It’s a heady time in the women’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, with so many women stepping up to create the kind of future we want to live in. Not only does the number of women entrepreneurs continue to grow, we have an increasing pool of women investors, mentors, incubators, and support organizations. However, things are not perfect in this growing community. We women have some criticisms of each other.
For example, some women’s angel investing groups are regularly criticized for conducting due diligence that is overly onerous for entrepreneurs. This is seen as a problem because entrepreneurs are busy, and it’s in everyone’s best interest that they focus on building their business. Angel investing is inherently risky, and these women angels are risk-averse, the story goes.
First, I want to say that every angel group has its own style of making investment decisions. There is no consensus about how much due diligence is the right amount. We could chalk these criticisms up to style differences, although research shows that women are generally more careful investors.
I am not so interested in taking sides on this particular debate about how much due diligence is the right amount. Rather, I am interested in the opportunity for a potentially transformational, albeit challenging, conversation among women.
At this time in history, women are building a completely new entrepreneurial ecosystem. In the past, we have invested a lot of our life energy in helping the dominant business environment take advantage of our talents, and seen very little openness to change. This is one reason many women are stepping out sideways, creating their own businesses. It is within our power to make sure that we can all thrive within this new business culture that we are constructing from the ground up. In order for that to happen, we need to be mindful, introspective, and honest.
As women, many of our values and practices are an improvement over the dominant entrepreneurial ecosystem and business culture. And, some of our ingrained modes of operating may not be serving our higher purposes. Figuring out which is which is the challenge. But women are the experts on our own psychology, and we can tap each other’s wisdom to sort out the transformational from the habitual.
I had the delightful opportunity to speak recently with Denise Brosseau, CEO of the Thought Leadership Lab. Denise has spent decades building women’s entrepreneurial ecosystems by founding support organizations for women entrepreneurs, including Springboard, Watermark, and Invent Your Future Enterprises. Her commitment to women is unsurpassed. I appreciated her insight when she said, “We must start with a conversation about cultural norms around women and money and risk. From there, we can determine sensible practices.”
This is the work. These conversations are the heady opportunity. Let’s create an entrepreneurial ecosystem optimized for everyone’s success. To do that, we must not shy away from challenging each other to grow. We must embrace all of our perspectives, and use them to create a more inclusive and supportive business culture.
With all this in mind, I would like to convene a conversation about women’s psychology around money and risk. I envision that we would sit in a circle (in person or online) and learn from each other about the money and risk attitudes that drive our actions within the women’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. If you would like to participate in this gathering, or help me organize it, please contact me or leave a comment.
Let’s share our deep wisdom with each other and have a challenging, transformational conversation.