How Can We Close the Gender Gap in Company Revenue?

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One day while I was getting lost in my interweb research (as per usual), I came across an interesting page on the SBA website. They had conducted research and found that there was a giant gap in the amount of revenue that female business owners made compared to men. They gave multiple reasons, but one of the largest they attributed to this revenue inequality was something that has continued to stick with me.

Women tend to start businesses in industries they are familiar with, unfortunately for most women that means industries that are highly saturated. This poses various problems. First, in a saturated market it's hard to compete, so your ability to bring in revenue requires more work. Second, because these industries women are choosing are saturated, they are less likely to receive funding or loans from investors or banks who know that the women will not be able to generate the necessary revenue to qualify. These industries include clothing, jewelry, beauty, residential cleaning, and self-help or coaching. You’ve probably heard countless times that you’re supposed to ask yourself what you’re passionate about and do that, then the money will flow. But in these cases, if we're strictly talking about closing the gender gap, a woman's passions don't necessary make for a lucrative business model.

If you asked, I’m pretty sure 80% of women would tell you they’re passionate about clothes, heck me included! But, that doesn’t mean I want to go into business in the fashion industry. If you’re like me, who got tired of playing it safe then this article is for you. Over the past year I have come to see that just following your passion might not necessarily bring you the success you were hoping for. But, it is very easy to take what we’re passionate about and turn that into something we can monetize, OR find our passions in the unknown.

Here are two ways women can close the gender gap in business revenue.

Two Ways Women Can Close the Business Revenue Gender Gap

You've got to be forward-thinking to stay ahead of the game. 

                                                                                 - Janna Sampson                         

1)    Maintaining their role in the female-dominated industries they’ve chosen but tackling problems progressively, determining how they can innovate their chosen field.

2)    Choosing to jump into industries that they’ve never explored before (most will be male dominated).

Now, I’m not discouraging you from starting your own clothing line, or telling you to quit being a social media marketer to go start a commercial construction company, so put the hard hat down!

What I am telling you is to think progressively.

If you’ve started a business in a female dominated industry – what is the next step for that industry overall? Think about how it is going to be 5, 10, and 15 years down the road. Now imagine yourself doing what you do THEN. How have things changed? What are people like? What does the culture of that industry feel like? Just giving this consistent thought will start your mind down a path of inspiration and innovation you might never have believed existed. Human beings were designed to innovate, it is in our genes to constantly progress. Some people have just never taken the time to use that power.

I’ll give you an example of a woman who thought ahead and created an empire out of a one of THE MOST completely oversaturated industries a woman could choose to start in – fashion.

The President and co-founder of rewardStyle, Amber Venz Box, started her career in the fashion industry. In fact, she started her own jewelry collection in college, the early give-away of her entrepreneurial spirit. Fulfilling various roles within the fashion markets, she ended up starting her own fashion blog. As some of you may know, fashion blogging has become an entire industry of its own, transforming the face of social media within a short 5-year span. As an amazing example of progressiveness, Amber Venz Box devised an ‘out of the box’ pun intended application and affiliate marketing platform that didn’t exist before.

As she watched the then-present state of content distribution for fashion, she thought about the future as well. How frustrating it was going to be for all these fashion bloggers and brand stylists to get the information they need to the people that follow them.

And she didn’t stop there, she thought about the client side of things. She saw the future and how unsustainable it was for a client to keep following a fashion blogger they loved if they couldn’t find the information to those looks as efficiently as they needed to.

And then she thought about the brands! Where would they be 5 years from now if they were still advertising in magazines while the trends shifted to online shopping? And by looking at every angle, seeing the present frustration and knowing that the frustration would only build, she built an empire.

In the three years following her launch, Amber built a network of over 4,000 retailers and 14,000 publishers using their affiliate system

Starting Companies in Traditionally Male Dominated Industries

Now, my second thought is geared towards women who want to be different, who are open to constantly learning new things, and those willing to take larger risks than most people would. It involves the types of personalities who can be thrown into anything and adapt through experiential learning. Starting a company in an industry not typically run by women takes courage. Some examples of these industries include

  • Finance
  • Technology
  • Industrial
  • Construction
  • Automotive
  • Engineering

The list could literally go on, and thanks to my venti triple expresso latte I definitely have the stamina to but I won’t do that to you because we’ve both got some work to get back to!

I am going to be completely honest here. When I first got into business it was out of desperation. Yup, I had a B.S. in Biology and during my gap year I could wash glasses in a lab for $11 dollars an hour or I could pour drinks into a glass at a bar for $40 dollars an hour. You probably know which one I chose. That B.S. was a $45,000 dollar load of B.S. because without continuing my education there wasn’t much I could do without continuing my education.

After I realized I didn’t want to go to medical school I needed to figure out my next move. Long story short I wanted to find an industry that didn’t require me to go back to school, didn’t require any exams, and was something that I could teach myself or learn in an internship. What’s funny is, I never thought to myself, “you could launch an app, you could find a couple hundred thousand dollars in funding, you could do something in tech or science”.

So, I sat down and for 7 months I taught myself everything about social media marketing, which was JUST becoming a thing… I remember reading articles like, “How to Convince a Business that They Need Social Media” or “How to Prove the ROI of Social Media to Clients”. Yea, crazy to think that now! I consumed every blog article, took Udemy courses, literally watched Hubspot become the massive marketing giant it is today, followed social media marketers from all over the world, taught myself how to design websites with Squarespace, and started working with nonprofits to gain experience.

I chose a majorly female dominated industry – marketing! And I was up against some big agencies in my city, and lots of online marketing professionals so my only clients were very small local businesses and non-profits.

It wasn’t until one of my clients and I had a conversation that led to the concept of Matago. That client is now the other founding member and principal investor. It’s sad for me to realize that it was then, and only then, when a man told me I was capable of doing it, did it become something I truly believed I could do. I almost politely declined (I had no formal education in business after all). But the funny thing was, neither does he! Yet he built a million-dollar telecommunications contract business, and had the confidence to believe he could without a business or law degree! I wonder how many women keep themselves in a box because they believe they don't have what it takes?

Obviously, I couldn’t have launched an app straight out of college, I needed those couple of years of learning business and marketing in order to do what I am capable of now. But a part of me wonders how long I would have gone on being a small marketing consultant, thinking that it was all I was capable of. Or if I would have grown it to be a local agency employing a few people. Not once did I believe the option of “Tech Startup Founder” was available to me.

The point of this entire article is this,

YOU. CAN. LITERALLY. DO. ANYTHING. YOU WANT.

Repeat that, you have the FREEDOM to do what you want, including launching a tech startup from your little studio apartment.

Together we can close the gender gap, by empowering each other to never settle for what we think we are capable of. We can increase the amount of revenue in every female founded company with progressive thinking and supportive behavior.

It is only when we recognize as a gender that we often limit our own selves in these manners, will we be able to truly break through all the barriers that keep us from reaching our full potential.