Women and Finances: Secrets from the Battleground

The relationship between women and finances has always been shaky at best.  At most, it is definitely misunderstood.  To some, women will never live up to men in this area. However, history is full of real life examples of the fact that this is, indeed, not true. 

Since ancient times women have contributed to the incomes of their homes.  Whether by selling goods, investing, or offering a service.  These were the first women-owned businesses.  

 Women today run multi-million dollar companies and support other women in doing the same. 

Learn About Women and Finances from the 2020 Cartier Women’s Initiative Winner

According to Fundera, the United States alone has 12.3 million businesses owned by women.  These businesses generate $1.8 trillion a year.  In fact, 40% of businesses in the US have female owners. That’s just the United States.  Worldwide the numbers are even bigger, and growing daily. What’s changing? What’s causing the increase, and where are they getting the money to open these businesses? 

There are many answers, but the two main ones relate to education and financial support.  Women are more educated now than they have ever been.  Not only that, but they are training each other to do better.  In fact, many grant opportunities have popped up in recent years.  Most of them not only help women finance their businesses, but they also offer training and support along the way. 

Credit Line Hybrid Financing:  Get up to $150,000 in financing so your business can thrive. 

No one does this better than the Cartier Women’s Initiative. Since its creation in 2006, the program has helped more than 240 businesses owned by women entrepreneurs.  These ladies come from 56 different countries and their businesses have created more than 7,000 jobs.  During this time, the CWI has granted more than $3 million in funding.  This makes it one of the largest and most generous female-focused entrepreneurial competitions in the world.

It is our delight to get the opportunity to interview one of this year’s winners, Anna-Sophie Hartvigsen from Denmark, about women and finances.  Her business, Female Invest, is a women and finances double whammy.  Not only does it have female owners, but it’s main purpose is to help women with investing. Here’s what she has to say. 

Women and Finances: Inspirationfemales and finances Credit Suite

Credit Suite:   Where did your inspiration come from for both starting your own business and the business you chose?

Anna-Sophie:  Growing up, I didn’t know any entrepreneurs, so I never thought about becoming one myself. I also didn’t know any women who actively invested, but I always had a fascination with money, so I taught myself to invest at the age of 19. I quickly fell in love with it, but as none of my friends shared my passion, it became a lonely love affair. 

Puzzled by this lack of female investors,  I started researching the topic. I learned that women are falling financially behind. They earn less, save less and fail to invest their money. Among the key drivers of this problem is widespread financial illiteracy and a lack of targeted offers and role models.

I didn’t know how to solve this problem, until I started university and met my Co-Founder Emma Bitz. She shared my passion for investing and had been working as a certified stockbroker since the age of 20. We immediately bonded, and the idea to start Female Invest arose in our first-ever conversation. 

When we started Female Invest, we initially thought it would be a hobby project, uniting a smaller group of women with an interest in investing. However, we quickly realized that the demand was much larger than anyone could have anticipated. We then decided to take the leap, found a company and become full-time entrepreneurs. The rest is history. Today, Female Invest is Northern Europe’s leading financial educator targeting women. We have helped more than 25,000 women across 33 countries get started investing. 

Women and Finances: Influences

Credit Suite: Who were the female influences in your life and how did they help you in your business endeavors? 

Anna-Sophie: While I may not know many female entrepreneurs or investors, I know many women who are fierce and inspirational in different ways. Emma, Camilla and I often talk about how we find inspiration in different people at different points in time, depending on the challenges we are facing. We also use each other as role models within different areas, and I highly value that. 

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Women and Finances: Balance

Credit Suite:  What are your tips for work life balance? 

Anna- Sophie:  My best tip is to find a job you love, so you don’t live your life waiting for the weekend. The term “work-life” balance insinuates that work should be a separate entity. But in my experience, being truly passionate about your work makes it possible to build a harmonic life where work is not something to escape.  In our team, we are living for the mission to financially empower women and that passion doesn’t stop when the workday does. 

Women and Finances: Challenges

Credit Suite: What are the specific challenges women face when trying to get funding versus men? 

Anna- Sophie: Today, female founders receive less than 2% of venture capital funding.  That is despite performing better over time following funding. Research shows this might be because female founders are often held to different standards. This is seen as female founders are more likely to be asked about risks and to be judged on current achievements. Male founders are more likely to be asked about and judged upon their potential. At the same time, the venture capital world is heavily dominated by middle aged men, who may struggle to recognize the potential in products outside their own target group.

Credit Suite: There are aspects of our culture, certainly in America, where negotiating is the norm and not the exception. In the US, that’s particularly true for buying a house or a car, new or used, and for starting a new job or asking for a raise. At the same time, a lot of women aren’t taught to question prices. What sort of tips would you give to women who want to learn how to effectively negotiate?

Anna- Sophie: Women face a unique set of challenges when negotiating. Firstly, women are not taught to question prices/wages in the same way as men. Secondly, research shows that women are perceived differently when they do. This is a societal problem that women cannot solve alone. However, when navigating this unfortunate reality, my best advice is to base negotiations on facts rather than feelings. 

Credit Line Hybrid Financing:  Get up to $150,000 in financing so your business can thrive. 

Women and Finances: Lessons to Future Generations

Credit Suite: What sorts of financial lessons should we be imparting to our daughters and granddaughters? How do we help them become financially literate?

Anna- Sophie: We need to break the stereotypes around women and money and teach our girls that they are fully capable of handling their money. In order to do this, we need to change the way we communicate about money to girls. 

Following extensive linguistic research, money and personal finance is communicated very differently to men and women. Communication aimed at women tend to define them as “spenders” who need to limit their outgoings in order to save. 

By contrast, communication targeting men tends to portray them as skillful investors, highlighting the financial landscape as packed with opportunity rather than risk. Therefore, the first step to increase financial literacy among women is to give them confidence and make them feel capable. Because they are. In fact, female investors achieve higher average returns than male investors.

Women and Finances: More About Female Invest

Female Invest is run by co-founders Emma Bitz, Anna-Sophie Hartvigsen , and Camilla Falkenbert. They share the work equally and have a team of employees. More than 25,000 women have physically attended their educational events. In order to scale faster, they have now transitioned into a subscription platform with members in 33 countries.

Women and Finances: Funding

Anna-Sophie and the team at Female Invest got a great jump on funding and support with the Cartier Women’s Initiative.  However, grants of any sort are rarely enough for completely funding a business.  Often, there is a need to combine with financing and even other grants, crowdfunding, or investors to fully get the job done.  Let’s explore some of these options. 

Other Grants for Women Business Owners

It’s no secret that grant programs are highly competitive.  Still, they are usually worth the effort to apply.  You really do not have anything to lose except time, and maybe an application fee.  If you win, it’s free money.  Still, as I said above, grants are rarely enough to fully fund a business.  They are a fabulous option to supplement other funding types however. Here are a few more to check out.

SBA Women’s Business Centers

The SBA Women’s Business Centers not only help with loans.  They also help women entrepreneurs access other business funding options. Some lend money or award grants directly.  Others help connect women entrepreneurs with lenders.  Their website offers many resources and opportunities to find out more. 

Eileen Fisher Women Owned Business Grants

Eileen Fisher hands out $100,000 per year to 10 businesses owned by women. A woman must have at least 51% ownership.  Also, the business must be in operation for at least three years. Lastly, it must bring in less than $1 million per year in revenue and have a focus on environmental or social change.  

Amber Grant 

The Amber Grant awards $500 to $1,000 per month to a business owned by a female. One of the recipients also receives an additional $10,000 grant at the end of the year. Applicants only need to tell their story and turn it in with a $15 application fee.   

Crowdfunding

One way to reduce the amount of loans you need to start and run your business is crowdfunding.   It gives today’s business owners a new way to build a successful business. Of course, not everyone with a campaign on a crowdfunding site is successful.  Funding a business with crowdfunding doesn’t happen without a lot of hard work and a fair amount of luck. Unfortunately, it often doesn’t happen at all. To succeed at crowdfunding, you have to research what works, what doesn’t, and then cross your fingers. Truthfully, it may work, and it may not.

If you decide to go for it, make sure you have incentives ready.  This can be what makes or breaks a campaign. 

Kickstarter and Indiegogo are two of the most popular crowdfunding platforms to use. Some work better for specific types of businesses than others.  In addition, some may have higher success rates for women than others. Research is key.

The Small Business Administration

Female business owners in the United States can benefit from the help of the Small Business Administration. Though not specifically for women alone, the SBA offers government backed loan programs.  

7(a) Loans

This program offers term loans up to $5 million. You can use them  for expansion, purchasing equipment, working capital and more. Financial institutions in partnership with the SBA process these loans and give out the funds. 

504 Loans 

These loans are also available up to $5 million.  They can buy machinery, facilities, or land. Generally, borrowers use them for expansion.  Private sector lenders or nonprofits process and disburse the funds, and they work especially well for commercial real estate purchases. 

Credit Line Hybrid Financing:  Get up to $150,000 in financing so your business can thrive.  

Microloans 

Microloans are available in amounts up to $50,000. They work well for startup, equipment purchases, inventory purchases, or for working capital. Community based nonprofits handle microloan programs as intermediaries.  Unlike other SBA programs, financing comes directly from the Small Business Administration. 

Angel Investors

These are informal investors.  They generally invest in the start of a company, typically in exchange for equity.

The best way to find these kinds of investors is to ask. Try an angel investors website or an angel investors network. Also check out  Gust, which used to be Angel Soft. They keep a database of investors, companies, and programs. 

To land an angel investor, you are going to need an awesome pitch deck.  Do not just jump into a project like that.  Take the time to research what a pitch project involves.  It has to pop. 

Women and Finances: You Can Survive the Battleground

Anna-Sophie is a warrior.  She saw a need, seized and opportunity, and made it happen.  She didn’t do it alone however.  It took the help of her partners.  It also took here willingness to seek out and go after the funding necessary to run and grow her business.  You can be just as successful.  Find the help and support you need, find the business funding necessary, and make your dreams come true. 

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