The Next Generation of Women Entrepreneurs
By Kari Stoltz, Bank of America Triangle Market President and U.S. Trust Private Client Adviser
and Katy Knox, U.S. Trust President
Women-owned companies are making a bigger impact than ever before. Women own an estimated 11.6 million businesses, employ nearly 9 million people and contribute $1.7 trillion in revenue to the U.S. economy. And as the 8th fastest growing metropolitan area, we are seeing that progress here in the Triangle.
Today’s business owners are paving the way for the next generation of female CEOs, but the decision to start your own company can still be difficult. For entrepreneurs and women in particular, securing loans before becoming an established company, attracting and retaining talented employees and finding good financial and legal guidance are challenges that many face.
A new U.S. Trust Whitepaper, Women’s Entrepreneurial Journeys: Profiles of Leadership in an Era of New Opportunities, chronicles the stories of eight successful women business owners and shares advice and lessons learned, including:
Education and Experience – Women entrepreneurs value their education and work experience. While a degree may provide the foundation for understanding business, many business owners attest that working for someone else’s company gave them valuable experience that lead them to starting their own business.
Engage Qualified Counsel – Women executives also emphasized the value of engaging professional advisors. Seek advisors with related expertise during the different business life cycles.
Focus on People – A commitment to people was a common thread for the successful leaders interviewed by U.S. Trust. Each woman believed investing in company culture and employee training would best serve company growth and the bottom line. They extended this philosophy beyond internal relations and also focused on vendor, investor, and customer relationships.
Plan for the Future – As a business owner, it is even more important for you to have a will, health care proxy and financial power of attorney so your business can continue to operate if something happens to you. Create a succession plan and estate plan, and ensure you have adequate life insurance to cover estate taxes in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Additionally, it’s smart to have a business “playbook” to pass on to your emergency successor. This should detail financial contacts, vendor relationships, and legal documents, among other essentials.
Give Back – Leading women entrepreneurs recognize the importance of giving back. Many contribute to philanthropies, volunteer in the community, or mentor younger business owners. These actions may inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
With the proper planning and support, the dream of owning your own business can become a reality. The next generation of women entrepreneurs, as the generation before it, will continue to add immense value to the economy through job creation, innovative product offerings and philanthropic service.