Our Sacred Acres - Home of the Office Mystic and other Misfits

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Business Mentors, Collaborators, and Angels - Let's Do This Dream!

From the Kauffman Foundation's Women in Entrepreneurship news bulletin, ""Sources of Economic Hope: Women's Entrepreneurship," [was] released today to coincide with Women's Entrepreneurship Day [...and] suggests that accelerating female entrepreneurship could have the same positive effect on the U.S. economy that the large-scale entry of women into the labor force had during the 20th century."   

Stories From the Forties

I may need to do more research before I can speak to just what effect that had, however the inference received is that it revitalized the national economy.  As I understand it, the gals flooded the workplace, and have continued to increase in the employment rolls... we're up to about 1/3 now as business owners, even.  It's from that Founders segment, the emergent edge of purposeful livelihood which has captured my attention, where this article and other works have entered my field of sight lately, hmm.

So as I sit here writing this blog instead of working on my business plan, project programming, media and promotions (which are woefully behind the schedule I anticipated), my mind wanders through the stuckness and tight spots that have me feeling anxious about founding and cultivating this non-profit enterprise.  You see, I kind of just struck out and followed the dream, believing in the possibilities, studying the practicalities, intuiting the necessities, and, well, just doing it.  

When this article came to my attention, besides elation at something relevant to distract me from the tedium of business documentation, I also felt relief to know that someone out there is actually studying these trends and producing reports to guide us in these crucial economic times.  I've come to realize in these last few months that there is A LOT I don't know about starting a business!  And, that I can pay all the money to all the people that do know, but that doesn't get me the education I need.  


Gotta say, I'm happy to have the abundance of resources that are available, for free, through the work of amazing founders that have gone before us.  Sometimes I sign up for newsletters, not really knowing how important they will be to me later and the Kauffman Foundation has definitely proved itself to be a valuable resource in my self-education endeavors, from research papers like this to the Entrepreneurship.org site and especially the well-presented, and free, content at their Founders School.

These days, women continue to be underrepresented in entrepreneurship, especially in what's termed as 'high-growth entrepreneurship'.  I'm not digging into what criteria defines high-growth firms but my extrapolation is that it has to do with creating jobs.  

Being a relatively self-aware human, I notice myself having some discomfort with the term 'creating jobs'; likely because it has an air of 'things for people to do to make money' rather than 'purposeful livelihoods people do to be of service'.  It may well be my own programming rearing up to relate a job to an automaton's work product, like a 'print job', or 'boy do I have a job for you!'.  

And, having said that I relinquish my bias and surrender to the fact that a job can be in right relation! Now, how can growing our own food be sustainable.....

Before going more into any statistics about women in business, women business owners, founders etc., I want to highlight what I found most useful about this report.  It identified the key differentiators between entrepreneurial challenges in general, and entrepreneurial challenges specific to women founders.

And here are the top 3!

  • Women lack role models who would motivate them to start companies. Because mentorship is important for successful entrepreneurs, this finding could contribute to the low share of women in growth entrepreneurship.
  • Female entrepreneurs say that lessons learned from failures are a greater factor in their success than lessons from successes are. Layering these survey findings with previous studies about how entrepreneurs of both genders experience failure may show that women are more likely to regroup and apply knowledge gained from failures to future ventures.
  • Women experience a greater financing gap than men do. Nearly 80 percent of the women in the study used personal savings as their top funding source, even though 31 percent of them had angel investors and 14 percent had venture capital funding.

Apparently, there are not a lot of us women taking the leap at all, we really don't want to be anyone's boss, most of us spend our own money, learn from our failures, regroup, and seek out motivational mentorship from successful female entrepreneurs.

I mentioned before that women-owned businesses account for about one-third of businesses (all types, in the US).  Here's the part that felt like what they call a 'kicker': 

  •  Among employer firms, women-owned businesses are only about 16 percent of the total, and their share of revenues and employees are in the single digits. 
  • Among high-growth firms, women usually account for less than 10 percent of founders in any given sample.

I've learned some pretty big lessons these last few years, and I hesitate to call anything a failure because I've intentionally set out to LEARN by DOING, and in this, I have SUCCEEDED!

Working through the challenges of a gift economy, of a non-profit startup, of growing land-based community, and developing a communication platform for sharing skills, services, and stuff in a way that facilitates healthy relationships has been a grand adventure and I love the people, places and projects that I've connected through this work.

WHATS NEXT?  How do I apply my new knowledge, experience and power to the ventures of the future?  I've recognized that it is time for some changes to the plan and one of the main changes is to seek both mentors, and co-founders, for Our Sacred Acres.

We aren't meant to do this alone, and I would like to work with people who have also been playing in the realms of sustainable community enterprise.


I am committing to seek out and engage with seasoned collaborators, angel sponsors, venture capitalists, and business mentor networks.

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