Business Trend in the Making: Is “Conscious Capitalism” The Next Big Thing for Female Business Owners?

March 6, 2013  |  

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Although more women are becoming business owners, the funding is not always forthcoming. According to the information we received on behalf of Startup California, a partnership that supports entrepreneurs and job creation in the region, women only receive “5% of ‘traditional capital’ and less than 3% of venture capital financing.” However, things like crowdfunding, incubator programs, and mentorship could be changing the tide.

Howard Leonhardt is a spokesperson for Startup California, the founder of organizations to help women entrepreneurs, and according to the information we received, a businessman who has sold companies for billions in his own career. He’s also a big supporter of the “conscious capitalism movement,” that could help women in their small business endeavors.

We asked three questions via email and collected the following answers from Leonhardt. Do you think “conscious capitalism” is the next big thing for women small business owners?

MadameNoire: How does the “conscious capitalism” approach benefit women?

Howard Leonhardt: A more holistic “conscious capitalism” approach to business favors inspiring and motivating women to work in, buy from, invest in and collaborate with companies. “Conscious capitalism” means treating people well. Treating employees well and suppliers well. Treating your community well and your environment well.  “Conscious capitalism” means the company has a higher sense of purpose than just net profits. These types of businesses attract and retain the most talented people and thus create the happiest repeat customers which leads to long term sustainability and profitability for investors.

MN: Why would “conscious capitalism” benefit women more than men? And what are some examples of women-owned businesses that have seen success from this approach?

HL: “Conscious capitalism” and crowdfunding help women reach new sources of customers, investors and collaborators.  Traditional methods of financing and building companies have been dominated by men. These old ways created the 95:5 gender gap in venture financing. “Conscious capitalism,” local investing and crowdfunding break down these old barriers.

Women-led businesses that have benefited from conscious capitalism include REI (Sally Jewel, CEO), Lululemon (Christine Day, CEO), and Sounds True (Tami Simonson, CEO).

MN: What tips would you have for women to manage successful crowdfunding campaigns?

HL: The word “campaign” describes the process well.  Those seeking to raise capital via crowdfunding should follow the best practices of politicians who win elections. You need to reach potential investors and win their hearts, wallets and mind.  You need to get out and debate, cajole, corral, beg, influence, inspire and win over your audience. This equates to lots of speeches, hand shakes, networking, blogs and twitter posts and follow-up calls and emails.  Help people feel a part of your movement. Get your core supporters to fully buy in and help you. Get influential opinion leaders to endorse you. Have a clear concise video of your company vision that reaches peoples hearts.  Tell your story like a good movie trailer. Grab interest. Get news coverage. Make your campaign more than just a capital raise for a company make it an uprising—a cause people can buy into, join up and believe in.

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