How To Thrive as a Female Founder in a Male-Dominated World
In today’s “Financially Savvy Female” column, we chat with Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, founder and CEO of EnrichHER, a financial technology platform that matches revenue-generating companies led by women and founders of color to individual and institutional sources of funding. Novellus is one of very few Black women founders who has raised more than $1 million in venture capital, and she is passionate about empowering other female entrepreneurs. Here, she shares her advice for women founders to obtain capital, overcome adversity and ultimately, to succeed in their pursuits.
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What tips do you have for female founders who are seeking investment capital?
Do your research. Make sure the VCs you’re soliciting have a history of investing in your industry or with owners who have a similar background as you so they at least have some familiarity with your company’s mission. Pitch them even if they don’t, but understand that you may face philosophical differences in strategy and operations down the line.
Have your materials together. Your pitch deck, business plan, financial projections/valuation, demo, marketing assets, etc. should be finalized prior to fundraising.
Finally, know that the odds are not in your favor, but don’t take it personally. Women-led startups only received 2.3% of venture capital funding in 2020. That number drops below 1% when it comes to women of color. A lot of us are facing the same uphill battle when it comes to funding our businesses, but the blood, sweat and tears are worth it.
What can women do to stand out and assure potential investors that they are worth investing in?
Find something you have in common with the investor and relate to them. A search on Google or LinkedIn can reveal a shared alma mater, a unique hobby or a passion for a certain cause. Connecting with the investor on a social level creates intrigue and opens up more pathways for dialogue.
What advice would you give to female founders who face adversity due to their gender?
Keep going. We need you here. We need you to keep disrupting the status quo. If we allow the business and financial sector to continue to be represented by the same group of people, nothing will change. As more New Majority founders secure a larger role in our economy, we will be able to build a society that is more balanced and reflective of our needs, desires and aspirations. There will be more inclusive job growth, as well as products and services that better reflect the input of the people they serve.
We often get frustrated and want to give up the fight, not realizing that the same power structure you encountered as a business owner will be in place as an employee. There’s adversity on both ends of the spectrum, but as a business owner, you’re able to take a stand and be in charge of your own economic power.
What does it take to succeed as a female entrepreneur in today’s competitive landscape?
Mindfulness. I practice mindful finance, which blends yoga and meditation with intentional financial planning. It’s a philosophy I call “The Wealthy Yogi,” which allows me to use my internal compass to navigate through life. There are so many moving parts to running a business and so many variables that are out of our control. Mindfulness gives me the faith that I will achieve my goals and helps me weather any setbacks that come my way.
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A village. If you don’t have a carefully curated circle of supporters that you trust, find one now! I suggest an intimate mix of personal friends, fellow colleagues, mentors, and health and wellness professionals. As a business owner, every area of your life will be tested. It’s affirming to have a support system that’s available to you when you need it.
The ability to put one foot in front of the other. I can’t stress enough how important it is to just keep going. But make sure you’re learning from each challenge. Sometimes, perseverance can mean acknowledging what each experience is meant to teach you and allowing that lesson to inform your next move.
GOBankingRates wants to empower women to take control of their finances. According to the latest stats, women hold $72 billion in private wealth — but fewer women than men consider themselves to be in “good” or “excellent” financial shape. Women are less likely to be investing and are more likely to have debt, and women are still being paid less than men overall. Our “Financially Savvy Female” column will explore the reasons behind these inequities and provide solutions to change them. We believe financial equality begins with financial literacy, so we’re providing tools and tips for women, by women to take control of their money and help them live a richer life.
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