Spotlight on Finance: Start a successful woman-owned business


By April Ulrich, Key4Women Chair, KeyBank

#AprilUlrich #Key4Women #KeyBank #SpotlightOnFinance #SpotlightNews


In recognition of Small Business Month and in celebration of the 17th Annual Key4Women Forum, I wanted to share some eye-opening statistics about women in business.

Today, 56 percent of the workforce is comprised of women—who hold 50 percent of management roles.

Women are opening 1,072 net new businesses every day, and women-owned businesses employ 9 million people and generate $1.6 trillion in revenue. In fact, if you combined all women-owned businesses in the U.S. and made them their own country, that country would have the fifth largest GDP…in the world!

Clearly, women in business have come far. However, women are still prone to making the same mistakes when starting and running a business that business owners have been making for centuries. And the number one mistake I see among women-owned startups is overestimating initial sales.
The problem with overestimating initial sales is it often leads to a shortfall in working and permanent capital.

For example, let’s consider a retail start-up. In order to fulfill sales, the retailer needs to have a stock of supplies. In most cases, this stock needs to be paid for prior to sale to a customer.

What happens when retail start-ups overestimate initial sales is they overstock, and capital needed to pay employees, rent, utilities and other expenses, including advertising to grow the business, is tied up in product that isn’t selling. It’s no wonder, then, that nearly 50 percent of businesses attribute their failure to a shortage of working capital.

Here are four tips to help you avoid this financial mistake.

  1. Understand your reason. Why are you starting your business? To fill a void in the market, change your lifestyle, make a difference? Six in 10 Key Private Bank advisors say that when business owners first become clients, few know whether the goal of their business is to support their lifestyle or to reinvest back into the company for long-term growth. Knowing the type of business you’re operating is not only the first step to determining how you define success, but it is also critical to understanding how business decisions can impact your wealth in retirement.
  2. Know your pitch. What is your value proposition? Being able to articulate why your product and service will matter to customers, and sharing it with as many people as possible before you open for business, will give you a sense of how well it resonates with people and if they are willing to spend money for it.
  3. Create a business plan. Business plans are important because they allow for educated projections of future performance. Also, understanding the market and your competitors is a great way to forecast your first three years of sales and expenses. The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and your local office of SCORE can provide guidance with research founded industry statistics to help with your business plan, especially with revenue projections.
  4. Build an advisory board. This one comes complements of Leah Busque, TaskRabbit founder and keynote speaker at the 2018 Key4Women Forum. Leah says tapping into your network to form a reliable group of advisors who can offer objective analysis and bring new skill sets where yours may be weak (technology, legal and financial are common areas) is critical. Start with who you know and trust as well as those with experience in your industry—make sure you have them sign confidentiality agreements. Organizations such as Chamber Women’s Business Council, Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) and Women’s Presidents’ Organization (WPO) can provide guidance and support.

Another thing to consider when starting your business is that good business doesn’t always mean a strong bottom line. Sometimes the most successful businesses go beyond the balance sheet and make having a broader impact on the community it serves a top priority.

In today’s world, consumers want to know that businesses as a whole are taking a stand. In fact, according to a global sustainability report by Nielsen, customers are 43 percent more likely to purchase a product from a company they know is committed to social value.

Being a socially responsible business will also add to your community’s vitality, improve customer loyalty and help drive employee recruitment and retention. According to Double the Donation, 79 percent of millennials said they consider corporate responsibility when deciding where to work, and 74 percent say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact at work.

At the end of the day, there are many factors that contribute to a business’s success or failure. Due diligence and thoughtful consideration can go a long way toward establishing a strong foundation for growth.

Also, remember this: while much is made of the number of startups that fail, many succeed. For women, who have doubled the number of businesses they have founded over the past three years, this is good news. And it’s good news for the economy, because according to First Round Capital, women business founders outperform men by 63 percent in terms of creating value for investors.

About the author: April Ulrich is Key4Women chair and vice president, Business Banking, for KeyBank in the Capital Region. She may be reached at 518-859-6645 or


Cloud Computing | Packaging Simplified | World is Your Market


Break the rules and make a little trouble this week …

“I hope that you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there.  And I also hope you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.” — Nora Ephron’s 1996 commencement address at Wellesley College

First things first!  Did you miss our WEGGinar™ earlier in the month with 3 top international trade finance experts?  Grab your cup of java or tea and listen to it here.  You don’t EVER want to be caught off guard with an overseas customer when he or she states:  “I need payment terms.”  This WEGGinar™ covers it all and then some.  By the way, I love the Q&A part of the session — very informative — where all the best kept secrets are unveiled :-).

Tip of the month.  Are you running an e-commerce business and need help with cutting-edge packaging?  Check out Lumi where packaging is simplified yet made to look luxurious.


What is cloud computing?  As an SME, how can you benefit from it?  Find out key growth lessons from more than 50 startup owners using cloud computing on July 11 at 11:00 a.m. Central Time on on “Intro to Cloud Computing and How It Can Benefit You,” presented by Jayger McGough Tomasino and Carly Kizorek, Technical Evangelists at IBM.  They will give you the scoop on cloud computing, convey how SMEs use it to grow, and even show a demo of IBM Watson services.

The WEGGinar™ is free of charge, thanks to the generous support of our sponsors: UPS, IBM, and BOA – go here to register:

WEGG’s Mission and Vision
WEGG’s mission is to educate women business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide on how to go global so they can run healthier businesses and create a new future for themselves, their families and their community.  Our vision is a world where every woman business owner has the opportunity and ability to take their business global wherever they may be located.

For more information on WEGG, Please contact

Laurel Delaney
Women Entrepreneurs Grow Global

Two Steps To Help You Become A More Confident Risk-Taker

By Randy H. Nelson 

When I am speaking to entrepreneurs or leadership teams, I always ask them the following question:

“What is the first word that comes to your mind when I say the word entrepreneur?” 95% of the time I get the same exact answer: Risk-taker.

When I go on to ask the audience how many of them are risk-takers, the percentages drop quickly—even amongst the entrepreneurs.

Then I ask another question: “Is a military jet pilot a risk-taker or not?”

How would you respond?

The audiences I speak to typically split on this answer. Some say yes and some say no. But then, if I add the word “controlled” to the equation, everyone invariably comes to the same conclusion. Everyone shifts to a yes.

Everyone agrees: a military jet pilot is indeed a controlled risk-taker. So how can entrepreneurial leaders use this information to become more comfortable and confident taking risks? And how can they learn to take smarter risks?

To continue reading, please visit



Five Courageous Business Moves To Help Your Company Survive

By Al Zdenek

Do you have the guts and the courage to have your business succeed? The government doubts it.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over 50% of small businesses fail within their first year of operation. 95% fail within the first five years. That is 19 out of every 20 small businesses in the country. If that sounds outrageous, that’s because it is!

The ugly truth is, many businesses on the failure side of these statistics could avoid this fate if the entrepreneurs who started them had the courage to make the strategic business moves necessary to ensure a higher probability of survival.

There are many reasons why businesses fail, to be sure. But in my experience working with business owners, I’ve found there are five top actions any entrepreneur can take to improve their fortunes when the outlook is dim. The common ingredient to all five? Courage.

  1. Know when to…

Visit to read the full article.


Here’s Why British Firms Say Their Boards Lack Women. Prepare to Cringe.

by Amie Tsang, The New York Times

LONDON — “We have one woman already on the board, so we are done — it is someone else’s turn.”

“All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up.”

“Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board.”

Those were just a few of the worst explanations given to a British review investigating the lack of women on corporate boards in the country, the latest effort by British government officials to shame companies into addressing workplace gender disparities.

Read more here.

Follow Amie Tsang on Twitter: @amietsang.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page B3 of the New York edition with the headline: Here’s Why British Firms Say Their Boards Lack Women. Prepare to Cringe.. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Blockchain Technology – The Future of Business. What Should Your Lawyer Know?

According to Joshi,[1] “Blockchain is a technology that focuses on increasing transparency and introducing decentralization that will allow the technology to enable everyone on the network to view information stored on ledgers.”

Blockchain’s cryptography feature is often misunderstood. This means that storing information on a Blockchain network is secure and not anonymous. The Ledger is un-editable and therefore the records stored in a Blockchain unalterable. From a legal perspective to various business functions, this is both vital and positive.

According to Joshi[2] and McKenna[3], Blockchain can address common business issues more efficiently in the following ways:

  1. By eliminating failure to comply with contractual obligations. As Entrepreneurs we have often faced the eventuality where parties default in terms of payment or some other obligation, this happens even when we have the best Agreement in place. Besides creating a crucial and unalterable record, the technology records activity in real time and thereby enables the other party to make sound commercial decisions quicker than we were able to do prior.
  2. By tracking stock. It is crucial in manufacturing that products reach the Distributors and End Retailers on time. However, stock is often lost or misplaced for extended periods of time, which results in losses for Manufacturers. Here, again the application of Blockchain technology could address the issue of tracking he production of stock as well as its dispatch, the logistics and end destination.
  3. By increasing transparency-in web- based businesses the application of Blockchain technology increases transparency, keeps track of the incoming and outgoing products and makes management thereof more efficient.

Moreover according to McKenna,[4] some Industries have already seen the impact of Blockchain, such as:

“Entertainment — Founded by a singer-songwriter, Ujo Music tracks musician royalties as well as allowing them to create evidence of ownership of their work.

Insurance — AIG is piloting a smart contract system to oversee the creation of complex policies requiring international cooperation.

Recruitment — Blockchain-based CVs have now been developed which will streamline the selection process by verifying candidates’ qualifications and relevant experience.”

For the Legal Profession this is an interesting time where Practitioners will have to understand the technology to the required degree in order to advise Clients on the content and processes they intend to run on a Blockchain Network. Many aspects that have traditionally been time-consuming to investigate and accurately identify in order to remedy, will be addressed by the technology.

It is therefore vital that the manner in which this is implemented is done in compliance with the relevant regulations and latest best practices.

Nicolene Schoeman-Louw, SchoemanLaw Inc, Cape Town, South Africa

Email :



Twitter: @NicoleneSL_Att and SchoemanLaw_Att


[1] : accessed 30 April 2018

[2] : accessed 30 April 2018

[3] : accessed 30 April 2018

[4] : accessed 30 April 2018

CWDI Report Shows Women Hold 21.4% of Board Positions on 200 Largest Companies Globally

For the first time since Corporate Women Directors International (CWDI), the research arm of the Global Summit of Women, began examining the composition of the Boards of Directors of companies in the Fortune Global 200 listing in 2004, the percentage of women directors crossed the 20% line in new research presented at the 2018 Summit in Sydney.  The current percentage of 21.4% doubles the percentage of women directors of these global powerhouses which stood at 10.4% in 2004.

blog graph

The increase has largely been driven by European companies in the listing whose percentage of women on boards has increased from 9.1% in 2004 to 32.1% at the start of 2018.  The surge of women directors in Europe has been due to national initiatives to accelerate women’s access to board positions, primarily through quotas.  Leading the way in Europe and globally are France and Italy, both of whom have legislative quotas which moved rapidly the numbers of women appointed to board seats.  From 2004 to the present, women on boards of French companies in the Fortune Global 200 have increased from 7.2% to 43.4%, while women holding board seats of Italian companies have increased from 1.8% to 34.8%.

Lagging behind Europe are the U.S. and other countries in the Americas. Since 2004, the percentage of women board directors on the American continent has increased only 0.5% per year, from 17% in 2004 to 24.5% in 2018.  Further behind Europe, but having shown some significant increases in certain countries, is the Asia-Pacific region. While the current percentage in the region is only 7.6%, this represents a major jump from its percentage in 2004 when it was a paltry 0.9%.

The report makes the case for quotas and other national initiatives to move the needle.  “The ‘supply’ of board-ready women has been there for some time, but what quotas do is force the demand from companies within a specified timeline,” said CWDI Chair Irene Natividad.  “That’s why they are effective.”

For more key findings from the CWDI report, click here.                                               
For a Wall Street Journal news article on the CWDI Report, click here.