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Lessons Learned From Writing A Book For Women Entrepreneurs

When I wrote 'Our Turn' for women entrepreneurs and toured the UK for the book's banking sponsor - I learnt a few key observations:

‘Western women will have to save the world’ is a quote by the Dalai Lama. But will women help them do it, or will they talk a lot about it, but not actually help them? Will men? Some of us will help.

I’m looking for funding for a woman entrepreneur I’ve known for 15 years. She’s British. She is not a start-up and needs a small cash-flow sum. Of course there are lenders and she will get the money. What I wanted to know is are their women’s groups that foster and invest in other women. I spoke to a couple of prominent women advocates, but they were not able to help. They don’t organise such things at their events. So maybe there is no need for such special treatment for women?

When I wrote my book about women entrepreneurs, ‘Our Turn’, little did I know just how many advantages men have thanks to women (and other men blocking women).

Dear Women of the World,

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for making it so much easier for us men. You are willing to undervalue your work, and so of course we are happy to pay you less than a man for it. What you think we’re stupid? Well, most of us are not.

You are willing to work longer for the same pay as a man, research proves it. Thank you. It makes it easier to pick a man to promote – heck I’m hardly about to move someone up who works the longest hours am I to do the same work?

Of course you have rights and should have more rights. But guess what - nothing of value was ever granted for free out of the generosity of good grace – and especially not to women…not by other women either by the way.

And the next time you say, ‘I’m just a housewife or I’m just a mom’ know that as you value yourself, so do others – and your entire gender too.

And it’s unfortunate because the world needs more women entrepreneurs than ever. It needs more women in business because statistically they are more likely to succeed. It needs more women running top companies FTSE companies, because statistically their share prices do better. It needs more women at heads of Government, because statistically it leads to less wars. It needs more women managing household finances, because statistically it leads to less personal insolvencies.

But if you want all this…come and get it….out of my cold steely grip.

Moreover, to all of you who whinge about the fricking glass ceiling, and it all being unfair – I have only four words to say to you – they’re not even in English. Those words are:  ‘Ang San Suu Kyi’. Generals, in Burma, she stood up to. Generals. So shut up and stop defeating yourself before we men, and false women friends, even get the chance to do it for you.

As with most things political, there are the talkers and the do-ers. Those who talk about promoting women’s rights, and those who actually do it. I’d like to thank the women who stepped up when I asked for help in supporting a woman-owned business.

It astonishes me how many yap-yap about promoting women (as if they’ve just discovered it) and those who actually go on and do it with money or meetings. There are many women, happy to stand on the shoulders of others, but raise them – just like men too!

Following on from last week’s article about women investors, I wanted to add notes from a trip to Singapore.

I was struck by how many are women entrepreneurs in a room in which I’ve delivered a speech. Far more than I would have found in the UK. A room with about a thousand entrepreneurs and about forty percent were women.

There can be little doubt about male dominance when only one out of a hundred of the UK’s largest companies are headed by a woman. Even in the US, it’s a similar proportion of women who head Fortune 500 companies.

How ironic. Research shows 46 per cent of all US businesses are owned by women, and employment at women-owned businesses is growing at 18 per cent, compared with 8 per cent for all companies, according to business magazine Forbes.

And when it comes to investment, research also shows women make better investors than men. Women’s portfolio’s earned 1.4% annually more than men’s did in a study of over 35,000 investors by the University of California at Davis. Indeed single women earned 2.3% annually more than single men.

Poor male performance is due to over-trading according to the study. Men trade their accounts 45% more often than women. And single men shuffle their holdings 67% more than single women. Perhaps the adage about men’s fear of commitment is true after all.

A National Association of Investors Corporation ten-year study found all-female investment clubs outpaced all-male investment clubs by producing 23.8% average compounded lifetime annual returns compared to 19.2% for male clubs.

So what lessons are there for men? After all, as a sex, we men are always ready and willing to learn from women, aren’t we? Do not male drivers at the first opportunity admit they are lost and ask passers-by for help?

First, save transaction costs by not churning your portfolio. Second, men should spend more time researching before investing. Fear of making a mistake was 50% to 60% higher among women than among males according to the US National Center for Women & Retirement Research. Consequently, women spend 40% more time than men researching and are also less likely to trade on a ‘hot tip’.

Third men need to reign in their overconfidence. 52% of men express confidence in their ability to invest wisely, compared to just 38% of women according to the American Savings Economic Council. Men are overconfident in their abilities to pick market beating stocks.

This in turn often makes women better traders – more risk averse, awaiting clearer market signals for good trading opportunities and more diversified.

So what do women need? A little more confidence. You can't see how good you are. On second thoughts, as a man, I don't want the competition - please, stay as you are.

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