Carolyn Rodz, founder and CEO at Hello Alice
Today, on average, a woman working full time earns 82 cents for every dollar a man working full time earns, according to Women Institute for Policy Research. The revenue gap between the genders is far wider for entrepreneurs. On average, a women-owned employer firm generates 47 cents for every dollar a male-owned business makes, according to the 2016 Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs conducted by the Census. The average woman-owned employer firm earns $1.3 million and the man’s $2.7 million. Men’s revenues are more than two times greater than women’s.
There are many reasons why women-owned employer firms are smaller than their male counterparts. Lack of access to financial capital tops the list. Still, two other types of capital contribute to the discrepancy, too, and get far less attention: social and human capital. Both are a form of capital that can generate revenue and improve a company’s overall performance. Both are offered on the Her Ideas: Start Something Priceless Community, a Mastercard initiative offered on Hello Alice. Alice is a predictive technology platform that, no matter your stage of business or skill set, helps you find the answers, resources, and support you need. “We provide women entrepreneurs with the next best step for their businesses [to grow],” said Carolyn Rodz, founder and CEO at Alice.
Why a community just for women? Research finds that similarity breeds connection. Gender is certainly one of the ways people relate to each other. The more significant challenges women face in the business world bond them to each other and make them want to help each other. It can be beneficial to get this perspective, commented Cheryl Guerin, executive vice president, North America Marketing and Communications at Mastercard.
One of the biggest hurdles women face is overcoming self-doubt. It helps to hear how other women, just like you have put the puzzle pieces together. Seeing women just like you at the helm of a successful business inspires you to become that, too.
Having social capital saves time and money, and helps entrepreneurs avoid pitfalls. “Whom you know” is just as important as “what you know.” The people around entrepreneurs — role models, mentors/advisors, professionals, experts, peers/colleagues — shorten the path to information, resources, opportunities, and connections that can lead to success. This is a form of capital that can generate revenue and improve a company’s overall performance.
To be as successful as the boys, you don’t have to grow a pair. But you do have to do something — build your network. Entrepreneurs with more extensive and more diverse networks tend to grow bigger companies, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor: 2010 Women’s Report. Entrepreneurs’ networks need to include advisers such as accountants, lawyers, and experts. The bigger and more diverse your network, the more likely your company will be a success. Nearly half — 48% — of women entrepreneurs think creating mentorship programs will be helpful in their advancement, according to Small Business Owners (who also happen to be women), a white paper commissioned by Mastercard.
The Her Ideas Community is a shortcut to building that network. Alice offers Ask Me Anything sessions with Mastercard Women’s Business Advisory Council. Experts include its employees, partners, and influencers, commented Guerin. Rodz is a member. The sessions can take the form of a one-hour video or, in some cases, you can post questions to mentors on the Alice site and get answers.
Mastercard Women’s Business Advisory Council
Peer support is an under-recognized and under-appreciated resource for women entrepreneurs. Based on the milestones the entrepreneur is aiming for, Alice will match you with women who have just completed or are about to achieve them. “We’re always connecting women,” said Rodz. “We’re building communities of women.” It’s great when those women are in the same geographic area and can recommend local resources to each other. However, in some cases, what you need to achieve may make you a rarity in your locale. For example, you may want to raise a Series A round and are located outside the venture capital hubs of San Francisco, New York, and Boston. Connecting with founders and mentors across the country is a better fit for you. Alice will make those introductions.
Human capital is the education, experience, and skills entrepreneurs have that impact a company’s performance. It increases not only the profitability of firms but also their strength, sustainability, and longevity. It also reduces the risk of failure and increases the confidence of entrepreneurs.
Alice offers Sprints that are two- or three-week-long classes on a specific topic, such as building your strategic plan or hiring your team. There are readings, exercises, and connections to make with peers and mentors on the subject. Regular emails from Alice keep you inspired and accountable. Alice also provides step-by-step guides for significant milestones, such as building a minimum viable product (MVP) or becoming a certified women-owned business.
Having competence drives confidence: when women have a particular skill or ability, confidence increases.
Importantly, support is available 24/7 365 days a year. Often, because they are the primary family caregivers and household managers, women have more demands on their time. They still do most of the household chores and have most of the caregiving responsibilities for children and elderly parents. Being able to go online when it is convenient for them is vitally important. “We see two peak usage times,” said Roz. “The first is around midday and the second around 8:30 pm or 9 pm.” While Alice serves all entrepreneurs, it’s women who are the most engaged on the platform, most likely to make connections and collaborate.
It is worth pointing out that women always say they need more information, mentors, role models, and peer support. However, they also need to appreciate their own value and know how much power they actually have in their hands. They need to value their potential to succeed rather than only the successes they’ve had.
What questions do you have that Alice can answer?