A note from our editor, Elizabeth MacBride:
My co-author Seth Levine and I had an exciting weekend. Journalist Michel Martin interviewed us on NPR’s All Things Considered about our book, The New Builders: Face To Face With The True Future Of Business, coming out May 4th.
Here’s the segment, where we advocate for a new movement of support for small businesses, including real financial system reform and a mindset shift.
We were part of a longer program that looked at small business in Washington, D.C. I’m also a Washingtonian with a soft spot for the real city that exists underneath the federal capital. In the segment before ours, Martin interviewed food blogger Anela Malik about the soul of the city.
Washington had seen a huge renaissance in fine dining before the pandemic, but Martin and Malik spoke about how the surge of support for Black-owned restaurants has trickled away. “I am worried about restaurants and small businesses in general. But I do see a lot of resiliency in that community,” Malik said.
Seth and I are worried, too. The answer won’t be patchwork solutions, but a real commitment to rebuilding our finance system for small businesses – we outline the why and how in our book. In the meantime, on NPR, I suggested that people who work in big business settings take a hard look at how they behave, especially if you’re in an executive role.
Over my years as a freelancer and solopreneur, I’ve had many clients make cruel demands – work over Christmas, for instance – that they’d never make of employees. Big companies pay late, essentially financing themselves on the backs of small business owners. I’ve known friends who lost substantial clients because they missed a deadline because of a child in the hospital, and one who lost her house when a client didn’t pay.
Obviously, your obligations are lower toward a vendor than an employee. But who decided ruthlessness was the right way to run the business world? Consistently manifested ruthlessness is a mental illness or a mortal sin in my book. Certainly our blind acceptance of it is fairly new – and I believe whether we live with this out-of-balance business culture is up to us.
Times of Entrepreneurship Stories of the Week
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The Top Angel for Diverse Entrepreneurs, Joanne Wilson, Offers A No-Holds-Barred View On How Women Differ
Shed your fear and embrace the good news: Women do grow into their CEO roles, says Gotham Gal Wilson in this video interview with Times of E journalist Skyler Rossi.
The Hub: CBD Business Boost From The Polsky Center, EforAll’s New Director And A Twin Cities Ag Initiative
Tiffany Joi was trying to help her mom cope with chronic pain when she introduced her CBD oil. Then the Polsky Center helped her to take her marketing to a new level. Elsewhere, TCF Bank has provided $1 million io the Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance, and more than a dozen food companies partnered to support tag acceleration in the Twin Cities.
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ADVICE FOR ENTREPRENEURS
Women and the five-year horizon: Not every company is VC funded or should be, as this piece makes clear.
But if you are a woman seeking equity finance, check out the video interview of Joanne Wilson, one of the leading angels for women founders, and author of the Gotham Gal blog. She suggests two ways women are different. For one, they do undersell themselves. But she has also seen them grow into CEO roles. If you’re having trouble making the transition from underdog founder to master of the universe, take heart. Second, she says, women hang on to ideas and situations for a longer time. Sometimes, that’s a negative, if their energy would be better spent on a hard, fast pivot. But it could also be an advantage as companies born too soon may eventually find themselves in the middle of exploding markets, if their CEOs have the patience to wait for the right conditions.
She also suggests a good strategy for pitching — if you’re in the 1% of startups that is made for the VC world. Consider whether you can make the case to an angel or seed investor that your idea will be in the middle of a booming market in five years. In other words, put your strategic mind to work as you craft your pitch deck. And by the way — women are thought to be both better strategists and investors when they combine their intuition and ability to listen to advice.