What Women-Led Start Ups Do That Every Business Could Learn From is Creative Collaboration.
What we hear about women-led start up ventures, far too often, are the dismal funding statistics - female founders got roughly 2% of venture capital in 2017.
What we don’t hear enough about is this - Despite these staggering funding gaps, or perhaps in spite of them, women led ventures continue to outperform their male counterparts in just about every metric.
Female owned firms generate higher revenues than their male counterparts and they create more jobs. Women executives significantly improve start-up company performance. Women are known to be more effective in senior leadership roles. Women have a higher appetite for growth.
Living in a such a dismal funding landscape women entrepreneurs have had to become fiercely savvy in creating and building businesses. Women have long understood that access to cash is a struggle, so those embarking on start-up journeys know from the get go that they have to build a healthy and sustainable foundation for their businesses if they are to survive. They have to be hungrier, smarter, streamlined, efficient, and practical.
After endless years of institutional bias, it’s generationally ingrained in women to do so.
Now this is not to suggest that the institution bias against women in entrepreneurship, or in any other financial or social realm, has in any way benefitted women. Let’s be clear. It has not. But it does seem, at a minimum, it’s about time we acknowledge, take note, and learn from these female founders.
And what they are doing with deft and acuity is collaborating.
You don’t need to look too far to see how women entrepreneurs are building, shaping and creating spaces and frameworks for community and collaboration. Women supporting women is the strength of women’s entrepreneurship and crux of keeping their operations lean and successful.
Take for example, the explosion of women’s co-working. Seattle-based The Riveter offers coworking ‘built for women’ and now has multiple locations in Seattle and in LA with plans to open in 6 other cities across the nation including Austin, Atlanta, Portland, Dallas, Denver, and Minneapolis. Similarly expanding, New York based The Wing provides a social club for women, including coworking, and states its mission as the advancement of women through community.
Online communities like THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™ are focusing on the growing freelance economy and aggregating a too often fragmented group of women freelancers and consultants, into an online collective of independent professionals. THE JILLS, as their members are dubbed, provide diverse services to businesses of every scale from solos and start-ups to small businesses and corporate giants. They aim to create a ‘sisterhood for solos’ and tout the merits for women to work as independents and reinforce that this should not equate to working alone.
The newly founded, Madison based, DirectorHERy seeks to connect women-owned businesses with consumers who want to see them prosper through their online directory. And SheEO is tackling the female funding gap, by mobilizing women to build communities to support and fund women entrepreneurs through their model of ‘radical generosity’.
Women want to see women succeed. They know there are droves of amazingly talented women, like themselves, who are eager to work and create, having found very little of what they need or want in traditional workplace settings. They’re their friends, and neighbors, they meet at the gym, at playgroups and book clubs and more recently they’re finding each other through women based co-working spaces and digital community-based platforms.
They are building each other up and encouraging and designing a future of work that works for women. They know the critical importance of developing collaborative, reciprocal relationships within their communities to build their knowledge, their skills, and their teams. They are using collaboration to build businesses and build wealth. They are modeling and leading a new economy - the future of work.
For women led ventures, collaboration is winning over competition and building a strong ecosystem for women entrepreneurs to continue to grow and thrive.
If any of us is to find our path in the new economy, it’s about time we start to look at the women who are leading the way for us, and figure out how we might catch up.