Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized’ Category

Online Transparency Goes a Long Way

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Whenever we help startups with their marketing, we preach the importance of being open and honest about who they are as a company.

Who they are as a company ultimately boils down to the individual people involved in the project.

In a world where it’s easier than ever to find out exactly who you’re doing business with and what others have to say about them, transparency is no longer something that gives you an edge – it’s essential.

If you’re not willing to tell potential clients and customers exactly who you are and what you stand for, they can find someone who will. And that someone else is likely just a few clicks away.

Makes sense, right? What doesn’t make sense is that we weren’t practicing what we’ve been preaching.

We took a long hard look at our website and realized that we had some work to do in the transparency department ourselves! We sat down as a group and thought of every question that a woman interested in applying for a grant might have for us and then we answered them here in our new FAQ Page.

Then, we decided to ditch the stock photography and tell you exactly who we are by sharing the photos and bios of our advisory board members.

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We hope that these efforts help to give you a better idea of who we are and what we stand for – and please, if you have any questions that we haven’t answered – let us know.

Pig of the Month Wins March Amber Grant

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Congratulations to our latest WomensNet.net Amber Grant Winner, Lea Richards.

Lea is the President of Pig of the Month, a mail order meats company specializing in BBQ.  Continue on to learn more about her company, her motivation, and her advice for women entrepreneurs…

WN: Congratulations on winning the March Amber Grant!

LR: Thank you so so much!  This is amazing!

WN: Where did the idea for Pig of the Month come from?

LR: I had just left my job in finance, and moved back home to try and figure out the next step.  Father’s Day was coming up, so I ordered ribs from a competitor for my Dad. When they came we were so disappointed by the quality of the meats and presentation that my dad remarked that I could do a better job — so, we researched it a little bit, and gave it a go!  We named it Pig of the Month since you can get all sorts of different kinds of piggy products delivered to you every month.

WN: How did you find others to get involved?

LR: It’s grown very organically.  I’ve hired people that I have come across during normal business activities.  For instance, our sales guy used to be our FedEx rep – he impressed me so much that I just knew I had to have him on board. Hiring is tough, so if you see someone in action that impresses you it never hurts to ask them to join you.

WN: We know that you emphasize customer service.  Talk about how you make your customers feel appreciated.

LR: I think it’s very important to make every part of an interaction with your company a positive, memorable experience.  We use custom shipping notifications that are really funny, along with custom shipping labels to make even the mundane more fun.   When customers call us we always answer with a smile, and since we only have 2 people doing customer service, they typically remember you and ask about your family, the weather where you are, etc. to make the customers feel like they really are a part of our family.  Every little thing counts!

WN: How do you plan to change the way this generation looks at food?

LR: I think we need to move away from mass produced foods with unrecognizable ingredients to whole foods that are made fresh.  We’re doing it through the products we sell, and the informational videos and blog posts we do on our site as well.  It’s important to us that we make sure our customers know why our products may be a little more expensive, but a lot better for them.   Let’s get rid of the preservatives and nitrates once and for all!

WN: What advice would you give to other women who are interested in starting their own business?

LR: Just get started!  The hardest part of starting a business for me was taking all the research and information from courses, etc and actually putting it into action.  Once you get going though, you can easily test every element of your plan out and see what actually works for you.  Don’t compare your success with anybody else’s – this might be their 3rd attempt, or 4th year in business.  You never know the backstory, and its not fair to compare your middle to their end – it will only leave you feeling bad.

New Study Says Women Entrepreneurs Shouldn’t Work With Their Husbands

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

A new study published in the American Sociological Review found that women entrepreneurs who start new businesses with men are less likely to lead those businesses. Furthermore, if they co-found a business with their husband, there are even fewer chances for them to be in charge.

Previous studies have only examined the issue of gender in equality in established organizations, so researchers used a nationally representative sample of 362 mixed-sex start-up teams made up of a total of 882 entrepreneurs. Seventy percent of the mixed-set teams were husband and wife duos.

“Our explanation for more pronounced gender inequality in spousal teams is that when husband and wife work together, they carry with them the cultural expectations for the male breadwinner and the female homemaker roles into the business setting”, said Tiantian Yang from the department of sociology at UNC Chapel Hill.

The good news is, Yang and his team found that gender inequality can be reduced when people adopt organizational templates, like signing a formal operating agreement.

When a formal ownership agreement has not been signed, men are found to be 85% more likely to be in charge.

Has anyone out there co-founded a business with their husband? How’d it go? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

And while you’re at it, if you’re launching or have already launched your own business (with or without a man), apply for our April Amber Grant. This month’s deadline in coming up quick!

How to Spend Your Amber Grant

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

You know your business better than we do. And we’re not afraid to admit it.

Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t accept a little assistance. You do believe in the old phrase, “two heads are better than one,” right?

With that in mind, we have a valuable list to share with you. It contains some common start-up costs – plus some ideas from our own business experience. We’ve also included a couple items frequently described in Amber Grant applications. The common theme? An Amber Grant can help fund (or completely fund) each of these purchases.

Of course, this list doesn’t encompass every start-up cost. To make sure that you don’t miss anything, be sure to thoroughly analyze your business needs. And when you do apply for an Amber Grant, don’t forget to disclose just what you’d like to use the money for.

On to the list…

1.) Computer: Computers are perhaps the most commonly referenced expense on Amber Grant applications. You can easily spend over a thousand dollars on a high-end, super-powered machine. Or, you can find a useful starter laptop for just a few hundred dollars. The money you save on a cost-effective computer could be put to better use, maybe for …

2.) Incorporation Fees: There’s a wealth of benefits to incorporating your business. Among them are the protection of your assets, lower taxes, and the ability to establish good credit – even if your personal credit rating is poor. Legalzoom is one of the most popular sites to offer this service.

3.) Web Site Hosting: So you’re looking to build a website … but you need a host. Will you use GoDaddy? HostGator? Another service? Put in the time to find the service that’s right for your business.

4.) Inventory: Understanding demand for your product will go a long way toward allocating the appropriate funds. If you’re just starting out, however, more homework can be done to find where you can purchase materials that fit your budget.

5.) Marketing/Advertising: Will you run a PPC (pay-per-click) campaign on the web? Will you pay for a radio spot? How about Facebook advertising? Business cards? Carefully planning your course of action – and budget – will be critical toward developing a sustainable business.

6.) PayPal: It’s a juggernaut in the online payment industry. But unfortunately, the service isn’t provided 100% free of charge. Be sure to read up on their different options to see which (if any) is right for you.

7.) Employee/Intern: In the past, grant money has been used to hire short-term workers. While many interns join just for experience, a stipend or commission payment structure can be a wonderful motivator. Sometimes, when the right candidate is found, they can become a long-term member of your organization.

Study: Female Entrepreneurs Pay Themselves Less Than Male Entrepreneurs

Monday, February 24th, 2014

A recent study from Babson College showed that female entrepreneurs pay themselves less than their male counterparts.

The study surveyed graduates of Goldman Sachs’s 10,000 Small Business Program. And it determined that women who entered into the program had average salaries that were just 80% of male entrepreneurs’.

Patricia Green, leader of the study, admitted that the results shocked her research team.

“I’m not sure if it’s benchmarking against salaried women, I’m not sure if it’s a lack of confidence [and] I’m not sure if it’s negotiating themselves down first. Sometimes women have a tendency to say, ‘I couldn’t possibly ask that. I’d better recalibrate that before I put that number out there.’”

Ariane Hegewisch, a study director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, suggests that women may be more risk averse, “keeping more money in the business until they are certain it will work out.”

While there may be some conservative tendencies, we’d hesitate to make a blanket conclusion based on 1 study. The type of business you enter into certainly plays a role. And who says there’s one “right” way to allocate personal funds and business funds? Regardless, we only hope that women entrepreneurs take home a paycheck that reflects their professional efforts.

Stay motivated, stay focused, and stay strong.

-The WomensNet Team

Smile: Getty Images & Sheryl Sandberg Are Making Stock Photos of Working Women More Empowering

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

No one can argue that original photography beats out stock photos every time – but sometimes stock photos just make sense. Unfortunately, until now – stock photography hasn’t represented professional women very well.

Search “working woman” on any popular stock photography site and you’ll get a whole bunch of stereotypes, and not much else. Women seductively pushing their glasses up as they peer over a typewriter, perfectly done up women in stiff pant suits holding a cell phone the size of a brick, and the occasional professionally dressed lady sporting a hard hat.

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Getty Images and Sheryl Sandberg’s LeanIn.org have partnered to produce a refreshing new collection of images that represent women and families in more empowering ways. Sure, there’s a pant suit or two to be found but you’ll also find the photos included below – and that’s certainly a step in the right direction.

The Lean In Collection has more than 2,500 images “celebrating powerful images of women, girls and the communities who support them,” Getty says in a statement. “The collection will serve as a resource for marketers, advertisers and media for use in their campaigns and communications. It arrives in time for Women’s History Month and the one-year anniversary of the publication of Sandberg’s best-selling book Lean In.”

While stock photography may seem like a non-issue, Sandberg notes, “You can’t be what you can’t see. In an age where media are all around us, it is critical that images provide examples that both women and men can emulate.”

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