As if being a woman isn’t hard enough (boobs and periods are enough to drive you crazy), then try running your own business, while balancing kids and dogs and husbands (or no husband, in my case) at home. And then try to stay healthy, see your friends, keep your hair and nails and brows in perfect shape…and…and…and…you get the picture.
And even though we’ve proven that we can do all that with one hand tied behind our backs, it still doesn’t seem to make us credible enough to convince the “man” (literally) that we deserve financing to grow our businesses. Sorry to be a downer, but I’m just the messenger. And someone who has lived through it.
Did you know that only 2 per cent of VC funding goes to female-led companies? It’s a fact. A downright depressing one. But here’s another (not surprising) fact: “Female-founded startups outperform their male counterparts’ in terms of revenue, bringing in $730,000 over a five-year period versus $662,000 for the men. “ Another way to put it (I love numbers): companies run by women are returning 78 cents per dollar compared to 31 cents for the men. (It doesn’t take a math genius to realize that something doesn’t add up.)
Why am I telling you all of this? Not just to rant (which does feel pretty damn good) but to let you know that despite the hurdles, I haven’t given up and have even gathered a few valuable insights along the way.
I could share with you all the alternative methods of financing (grants, loans, etc., etc.) or some inspirational stories about how I stretched a dollar to last nine months (not quite, but close). But the biggest thing I’ve learned is that the most important thing you can do is change your perspective.
Many (a.k.a. all) VCs are looking for exponential growth. Of course that’s a beautiful thing but I have to call bullsh*t. Instead of trying to inflate my business to please them (to the detriment of my mental and physical health), I now focus on growing a healthy, sustainable business that enriches the lives of others (readers, advertisers and my employees) and fulfills my professional and personal needs without blowing my brains out. I’ve never seen anyone become disappointed by creating a seven-figure business model and consistently taking home a six-figure salary (so those investors can take their hockey stick growth and stick it up their you know whats). It will take time, but eventually you will find a partner/investor who respects and appreciates what you are doing. I did.
The other big thing I’ve learned (albeit the hard way) is that taking money from investors is not a favour. You can’t and shouldn’t feel guilty, bad, indebted — like it’s some sort of pity party. (I think we can thank the XX chromosome for that.) It’s a business transaction where both parties are taking a chance and both parties are working together for a mutually beneficial outcome. It’s that simple (or not).
I recently read an article by Nasty Gal and Girlboss founder, Sophia Amoruso. She put it perfectly when she said it like this: “I’m out raising money right now from investors, and it’s easy to tell myself I’m asking for their money. But I’m not. As I’ve grown more, discovered my self-worth and the value we’ve created here at Girlboss, I now know that I’m giving them the privilege of investing in our future. “ You go, girl.
So for all the fearless female founders out there, don’t give up. Let’s cheer each other on, support each other and maybe even invest in each other once in a while. As one of my other favourite femmes, Queen Bey, says “Who runs the world? Girls.”