Any dedicated comic-book fan knows Gotham City is home to the one-and-only Caped Crusader, Batman. But did you know Batman co-creator Bill Finger initially came up with names like Civic City and Capital City before ultimately settling on the locale Gotham City? The fictional name was purposeful: It allowed readers and viewers to imagine themselves in that location, as that character. While I’m no superhero fan, I’m struck by this idea of parallels. In the real world, if we really take the time to listen to another woman’s story, we will undoubtedly find commonalities. We’re more alike than we think.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 60 Percent
If you do take some time to learn about what’s going on in other women’s lives, you’ll likely discover that women are pretty dang ambitious and are opening and growing businesses every day. In fact, according to one recent Bank of America report, 60 percent of female small-business owners say they expect to grow their businesses during the next five years, compared with only 52 percent of male small-business owners. From cupcake bakers and retail mavens to tech-startup go-getters and PR wizards, female entrepreneurs are hanging out their shingles and cornering the market on business optimism.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Joanne Wilson, Founder of Gotham Gal Ventures and Co-founder of the WeFestival
Today’s Woman to Watch, Joanne Wilson, a New York City-based high achiever, is an angel investor, influential blogger, business podcaster and the founder of Gotham Gal Ventures, an online outlet where she shares the remarkable stories of countless female entrepreneurs.
An all-around biz wiz, Joanne started her career in an industry so many of us do: retail. During the 1990s, she worked on the media side of the tech industry, and later sat on numerous boards of directors and chaired a few nonprofits. Then, about a decade ago, Joanne made her first angel investment—and it was life-changing. She had finally found her calling.
Since then, Joanne has invested in nearly 100 companies, putting an emphasis on female entrepreneurs, who she says tend to be more tenacious, thorough and inquisitive. Despite the growing prevalence of women business owners, it’s safe to say the funding sphere is still quite the boys’ club. Indeed, Joanne says every woman she has funded has stories of the subtle sexism they’ve faced, like innuendos and dismissiveness, and even more direct sexism, like flat-out telling women they won’t invest in them if they have kids.
For women entrepreneurs, that’s a tough pill to swallow. But by being more vocal about such wrongdoings, Joanne hopes women and minorities in business will increasingly gain the respect they deserve. The wheels are already turning. Joanne believes that as female-led businesses go public, become successful or exit at high valuations, the power will continue to shift and the fallout for those misbehaving jerks will be swift.
In her endless effort to support women in business, Joanne also founded the Women’s Entrepreneur Festival, or WeFestival, which brings female entrepreneurs together to connect, be heard, and support and inspire each other to be impactful leaders and propel their businesses forward.
Here’s a great tip Joanne has for women in search of business funding: If a potential funder isn’t giving your pitch the time of day, walk out. It’s that simple. Instead, search for investors who are excited about the potential of your ideas. After all, as Joanne says, “There should be respect on both sides of the table.”
QUITE THE QUOTE
Ladies, when you’re out saving the world, don’t forget to help other women get a leg up too. As Gail Blanke, the CEO of Lifedesigns, which works to empower women worldwide, said:
“Don’t just stand for the success of other women; insist on it.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.