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Women entrepreneurs are stuck in between the male world of business and a driving desire to express themselves by starting businesses that are true to their hearts. Without getting too deep into the more psychological motivations of women and their motivations, a cruel result of this difference is that business finance has traditionally been an all-male sport.
It has really been relatively recently that the funding needs of women have been recognized as different and have been catered to by some entities.
LaunchPad Café is the outgrowth of a business that started long ago by a man and a woman long before alternative funding was ever even “a thing” for women to consider.
The circumstances that exist for start-ups don’t vary much by gender. Start-ups have meager funding at the beginning of their venture. Start-ups have no track records to show to a bank. Start-ups have no income tax returns to show as the businesses haven’t started or only recently started.
Because of this, you would think that the funding options and the ease of funding would also be equivalent. But would you believe it if I told you that the level of discrimination, be it ever so subtle, is a complete game stopper for many well-qualified women?
While not overly relevant to the discussion that I want to have with you, the reasons for this discrimination are so varied that it would be virtually impossible to identify the top 3 reasons. The discrimination has been blamed on things like:
a. Women have an extra-sensitivity to failure and starting a new business is probably one of the riskiest things that most people will ever do. The fear of not being successful overcomes women while men need to be men and just shrug it off. To admit fear by a man is to show weakness to other macho men and therefore, it doesn’t happen much. A woman's ear of failure can be “felt” when asking for funding from an investor or a bank.
b. Starting a business in a male-dominated industry means that you must become “one of the boys” to be taken seriously. You can’t express feelings. You must be tough and focused. You must fight to become respected and hence to be taken seriously.
c. Women have been taught to make decisions by committee. Actually, most women talk to their group of close confidants in trying to make the best decisions possible. Men, on the other hand, see a group decision as something of a weakness. Men should be able to be firm and determinative. Tough, assertive, fast decision makers are some of the elements of a good male leader. Notice that there is no reference to calling your inner circle and getting the opinions of others before you jump.
d. Women are typically conservative and only ask for what they need in the area of fundraising. Men on the other hand, exaggerate their needs and investors get used to inflated requests and just start to lower these funding applications as a matter of course. Women in this scenario get less than they need to start their businesses, and as the result, have a higher failure rate than their male counterparts.
I could go on and on as we try to understand the differences. But why? We all know that women start out with a disadvantage in most areas of starting their businesses. And, this most certainly includes fundraising no matter how its done.
The entire world of alternate funding (hard money lending) has never really adapted to the reality of the number of women and their specific needs of those who need their services. Most alternative lenders are men and men feel most comfortable lending to other men. My opinion is that men are completely incapable of evaluating a loan application from a woman. Yes, collateral is collateral but some unmeasurable element of a loan decision for ethical lenders is whether the borrower is going to be successful or not.
Lenders don’t want to be paying their loans off by foreclosing on and selling collateral. They want their borrowers to be successful, and it is still too early in the development of female entrepreneurs for men to understand what to look for to predict success in their female loan applicants.
LaunchPad Café has specifically developed customized loan committees that consist of experienced businesswomen to evaluate the business loan applications of other women entrepreneurs. In order to be pro-active in this area, each decision will include our male loan evaluators such that they can learn how to distinguish women entrepreneurs who are headed for success from those that aren’t.
LaunchPad Café is out to become a leader in the area of women owned startup and growing business alternative funding.
Our plan is to develop our program to make the process for women equally as efficient (loan closing within a matter of days) as for men. And maybe even more efficient...who knows where this experiment will lead?
We are eager to have you watch us as we develop our business models. Please subscribe to our news releases on our home page.
We would like to welcome you to follow our creative and new processes for business funding and growth.
Stephen D. Replin, CEO
LaunchPad Café, Ltd.