That’s similar to the way that the majority of all small businesses fall on the lower end of the sales spectrum.
There’s good news of another kind in the study’s findings. While in the past, Womenable president and CEO Julie Weeks says, most women with firms in the $10-million-plus category had inherited the businesses from fathers or husbands, today most of them are heading companies they started themselves. Womenable believes the greater visibility of and support for high-profile women in business and government is a contributing factor in the growth.
So in what industries are women most likely to head $10-million-plus companies? Wholesale trade (20 percent of women-owned firms there have passed the $10 million mark), finance/insurance (12 percent), transportation/ warehousing (11 percent), and arts/entertainment/recreation (10 percent) topped the list. Womenable says the fact that these industries tend to be more scalable than most has undoubtedly helped the women-owned firms in them expand.
Image by Flickr user (Creative Commons)Google+
Are you a mad multitasker? You know what I mean—switching back and forth between 12 open programs on your computer while simultaneously talking on one phone, checking texts on a second phone and eating lunch at your desk. Women business owners are particularly prone to multitasking mania, probably because many of us are used to juggling dozens of tasks (overseeing the kids’ homework while working on the laptop and folding laundry) in our home lives. But that doesn’t mean we’re better at it than men.
Studies on male vs. female multitasking abilities are many and controversial. For every study showing that women are better at it, there’s one claiming men are. But the real question isn’t who’s better at multitasking, but whether multitasking is helpful or hurtful.
A raft of studies done in labs have indicated that while multitasking actually decreases your productivity, people tended to believe the opposite—that they were more effective when multitasking. An Ohio State University study went one step beyond to find out why people think multitasking is more productive. Researchers found that:
- People feel more productive because they are emotionally satisfied by multitasking.
- People tended to multitask when they had a specific task to do (such as studying); in other words, multitasking provided a way to avoid focusing on something that was rather unpleasant.
- As a result, people feel emotionally satisfied by multitasking, which leads them to keep doing it.
- As they continue multitasking, it develops into a habit, and the positive emotions that come from it plus the habit-forming nature makes them keep doing it.
So what can you do to break your multitasking habit? Like any habit, it will take time (about 21 days) to break the old habit and institute new ones. Try setting rules like shutting down your email and only checking it a few times a day; letting calls go to voice mail and checking them at set times; shutting your office door for short periods when you need to concentrate; and using online tools like Freedom or Concentrate to keep you from wasting time on the Internet.
Yes, I realize that these habits may be hard to institute, but start small. You’d be surprised at what just a couple hours a day of not multitasking can do for your productivity—and your business.
Image by Flickr user deux-chi (Creative Commons)Google+
Want to start a new business or spinoff of your existing business but you’re thinking, “A new business is too hard and will take too long!” How does starting a business in a weekend sound (and maybe finding a partner to boot)? StartUp Weekend events are held around the world and are 54-hour weekends filled with hands-on experiences where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs can find out if their startup ideas are viable. Typically, half of Startup Weekend’s attendees have technical or design backgrounds, and the other half have business backgrounds, which leads to some very fruitful teams. How’s this for a success rate? Eighty percent of past attendees say they plan on working with the team they met during their StartUp Weekend.Google+
2013 might be the “Year of the Woman Entrepreneur,” if the findings of a new survey conducted by by Web.com Group Inc. and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is any indication. The 2013 State of Women-Owned Businesses survey found that the large majority of women business owners (WBOs) are optimistic about their business’ overall performance (81 percent) for the coming year, as well as about the broader economic outlook for the nation (74 percent).
What Keeps Women Business Owners Up at Night?
The top four issues worrying WBOs are the state of the economy (57 percent), health insurance cost and affordability (40 percent), business tax issues (36 percent) and access to a quality workforce (36 percent). WBOs plan to invest more (38 percent) or the same (54 percent) in hiring this year compared to 2012. Though two in five WBOs said that health insurance costs and affordability are important issues to them, many (71 percent) feel that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) will have no impact upon the way they do business.
How Are Women Business Owners Finding Financing?
More than three quarters (78 percent) of WBOs did not seek a new or extended line of credit in the past year. Of these 78 percent, more than half (68 percent) say they didn’t need additional credit; the other 32 percent didn’t think they could obtain credit if they tried. Most WBOs financed their businesses through credit cards (45 percent), business earnings (40 percent) or private sources such as personal savings or contributions from family or friends (37 percent).
Who Should Become an Entrepreneur?
A whopping 85 percent of survey respondents predict that more women will start businesses this year than in the past. When asked why they started their business, the most common answer was that they were following their vision (28 percent), or because they found a good business idea (21 percent). Respondents say the most important traits needed for business success are a passion for an idea (1st), a vision to succeed long-term after the business is launched (2nd) and a willingness to take risks and fail (3rd).
How Are Women Business Owners Marketing Their Companies?
Finding new customers was the biggest challenge cited by 39 percent of WBOs; to land those customers, 73 percent say they will invest more in marketing in 2013. The top marketing tactics they’ll spend more on are social media marketing (36 percent) and search engine optimization (SEO) (36 percent). Some 44 percent of WBOs believe these methods are the future of small business marketing, while traditional approaches such as print and direct mail, online advertising and email marketing will be less important.
What Marketing Methods Matter Most?
Asked what marketing tactics have the most impact on their bottom line, more than half (52 percent) of respondents say website design and maintenance was very important, followed by social media marketing and SEO (38 percent) and email marketing (25 percent). Among social networking platforms, LinkedIn (27 percent) was named as the most valuable, followed by Facebook (26 percent), YouTube (18 percent) and Twitter (17 percent).
For full survey results and to view and share the 2013 State of Women-Owned Businesses infographic, visit www.web.com/community.
Image by Flickr user apdk (Creative Commons)Google+
Are you a nice girl? If you’re like many women business owners, you grew up getting rewarded for being nice. Teachers gave you good grades, you made your parents happy and you got more friends by being nice.
Fast forward to today when you’re a small business owner. While you may think that being nice brings some of the same rewards (and you’d be right), there are also times when being too nice can harm you and your business. Here are some warning signs you might be suffering from “nice girl syndrome”—and how to take control.
Too nice to employees: Are your employees walking roughshod over you? Do you stay late every night at the office while your team leaves at 5 on the dot? Do you regularly pick up the slack for staffers who aren’t pulling their own weight?
What to do: Being too nice is doing your employees no favors. If you always take on their work, they’ll never learn or grow. Many entrepreneurs (not just women) struggle to delegate, but it’s important to learn. Start setting new rules and holding employees accountable for their work.
Too nice to clients: Do clients and customers request tons of last-minute changes, or ask for more and more work—without paying you any extra? No, the customer is not always right. It’s important to know where to draw the line so your business and your employees aren’t getting shortchanged.
What to do: Avoid “scope creep” by being clear about costs and deliverables upfront. Use written contracts to clarify what’s included in the purchase and what costs extra. You may decide it’s OK to do extra work for key clients, but even so, keep track of what you do so that when you renegotiate your contract, you can point out the added value you’ve brought to the table and justify a higher cost next time.
Too nice to your family: Are you taking on all the housework at home in addition to working 18-hour days at the office? Don’t give in and become a martyr just because you’re afraid of making waves.
What to do: Ask for what you want and figure out a win-win way to get it. If both you and your spouse are exhausted after long days, outsourcing chores like cooking and cleaning may be worth the cost. Or consider just lowering your standards a bit and being easier on yourself. If you’re like most women business owners, the one person you’re not nice enough to is you.
Image by Flickr user amber de bruin (Creative Commons)