By Chris Olsen
My local chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) recently held its annual awards event honoring women who are crushing it as small business owners. The event also celebrated a law that passed 30 years ago this month—the Women’s Business Ownership Act (H.R. 5050)—that eliminated state laws requiring a male consigner on a women’s business loan.
Many in attendance at the event were shocked to learn that just three decades ago, women did not have access to business funding without the support of a man. Others were surprised to hear current data regarding the obstacles female entrepreneurs continue to face.
The Reality for Women Business Owners
As a former marketing director, instructor and advisor at a nonprofit economic development agency for women, I was well aware the odds were stacked against female founders. I’d read hundreds of reports and articles showing women received less than 16 percent of all small business loans and 10 percent of venture capital. And women who did secure funding typically received less capital and less favorable terms, such as higher interest rates.
I was eager to learn why women weren’t getting what they needed. And as I combed through the research, I connected the dots. One of the primary reasons female founders were being denied critical business resources was the inability to effectively communicate their purpose to potential investors, partners and supporters.
I’d also witnessed this struggle firsthand at the agency, from dozens of fledgling founders who participated in an intensive multi-part program for launching a business. On the last day, as they practiced pitching their ideas to a panel of investors, those self-confident, well-spoken women we unable to clearly and confidently convey their purpose as they stood at the front of the room.
Disrupting the Status Quo
My Founder Story uses a storytelling platform to support and empower female business founders in discovering and sharing their WHY. The reason for this focus is simple: Fully embracing your purpose and communicating it with conviction provides you with a competitive advantage from the get-go. When a woman entrepreneur is confident in how she describes her purpose, her business, and the impact she’s making or intends to make, others have confidence in that woman and her purpose as well.
Once you know your WHY, our coaches guide founders like you through communicating it in a Whyography. This is not a basic business bio. In fact, it is far from it. It’s a powerful short story designed to articulate and elevate your purpose. The distinction is important. Rather than a list of jobs and accomplishments, we use the principles of storytelling to illustrate each woman’s unique journey through life and work that has led to the development of her enterprise.
Girl, Get Your Money
A Whyography is an extremely valuable tool for making connections with others who relate to your experiences and are aligned with your values. But there’s more to it than that. This unique approach to telling your founder story sets you up for better business outcomes across the board—with employees, customers and shareholders.
Data on values-based businesses shows that employees are more engaged, more satisfied and more likely to stick around. Nearly 90 percent of consumers believe purpose-driven companies deliver the highest-quality products and services, and three-quarters would recommend a company like yours. To top it off, values-based companies yield 10 times greater return on investment for shareholders.
We want every woman to know: Your story is important, and you are making a difference. But the ultimate goal of My Founder Story is to establish an empowered, confident community of women who courageously share their story with the world, opening the door to resources and opportunities in abundance.
About the author: Chris Olsen is a radio veteran turned communications consultant, educator and author of “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose”. Through her work as a consultant partnering with startups, Chris realized her WHY—to support women-owned businesses in confidently communicating their purpose and impact, setting them up for entrepreneurial success. She created My Founder Story and Publish Her as platforms for doing so.