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Women’s Entrepreneurial Journeys Media Roundtable




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Rhonda Abrams

USA Today Columnist

And Best-Selling Author

MS. ABRAMS:  Women today own an estimated 11.6 million businesses, employ nearly 9 million people, and generate more than 1.7 trillion, and that's trillion, with a T, in annual revenue.  So, I'm going to turn to you, Barbara, tell us what numbers like these reveal about the state of women business owners today. 


Barbara Roberts

Entrepreneur in Residence, Columbia and Hofstra

Author of U.S. Trust White Paper

MS. BARBARA ROBERTS: I think what those numbers show is that women are doing significant contributions to the world through innovation, through job creation, and adding extremely big dollars to our economy. 



The Role of Mentorship

MS. ABRAMS: I want to jump to the question about the importance of women having mentors.  You talked about having role models. Where is that role for women to play to help bring on the next generation or the current generation as a mentor, too?


Megan Driscoll

Founder and CEO, EvolveMKD

U.S. Trust White Paper Participant

MS. DRISCOLL:  Yeah, I think that's really important having mentors. Being a business owner is very challenging, so being able to have people you can turn to in tough times.  And then, I think, you know, paying it forward, too, and mentoring, whether it's your employees or other women in other industries, you know, I had talked to a lot of female entrepreneurs that are starting out, to try to lend my help and my knowledge, just so they can maybe avoid some of the mistakes I made when I started.

MS. ROBERTS:  I think one of the advantages of women entrepreneurs is really listening and caring about people and, you know, doing something with that. 


Karen Reynolds Sharkey

National Business Owner Strategy Executive

MS. REYNOLDS-SHARKEY:  it came through loud and clear in our paper of how many of the women were giving back to younger entrepreneurs, but also, to their employees and to their community, but also, not just mentors, but also, networks. 

Maxine Clark from Build-a-Bear was also featured in the paper, and I just loved one of her quotes was one of the best things you could do is just take a younger woman to a meeting with you.


MS. ABRAMS:  Wow. 

MS. REYNOLDS-SHARKEY:  It's simple as that, and just letting her see the questions that are asked, how you interact in the meeting, we can all help each other by opening that door, providing that introduction, taking someone to a meeting with you, it all kind of adds up together of us, as a community, helping each other. 


Financing Your Company

MS. ABRAMS: One of the challenges for women business owners is they're balancing their own financial security with what's best for their business, so what are some of the dos and don'ts for women, women who should be aware of?  Should a woman entrepreneur bootstrap her own company?  What's some of your advice that you've come to in the U.S. Trust study?


MS. KAREN REYNOLDS-SHARKEY:  I think, Rhonda, that is the big question for a lot of entrepreneurs. And what we have found through our research is about two thirds of business owners, when they start the business, really rely on family resources, their own kind of retirement accounts, cash, credit cards, personal loans from the family, maybe some friends-of-family investing initially to kind of get the business kind of up and off the ground.  But then, once they start growing the business, the question really is, how do you continue to grow? 

And we found a lot of the entrepreneurs in our paper actually wanted to continue to organically grow their company themselves, using the profits from the company, to your point, kind of reinvesting it back in the company versus kind of looking to outside investors, and what that allows, is they keep a bit more of maybe the control of the company, their autonomy, being able to control kind of that people culture that they wanted to create, giving their employees benefits, good training, even small entrepreneurs because, again, they want to create an environment that they would want to kind of go work at themselves is the type of environment that they're creating. 

It could be at the detriment of profit, but we actually believe that, if you have an engaged employee group, you're going to retain your employees. You're not going to have to constantly be recruiting, and that they will actually be more efficient and productive over time. 


Download U.S. Trust’s “Women’s Entrepreneurial Journeys” white paper

to read more about other successful business owners





Recorded on April 18, 2018


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Excerpts from a panel discussion highlight lessons from the Women’s Entrepreneurial Journeys white paper. 

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