Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized’ Category

Womensnet: Angel Investors for Women Owned Businesses

Thursday, November 18th, 2010



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I asked my friend and nationally acclaimed business writer, Marcia Layton Turner, to share some information on angel investors – and the opportunities available to women business owners and entrepreneurs. I was partly drawn to the topic of angel investors because one such investor will be reviewing all the Amber Grant applications this quarter for an opportunity. I hope you’ll find a nugget or two in what Marcia has to share!

Angel Investors for Women Owned Businesses: Is It Right for You?
By Marcia Layton Turner

Rather than taking on debt through loans, you may be able to interest investors in providing funding in exchange for part ownership in your women owned business.

If you’re willing to consider an equity investment in your company to get it up-and-running, versus debt from a bank or other lender, angel investors may be just what you need. Typically providing a first round of funding to help a business start up or expand, angel investors take part ownership of your company in exchange for a cash infusion. Some women entrepreneurs find the prospect of angel investors intriguing.

Although you don’t hear a lot about them, angel investors are everywhere. Angel investors, or angels for short, are individuals or groups of individuals who have money to invest in startup businesses. They provide cash in exchange for part ownership of your company, much like venture capitalists, but on a smaller scale.

Here’s something to consider if you’re a woman looking for funding for your small business. Where venture capitalists may not be interested in startup companies or those needing less than, say, $1 million, angels are mainly interested in getting in on the ground floor. They will typically invest from around $100,000 up to as much as $5 million in a company hoping to be able to take their money out within five years, at a 25-30% return. However, $1 million investments are far more common than $5 million. In addition, companies needing more than $5 million or that do not anticipate providing investors a sizeable return will have more difficulty attracting the attention of angels.

National angel networks

Two of the biggest national angel investor networks include:

Active Capital
Fee: $199
Investment size: $250,000 – $5 million

Excluded ventures:

  • sole proprietorships
  • partnerships
  • limited liability partnerships
  • “blank check” companies (companies intending to invest in future ventures)
  • development stage companies that have no specific business plan or purpose
  • development stage companies whose business plan is to merge or be acquired by an unidentified company
  • investment companies registered or required to register under the Investment Company Act of 1940
  • companies involved in oil, gas, or other mineral or extractive interests
    For more information, contact:
    Office of Technology Transfer and Commercialization (OTTC)
    California State University, San Bernardino
    5500 University Parkway
    San Bernardino, CA 92407
    Investors’ Circle
    Fee: $150 + $995 if your application is approved for participation in a venture fair
    Investment size: $10,000 – $5 million
    Ventures of particular interest:
  • Energy & Environmental Solutions
  • Organics & Natural Products
  • Education & Media
  • Health & Wellness
  • Community & International Development

    For more information, contact:

    Investors’ Circle
    165 11th Street
    San Francisco, CA 94103

    State angel networks

    Some angel investors prefer to limit their investments to companies that operate in their geographic area, so they can be more personally involved. For that reason, be sure and check the state-by-state directory that Gaebler offers. Not all states have angel investor networks, however. In those cases, you may have luck contacting those in a neighboring state.

    You can find a state-by-state directory here:

    Once you’ve located a potential investor group, carefully read the list of excluded ventures to be sure yours does not fall into one of the categories that are not of interest. If you find a match between what the network is interested in investing in and your type of business and funding needs, fill out an application.

  • Feature Article: 3 Counterintuitive Lessons of Being a Solopreneur

    Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

    A couple weeks ago we asked members of womensnet.net to send us any articles they would like to share with other women entrepreneurs. We’re sharing a great one today from noted author Selena Rezavani.

    SelenaRezavani

    Please let us know how you liked the article, and what other subjects you’d like to see us cover in the future.
    Thanks – and have a great day!!

    3 Counterintuitive Lessons of Being a Solopreneur
    By Selena Rezvani

    Opening my own business has meant learning so many lessons along the way — often making it feel like I’m ‘building the airplane while flying it.’ Below are some of the more counterintuitive things I’ve learned while growing my speaking and consulting business,
    NextGenWomen, LLC.

    1. Don’t Think You Have to Start Small
    One piece of conventional wisdom you’ll hear again and again is to take on small clients, small gigs, or small steps as a means to groom yourself for bigger challenges. While this is a nice way to gradually build confidence and manage risk, I’ve found in my own line of work, the opposite was helpful. When I was getting ready for my book tour last winter, I reached out to many universities,
    corporations, and bookstores to secure speaking engagements.

    Believe it or not, the very first group to say yes was Harvard business school. Nerve-wracking as it was to start right at the top of the academic food chain, I leaned into the risk opportunity. That experience gave me an incredible jolt. Most of all, it helped me see myself in a different, more capable light, increased the credibility of my brand, and paved the way for me to get more great speaking gigs around the country.

    2. It’s Okay to Say No
    Starting out as a business owner, it’s tempting to say ‘yes’ to everything. After all, you don’t want to miss out on a potentially favorable relationship, partnership, lead, or deal. The problem with saying ‘yes’ to the world is that you don’t have much energy,focus or intellect left to devote to your business. Saying no doesn’t feel good. But it doesn’t have to be pure black or white. I’ve found that shifting in-person meetings to phone meetings-thereby eliminating the “timesuck” of travel-has made a big difference. Creating some boundaries, like starting a phone call by explaining that you have 30 minutes to devote-has helped keep me on track and helps my associate set expectations for how long we can talk. Saying no to an idea or proposal can also mean saying no for now, not forever.

    3. Self-Reflection Never Stops…Even if You’re the Expert
    While we’re not accustomed to hearing ‘self-reflection’ and ‘business’ in the same sentence, the act of looking in the mirror intensifies, not lessens, after you start a business. Why? You no longer have that corporate job obscuring the real you, including your most gaping weaknesses and most dazzling strengths. Facing reality means looking long and hard at who you are, what you believe in, and what your top values are. For me this was never more relevant that when I started writing my Washington Post column. For every person that loved the position I took on an issue, there was someone else who hated it and fervently objected. The process of thickening one’s skin is probably the most important part of self-reflection. So pull out that Johari window, get a coach, and figure out your blind spots before others do.

    The moral of the story here? Take good old business advice for what it is, which is guidance that works well for the majority, and remember that there are always exceptions.

    About Selena:

    Selena Rezvani is a recognized authority on women and leadership.
    She is the founder and president of NextGenWomen, LLC
    (www.nextgenwomen.com), and is a leading author, speaker, and consultant regarding women and the workplace.

    Rezvani established NextGenWomen while writing her debut book,”The Next Generation of Women Leaders: What You Need to Lead but Won’t Learn in Business School” (Praeger, 2009) and after identifying the need for Gen X and Y women to be seen as a leadership pipeline.

    Her experience and success in the women and leadership arena makes Rezvani a frequent resource for news media and an in-demand business speaker. She has been quoted, interviewed, and profiled by CareerBuilder, The Wall Street Journal, ForbesWoman, NBC television, and ABC television. She is a regular commentator on NPR‟s nationally syndicated The 51% Perspective and writes a women and leadership
    column for The Washington Post.

    Selena received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Social Work degrees from New York University, and has an MBA from Johns Hopkins,where she graduated first in her class.

    ** Another quick reminder that we’d love to have you apply for the Amber Grant if you haven’t already done it for this quarter. Also, we mentioned two weeks ago that one of our judges is willing to offer to become an Angel Investor for any business that catches their eye. Just another reason to apply today if you haven’t already.

    Writing a Smart Business Plan Can Help You Get Money

    Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

    Quite a few women wrote me after my last email to ask if they needed to submit a business plan to apply for the womensnet.net Amber Grant. I’m glad to say the answer is no. Applying for the Amber Grant takes only a few minutes of your time. Not only is it simple, but I dare say it’s even fun for most women to share their ideas and thoughts about business ownership.
    But – you should know that almost all banks, lending institutions, investors, or grant underwriters will want to see your business plan before offering you money for your small business. (Honestly, some of the most successful business ideas I’ve been involved with were outlined over several drinks at a local pub – but most banks don’t accept notes on a bar napkin as a business plan… too bad!!)

    With all that said, if you’re a woman entrepreneur looking for money for your small business, you should most certainly take the time to create a business plan. I don’t want you to be intimated by the task, so I thought I would take the time to give you a general idea of what banks or grant underwriters are looking for – along with a few tips to help sway them.

    The fundamentals of a business plan are simple. Anyone considering giving you money for your small business wants to know two basic things. First they want to know some details about your business. And, second, they want to know how you plan to grow your business in the future. Not too complicated, right?

    Now let’s break down the essential parts of creating your small business plan:

    1. Title Page – This page identifies your business and contact information. It should include the name of your business, mailing and/or physical address, phone number, fax number, email address, website URL, as well as the names of the owners of the business. It’s also a good idea to note when your business was formed, and what type of legal entity your business is formed under.

    2. Table of Contents – Tell them what you’re going tell them. Give the reader a sneak peek of what they can expect to see in the rest of the document. Just write a sentence or two for each section to pique the interest of the reader.

    3. Introduction – Start with a brief one-page summary of why you created your business plan. In other words, tell them your objective. In this case, you will explain why you need money for your business. Next, you should describe your business. Nothing elaborate. Just get the point across in a few sentences. The final part of the Introduction section is to tell the potential lender, investor or grant underwriter about your background and how you were inspired to come up with your business. Include your special skill-set or experiences that are relevant to your business venture. This is your chance to sell them on your business’ most important asset – YOU!

    4. Business Description – You want to explain to them the specifics of the products or services you provide. Please take this time to brag a little about what you do. For example, if you are starting a baked goods business, don’t just say you sell baked goods. Give a reason of what makes what you unique. You have a baked goods business that uses only vegan and organic ingredients. Or you specialize in wedding cakes. Or, as one small business owner near me has named her storefront – she is the “Pie Lady.” Guess who every restaurant owner in town thinks of when they want to buy the best pies for their customers?

    5. Personnel – A potential lender wants to know about any other key people who are helping you with your business. If other folks are directly involved in your business, your small business plan should mention it. Who are they? What will they do? And what are their special skills and experiences? Be sure to talk up other members of your team.

    6. Operations – This section describes the day-to-day operations of your business. You should take the time here to explain the procedures for production and delivery of your goods or services. It’s also worth telling the reader about some boring but important stuff – your equipment needs, your hiring procedures, the details of any vendor contracts, lease agreements, insurance policies. Yes, boring, but any astute investor will be impressed that you had the smarts to mention these crucial items.

    7. Marketing – Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Anyone with an interest in giving you money will want to know how you plan to make MORE money with your business. Estimate your customer demand along with identifying your market and its size. Make sure to explain how you’re going to market your product or service. Let them know who your competition is, and your marketing strategy for making your business stand out. What is your pricing strategy? What makes your product or service unique? Here’s a tip: You might want to actually write this section first when you create your business plan. It will take the most time and energy because marketing is the cornerstone to your success. You have to know who you’re selling your product or service to and how to sell it.

    8. Financial Management – This might be the most scrutinized part of your business plan. Here is a check list of what you should include:

    * Projected start up costs: How much money will you need to get your business started, and what are you going to be spending that money on.

    * Monthly operating budget for the first 2 years: How much money will it require to run your business each month.

    * Projected monthly cash flow for the first 2 years: Cash flow shows how much revenue your business earns, minus how much it spends.

    * Projected income statement got the first 2 years: How much revenue do you expect to produce in your business start-up phase?

    * Your projected profit and loss: Show how much money you expect to make.

    * Your break-even point: How much profit will you have to make to pay back your initial investment?

    * Your compensation for working the business: If you tell a lender that you don’t plan to take any salary, you had better be independently wealthy! Otherwise, factor in a reasonable salary.

    * Your personal financial statement: They’ll want to know most everything about your personal finances.

    * Supporting Documents: It’s a smart idea to include any supporting information that would help convince the reader that your plan is viable and your working assumptions are reasonable.

    9. Conclusion – These are your final thoughts to share. Mention again your business aims, and the amount of money you’ll need from a third party. This is also a good place to restate your passion and personal commitment to your business.

    Please let us know what your thoughts are. We enjoy your feedback.

    WNN Grant Update

    Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

    We’re excited to tell you about some new things happening on womensnet.net that I’m sure will help you.

    ** First, a quick reminder that we’re still taking Amber Grant applications for this quarter. Plus we have more exciting news for Amber Grant applicants: one of the people who reviews the applications has agreed to become an angel investor for a select business. The angel investment is not guaranteed each quarter. But what it DOES means to you is that even if you were not awarded the Amber Grant – you could still catch the eye of an angel investor. It’s just another opportunity to gain FREE funding for your business or business idea. And it would give the chance to work with a successful entrepreneur who can help mentor you along the way.

    ** We’re redesigning the womensnet.net site and re-launching it next week. Along with that new look, we’re looking for women who want to submit articles on any range of topics within the business world. Tell us how you launched your business, how you got your start-up money, or any lessons you’ve learned along the way that you’d like to share with others. Besides helping other women with their business dreams, you’ll be getting some valuable exposure for your business as well. If you’re interested in submitting an article, please shoot me an email at womensnetnet@gmail.com

    ** Also as part of our re-launch, we’re going to provide more assistance on micro-loan funding. It seems this is a bigger trend in other countries than here in the U.S., but if you’ve had a good experience with a micro-lender, please tell us about your experience.

    ** I came across an article that might inspire you – besides mentioning a character from one of my favorite TV shows of the 1970s, Alice from the “Brady Bunch.” Check out the article, which lists a list of unique businesses (mostly web-driven), and maybe it will spark an idea for you. Daily Finance Article.

    ** A recent October article by Bloomberg News should offer encouragement for women entrepreneurs. The article reports that – according to the US Department of Commerce – women-owned businesses grew at a much greater pace than male-owned businesses. Companies owned by women grew at 44% vs. 22% for those owned by men. Rebecca Blank, the Commerce undersecretary of economic affairs said, “There’s clearly a sense here, if you look into the future, of an enormous growth opportunity for women-owned businesses in the private sector.”

    ** More good news for us women. According to a “Washington Post” article from this past Saturday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is implementing a rule designed to give women-owned businesses a greater shot at winning more federal government contracts. The SBA has identified a whopping 83 categories in which women-owned businesses have been underrepresented. A current federal law already mandates that 5% of federal contracts go to women-owned businesses. But the reality is that only 3.68% of all government contracts went to women in 2009. The new SBA rule is trying to simply get the federal government to comply with its own law.

    WNN Womens’ Grant Update

    Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

    We’re excited to tell you about some new things happening on womensnet.net that I’m sure will help you.
    ** First, a quick reminder that we’re still taking Amber Grant applications for this quarter. Plus we have more exciting news for Amber Grant applicants: one of the people who reviews the applications has agreed to become an angel investor for a select business. The angel investment is not guaranteed each quarter. But what it DOES means to you is that even if you were not awarded the Amber Grant – you could still catch the eye of an angel investor. It’s just another opportunity to gain FREE funding for your business or business idea. And it would give the chance to work with a successful entrepreneur who can help mentor you along the way.

    ** We’re redesigning the womensnet.net site and re-launching it next week. Along with that new look, we’re looking for women who want to submit articles on any range of topics within the business world. Tell us how you launched your business, how you got your start-up money, or any lessons you’ve learned along the way that you’d like to share with others. Besides helping other women with their business dreams, you’ll be getting some valuable exposure for your business as well. If you’re interested in submitting an article, please shoot me an email at womensnetnet@gmail.com

    ** Also as part of our re-launch, we’re going to provide more assistance on micro-loan funding. It seems this is a bigger trend in other countries than here in the U.S., but if you’ve had a good experience with a micro-lender, please tell us about your experience.

    ** I came across an article that might inspire you – besides mentioning a character from one of my favorite TV shows of the 1970s, Alice from the “Brady Bunch.” Check out the article, which lists a list of unique businesses (mostly web-driven), and maybe it will spark an idea for you. Daily Finance Article.

    ** A recent October article by Bloomberg News should offer encouragement for women entrepreneurs. The article reports that – according to the US Department of Commerce – women-owned businesses grew at a much greater pace than male-owned businesses. Companies owned by women grew at 44% vs. 22% for those owned by men. Rebecca Blank, the Commerce undersecretary of economic affairs said, “There’s clearly a sense here, if you look into the future, of an enormous growth opportunity for women-owned businesses in the private sector.”

    ** More good news for us women. According to a “Washington Post” article from this past Saturday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is implementing a rule designed to give women-owned businesses a greater shot at winning more federal government contracts. The SBA has identified a whopping 83 categories in which women-owned businesses have been underrepresented. A current federal law already mandates that 5% of federal contracts go to women-owned businesses. But the reality is that only 3.68% of all government contracts went to women in 2009. The new SBA rule is trying to simply get the federal government to comply with its own law.

    Clever Container May Be a Clever Idea for You!

    Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

    Because we giveaway the Womensnet Amber Grant every quarter, there are many business ideas that we come across that we feel the need to spotlight. I recently corresponded with Karen Eschbach, President and Founder of Clever Container. I’m so intrigued with her business idea that I wanted to pass along her information — for those of you who may be laid off, wanting to switch careers, or even supplement your existing income. I believe this business model can work in any demographic area in the United States. Unless there are areas that prefer to be disorganized that we don’t know about!

    Karen advised that Cleaver Containers is a “business very similar to Avon, Mary Kay and Pampered Chef except we present and sell organizing products. Our consultants either purchase or earn a (starter) kit. Once they receive the kid, they show the products at home parties and earn commission the night of the party.”

    Here is Clever Container’s information:

    karen@clevercontainer.com
    www.clevercontainer.com
    www.organizingjustgotfun.com
    313-804-0523