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9 Steps to Creating a Landing Page That Reads Your Prospects’ Minds

So you’ve decided to create a landing page to promote your new product or service.

But how do you know if your landing page will convince your readers to convert?

There are a number of things you can do to ensure your readers are enticed by your landing page and want to know more information.

In this post, we’re going to figure out exactly what you need to do to produce a mind-reading landing page. But first, let’s start with the basics.

What is a landing page?

Before you create a landing page, you need to understand exactly what it is.

A landing page is a dedicated web page, often called a squeeze or splash page. The objective is to collect your visitor’s data through a lead capture form.

You might use a landing page to give away a free e-book, webinar, or course in exchange for your audience signing up for your email list.

Or maybe you collect emails before launching your new website.

The best part about a landing page is that it’s only one page.

It’s one page you need to optimize.

Why, then, do so many people make mistakes with their landing pages?

And why do so many people struggle to convert their customers?

A well-crafted landing page will enable you to target a specific audience, create a compelling message, and increase conversions.

But what goes into creating an effective one?

What makes some landing pages successful and some fall flat on their face?

It all comes down to whether you know your audience or not.

Those who know their audience will be able to create the right messaging, hold their audience’s attention, and come up with a mind-reading landing page.

But just how do you do that?

Let’s find out.

1. Create a persona

It all begins with creating your ideal persona. When you know who you’re targeting, you will be better equipped to create a landing page that resonates with them.

Your personas should be your ideal target audience. After all, if the right people aren’t visiting your landing page, you will never convert in the first place.

Your personas should include demographic information like where they live, their ages, and their genders.

But they should go further than that.

If you want to create a mind-reading landing page, you need to know what inspires your ideal personas and what they hope to achieve.

You must find out their opinions and how they feel towards specific ideas.

When you do this, you’ll able to position your offer to them so that it’s irresistible.

Buffer uses personas to connect with their target customers.

Screen Shot 2017 09 20 at 13.57.16

Using the information they’ve put together here, they will have a greater understanding of how to create their landing page.

You want to increase your chance of conversion, so don’t try to make your landing page appeal to absolutely everyone.

Instead, use the data in your personas to produce highly-targeted landing pages that speak to a specific group of people.

You only have a few moments to grab your visitor’s attention. And in those short few moments, they’ll decide whether or not they want to convert.

2. Present the offer

The reason landing pages are so effective is that they isolate the action.

There shouldn’t be a menu or other links on the landing page. It should all guide the visitor toward completing the action you want them to take.

Distracting them with multiple options is a surefire way to confuse them. Your conversion rate will suffer.

Do not give your visitors a choice. Make it clear what you want them to do.

The only option they should have is to convert or not to convert, like in this example from GeicoScreen Shot 2017 09 15 at 16.12.02

The clear landing page means that whoever lands on the page only has one option. Enter their zip code or not.

But just making the chosen action clear isn’t enough to ensure that your visitors convert.

You need to create an offer that resonates with them enough to take the action.

Think about it. A landing page that asks its users to sign up for the newsletter in exchange for nothing isn’t going to convert very well.

Why?

Because there’s no incentive. Why should your visitor do anything for you without getting something in return?

And no, your newsletter alone is not enough of an incentive.

But creating a compelling offer doesn’t have to be a complicated task. You just need to provide your audience something they actually want.

Autopilot knows their readers would be interested in growing revenue with Instapage, so a replay of the webinar would be beneficial to them.

Screen Shot 2017 09 15 at 16.13.29

This is a good example of a strong offer.

If you already have a landing page that you’re looking to improve, ask yourself whether or not as a visitor you would take the desired action.

If the answer is no, then there are changes you need to make.

If you’re struggling to create an offer, but you know you want to build your email list with a landing page, then look at your most popular piece of content.

We can see here that the most popular piece of content on my blog is [enter content].

If you were to offer this content as a downloadable PDF or checklist, people would be likely to give you their email address in exchange.

Why?

Because you already know it performs well. You have proof there’s a need for it.

Here, the hard work is done for you. Find a popular piece of content, find a way to repackage it as a downloadable piece, and offer it to your audience.

But what if your landing page isn’t for an e-book, checklist, or downloadable PDF?

Think about other ways you can provide value to your audience.

3. Write the headline

Once you’ve got your offer down, you need to start working on the headline. The headline must be captivating.

It’s usually the first thing your visitor will see, so you need to perfect it.

The headline is often the deciding factor of whether or not a visitor will convert. And you only have one real opportunity to make it work.

Your headline should be driven by the benefits. You need to outline exactly what will happen to the visitor once they take your desired action.

Capital One makes use of both a heading a subheading to get their point across:

Screen Shot 2017 09 20 at 14.10.15

They know people who are interested in their service are going to want to have their business in order, so they position their offer in that sequence.

Salesforce has a clear headline and message:

Screen Shot 2017 09 20 at 14.01.23

This headline is great because it grabs the audience’s attention. They’re immediately drawn to it. Visitors automatically know what will happen if they fill in the form on the right.

Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers says if you’re struggling to find the right words, then look at the language your audience uses.

Why is this effective?

Because if you use your audience’s own language in your headline, it will resonate better with them.

After the headline, you’re likely going to use a subheading.

This is another opportunity to mention the benefits. It’s for people who were compelled by the headline but need some more convincing.

It gives you another chance to keep their attention and draw them closer to your call to action.

4. Create the copy

Good copy sells. You know that.  It’s why some companies pay copywriters thousands to put words on a page.

But it’s not as easy as just writing words on a page. They have to mean something to your target customer.

As we mentioned with the headline, if you’re struggling to find words, then utilize the language your prospects use.

Your copy is there as a tool to help you get your point and message across and increase the chance of conversion.

It all begins with finding the sweet spot for the right amount of copy. Write too little and you won’t have enough words to get your point across. But write too much and the page will become overwhelming.

However, just saying “find the sweet spot” doesn’t help you.

In general terms, the amount you write depends on the offer. For things that need a lot of explaining and persuading, you’re going to need more copy.

For things that require the prospect to provide you with more than just their email address, i.e. when they are making a purchase, you are naturally going to need to use additional copy to ensure all the necessary details are there.

When it comes to actually writing your copy, you should mirror your brand’s style.

Keep in mind that it’s not about you. It’s about the customer, so the phrasing you use should be customer-centric and focus on them.

Evernote personalizes their landing page copy by avoiding using words like “we” or “our” and instead opts for words like “your” and “you”:
Screen Shot 2017 09 20 at 14.11.57
These words highlight to your prospects that the main reason for this landing page (and your business) is to help them solve their problems.

5. Use visual aids

Like we said, your landing page is only one page, so everything should be there for a reason and have a purpose. The same rule applies to any images or videos you use.

When you’re adding images to your landing page, you should utilize ones that help your visitors visualize their life after they’ve taken your action.

Airbnb is a business that focuses on people. So it makes sense that they should use images of people on their landing page:  Screen Shot 2017 09 15 at 16.23.39

They want their users to feel accomplished and happy if they sign up as an Airbnb host, so they include an image of a woman smiling.

For anyone thinking about signing up for the Airbnb platform, seeing an image like this will encourage them it’s a good idea.

Shopify, an e-commerce platform, uses images to show visitors how their shop could look:

Screen Shot 2017 09 15 at 16.24.15

You can utilize images to guide your audience towards the call to action.

The images make your offer more human.

Your audience cannot touch or hold your product. Your landing page should make use of images to help them visualize it.

6. Include social proof

When creating a mind-reading landing page, understand that one question your audience will have is, “Do I need this?”

This is true for every landing page.

One way to read their minds is to address their question through the concept of social proof.

People are more inclined to take action if they know other people just like them have taken action and benefited from it.

Using social proof on your landing page provides prospects with another layer of trust. They feel like it’s more likely your product/service will actually do what you say it will because they can see what other people thought about it.

For example, check out what Freshdesk does on their landing page:Screen Shot 2017 09 20 at 14.16.30

Do you have reviews and testimonials for your product you can use on the landing page?

Visitors get to experience how their life could be different from signing up. And they learn that from other people just like them.

7. Utilize a call to action

Your call to action button is important. It’s perhaps the most important element on the page.

If your audience can’t see your button clearly, they’re not going to know what to do.

Each landing page should have a call to action. The call to action is there to guide your user’s attention.

Let’s talk about your call to action button copy.

Your button copy should be action driven and relate to the offer available.

“Download” copy on the call to action is vague, and the visitor might not even remember what it is they’re downloading.

Take a look at the call to action button on Hired. It stands out as the only red button on the page:

Screen Shot 2017 09 20 at 14.22.19

Alexa uses the “Try 7 days free” copy, which takes the pressure off the visitor. They don’t have to fully commit to using the service, and won’t be charged if they’re not happy with it:

Screen Shot 2017 09 15 at 16.27.59

Both Hired and Alexa use excited copy like “Get started.” Using the word “get” psychologically makes people feel as though they are getting something in return for giving you their details.

8. Measure your results

If you don’t measure the results of your landing page, you have no real way of understanding whether or not it is converting successfully.

Use Google Analytics to measure how many visitors came to your landing page and converted by giving you their data.

When looking at the effectiveness of your landing page, consider your bounce rate.

Your bounce rate is the number of people who landed on your landing page and didn’t convert.

If your bounce rate is low it could mean one of the following things:

You aren’t using the right keywords. Your keywords should be relevant to the audience you want to attract. If not, you will have a bunch of untargeted prospects coming to your site with no interest in what you’re offering.

The design on your landing page is poor. Consider how often the average person spends on your landing page. If it doesn’t follow a logical flow or is too confusing, they’re more than likely going to bounce.

9. Make sure you test

The only way to know if your attempts are working is to run tests.

A/B testing your landing page involves splitting your traffic in half, so half the traffic sees one version of the landing page and the other half sees another.

This way you will be able to make informed decisions about what does and doesn’t work.

You can compare two versions of your landing page and test different elements.

Do you have two headlines you want to use, but you aren’t sure which will work best? Use A/B testing.

Then after you’ve generated enough traffic, you’ll be able to see which led to the highest number of conversions.

With this data, you can continually improve your landing page to ensure it converts the most people.

When testing elements, don’t try and test everything all at once. If you do this, you’ll have no clear idea what you need to change and what you need to keep the same.

Instead, change a few elements at a time and keep the other elements the same as a control variable.

Conclusion

Your landing page has one job, and one job only: To convert.

So why are you not doing everything you can to encourage your visitors to take your desired action?

It all begins with planning.

But the planning begins even before you start thinking about what you will have on your landing page.

If you want it to be successful, you have to read your prospects’ minds.

Essentially, you need to know your customers really well.

Once you know them, you’ll determine what words, images, and reasoning resonate most with them.

And once you start using their own ideas on your landing pages, your conversion rates are going to increase.

But, with everything in marketing, there is no one size fits all.

Follow the best practices listed in this post and develop your understanding of your audience, and you’ll be able to create winning landing pages for all your offers.

What strategies do you use to improve your landing pages?

The post 9 Steps to Creating a Landing Page That Reads Your Prospects’ Minds appeared first on Neil Patel.

Get the Best Balance Transfer Business Credit Cards

Are you looking for the best balance transfer business credit cards? Check out what we’ve found!

You Can Get the Best Balance Transfer Business Credit Cards

We looked into a lot of corporate credit cards for you. So, here are our favorites.

Per the SBA, corporate credit card limits are a whopping 10 – 100 times that of personal credit cards!

This reveals you can get a lot more funds with corporate credit cards. And it likewise shows you can have personal credit cards at shops. So, you would now have an extra card at the exact same stores for your company.

And you will not need collateral, cash flow, or financials to get corporate credit.

Best Balance Transfer Business Credit Card Benefits

Benefits can differ. So, make certain to select the benefit you would like from this selection of alternatives.

Small Business Credit Cards for Luxurious Travel Points

Your best balance transfer business credit card comes with travel points!

Flat-rate Travel Rewards

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

Have a look at the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business. It has an introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, which then rises to $95. The regular APR is 18.49%, variable due to the prime rate. There is no introductory annual percentage rate. Pay no transfer fees. Late fees go up to $39.

This card is fantastic for travel if your expenditures don’t come under common bonus categories. You can get unlimited double miles on all purchases, without limits. Earn 5x miles on rental cars and hotels if you book through Capital One Travel.

Get an introductory bonus of 50,000 miles. That’s the same as $500 in travel. Yet you only get it if you spend $4,500 in the initial 3 months from account opening. There is no foreign transaction fee. You will need a good to outstanding FICO rating to qualify.

Find it here: https://www.capitalone.com/small-business/credit-cards/spark-miles/

Best Balance Transfer Business Credit Cards Credit Suite

Establish business credit fast and beat the recession with our research-backed guide to 12 business credit cards and lines.

Bonus Travel Categories with a Sign-Up Offer

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

For a terrific sign-up offer and bonus categories, have a look at the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. 

Pay a yearly fee of $95. Regular APR is 17.49 – 22.49%, variable. There is no introductory APR offer.

Get 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 in the first three months after account opening. This works out to $1,250 towards travel rewards if you redeem with Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Get 3 points per dollar of the first $150,000 you spend with this card. So this is for purchases on travel, shipping, internet, cable, and phone services. Plus it includes advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year.

You can get 25% more in travel redemption when you redeem for travel using Chase Ultimate Rewards. You will need a great to excellent FICO score to qualify.

Find it here: https://creditcards.chase.com/business-credit-cards/ink/business-preferred 

No Yearly Fee

Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World MasterCard® credit card

For no annual fee while still getting travel rewards, take a look at this card from Bank of America. It has no yearly fee and a 0% introductory APR for purchases during the first 9 billing cycles. Afterwards, its regular APR is 13.74 – 23.74% variable.

You can get 30,000 bonus points when you make a minimum of $3,000 in net purchases. So this is within 90 days of your account opening. You can redeem these points for a $300 statement credit towards travel purchases.

Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases, everywhere, every time. And this is despite how much you spend.

Also earn 3 points per every dollar spent when you reserve your travel (car, hotel, airline) via the Bank of America® Travel Center. There is no limit to the number of points you can earn and points don’t expire.

You will need excellent credit to get this one (as in, 700s or better).

Find it here: https://www.bankofamerica.com/smallbusiness/credit-cards/products/travel-rewards-business-credit-card/

Hotel Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

Have a look at the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ Card from American Express. It has a yearly fee of $125. There is no introductory APR offer. The regular APR is a variable 17.24 – 26.24%. You will need great to superb credit scores to get this card.

Points

You can earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after using your card to make purchases of $3,000 in the initial three months. Get 6x the points for qualified purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. You can get 4x the points at US restaurants and filling stations. And you can get 4x the points on wireless telephone services bought straight from US providers and on US purchases for shipping.

Get double points on all other eligible purchases.

Rewards

Also, you get a free night each year after your card anniversary. And you can earn an additional free night after you spend $60,000 on your card in a calendar year.

You get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status with your Card. Also, spend $35,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year and get an upgrade to Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status through the end of the next calendar year.

Plus, each calendar year you can get credit for 15 nights towards the next level of Marriott Bonvoy Elite status.

Find it here: https://creditcard.americanexpress.com/d/bonvoy-business/ 

An Alternative to the Best Balance Transfer Business Credit Card: Reliable Credit Cards for Fair to Poor Credit, Not Requiring a Personal Guarantee

Brex Card for Startups

Have a look at the Brex Card for Startups. It has no yearly fee.

You will not need to supply your Social Security number to apply. And you will not need to provide a personal guarantee. They will take your EIN. 

However, they do not accept every industry. 

Also, there are some industries they will not work with, as well as others where they want added documentation. For a list, go here: https://brex.com/legal/prohibited_activities/.

To determine creditworthiness, Brex checks a company’s cash balance, spending patterns, and investors.

You can get 7x points on rideshare. Get 4x on Brex Travel. Also, get triple points on restaurants. And get double points on recurring software payments. Get 1x points on everything else.

You can have bad credit scores (even a 300 FICO) to qualify.

Find it here: https://brex.com/lp/startups-higher-limits/ 

An Alternative to the Best Balance Transfer Business Credit Card: Secure Corporate Credit Cards for Fair Credit Scores

Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business

Have a look at the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business. It has no annual fee. There is no introductory APR offer. The regular APR is a variable 24.49%. You can get unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase for your company, with no minimum to redeem.

While this card is within reach if you have average credit, beware of the APR. Yet if you can pay in a timely manner, and in full, then it’s a good deal.

Find it here: https://www.capitalone.com/small-business/credit-cards/spark-classic/

An Alternative to the Best Balance Transfer Business Credit Card: Outstanding Business Credit Cards with No Annual Fee

No Yearly Fee/Flat Rate Cash Back

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

Take a look at the Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card. Beyond no yearly fee, get an introductory 0% APR for the initial one year. After that, the APR is a variable 14.74 – 20.74%. 

You can get unlimited 1.5% Cash Back rewards on every purchase made for your business. And get $500 bonus cash back after spending $3,000 in the initial three months from account opening. You can redeem your rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel and more through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. You will need exceptional credit scores to get this card.

Find it here: https://creditcards.chase.com/business-credit-cards/ink/unlimited 

Best Balance Transfer Business Credit Cards Credit Suite

Establish business credit fast and beat the recession with our research-backed guide to 12 business credit cards and lines.

An Alternative to the Best Balance Transfer Business Credit Card: Company Credit Cards with a 0% Introductory APR – Pay Zero!

Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Check out the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. It has no annual fee. There is a 0% introductory APR for the first year. Afterwards, the APR is a variable 14.74 – 20.74%.

Get double Membership Rewards® points on everyday company purchases like office supplies or client suppers for the first $50,000 spent annually. Get 1 point per dollar afterwards.

You will need good to outstanding credit to qualify.

Find it here: https://creditcard.americanexpress.com/d/bluebusinessplus-credit-card/

American Express® Blue Business Cash Card

Also take a look at the American Express® Blue Business Cash Card. Keep in mind: the American Express® Blue Business Cash Card is identical to the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. Yet its rewards are in cash as opposed to points.

Get 2% cash back on all qualified purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year. After that get 1%.

It has no annual fee. There is a 0% introductory APR for the initial twelve months. After that, the APR is a variable 14.74 – 20.74%.

You will need great to superb credit scores to qualify.

Find it here: https://creditcard.americanexpress.com/d/business-bluecash-credit-card/ 

An Alternative to the Best Balance Transfer Business Credit Card: Terrific Cards for Cash Back

Flat-Rate Rewards

Capital One ® Spark® Cash for Business 

Check out the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business. It has an introductory $0 annual fee for the initial year. Afterwards, this card costs $95 per year. There is no introductory APR offer. The regular APR is a variable 18.49%.

You can get a $500 one-time cash bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. Get unlimited 2% cash back. Redeem any time without any minimums.

You will need great to excellent credit scores to qualify.

Find it here: https://www.capitalone.com/small-business/credit-cards/spark-cash/ 

Flat-Rate Rewards and No Yearly Cost

Discover it® Business Card

Take a look at the Discover it® Business Card. It has no annual fee. There is an introductory APR of 0% on purchases for 12 months. Then the regular APR is a variable 14.49 – 22.49%. 

Get unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no category restrictions or bonuses. They double the 1.5% Cashback Match™ at the end of the first year. There is no minimal spend requirement.

You can download transactions| easily to Quicken, QuickBooks, and Excel. Keep in mind: you will need great to exceptional credit to get this card.

https://www.discover.com/credit-cards/business/

Bonus Categories

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Check out the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card. It has no yearly fee. There is a 0% introductory APR for the initial twelve months. After that, the APR is a variable 14.74 – 20.74%. You can get a $500 one-time cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the initial three months from account opening.

You can get 5% cash back on the initial $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services each account anniversary year. 

Get 2% cash back on the initial $25,000 spent in combined purchases at filling stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Get 1% cash back on all other purchases. There is no restriction to the amount you can earn.

You will need exceptional credit scores to get approval for this card.

Find it here: https://creditcards.chase.com/business-credit-cards/ink/cash?iCELL=61GF 

Boosted Cash Back Categories

Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards MasterCard® credit card

Check out the Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards MasterCard® credit card. Get an 0% introductory APR for the first 9 billing cycles of the account. After that, the APR is 13.74% – 23.74% variable. There is no annual fee. You can get a $300 statement credit offer.

Get 3% cash back in the category of your choice. So these are gasoline stations (default), office supply stores, travel, TV/telecom & wireless, computer services or business consulting services. Earn 2% cash back on dining. So this is for the initial $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each calendar year. Then get 1% after, with no limits.

You will need exceptional credit to qualify.

Find it here: https://promo.bankofamerica.com/smallbusinesscards2/ 

An Alternative to the Best Balance Transfer Business Credit Card: Flexible Financing Credit Cards – Have A Look at Your Alternatives!

The Plum Card® from American Express

Take a look at the Plum Card® from American Express. It has an introductory yearly fee of $0 for the first year. Afterwards, pay $250 each year.

Get a 1.5% early pay discount cash back bonus when you pay within 10 days. You can take up to 60 days to pay without interest when you pay the minimum due by the payment due date.

You will need great to exceptional credit to qualify.

Find it here: https://creditcard.americanexpress.com/d/the-plum-card-business-charge-card/ 

An Alternative to the Best Balance Transfer Business Credit Card: Unbeatable Cards for Jackpot Rewards That Never Expire

Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business

Check out the Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business. It has no annual fee. You can get 1.5% cash back on every purchase. There is no limit on the cash back you can earn. And earn a one-time $200 cash bonus when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. Rewards never expire.

Pay a 0% introductory APR for 9 months. Then pay 14.49% – 22.49% variable APR after that.

You will need great to excellent credit to qualify.

Find it here: https://www.capitalone.com/small-business/credit-cards/spark-cash-select/

Best Balance Transfer Business Credit Cards Credit Suite

Establish business credit fast and beat the recession with our research-backed guide to 12 business credit cards and lines.

The Very Best Balance Transfer Business Credit Card for You

Your straight-out ideal company credit cards hinge on your credit report and ratings.

Only you can select which features you want and need. So, to do your research. What is outstanding for you could be disastrous for another person.

And, as always, ensure to establish credit in the recommended order for the best, fastest benefits.

The post Get the Best Balance Transfer Business Credit Cards appeared first on Credit Suite.

Can Women Entrepreneurs Change a Sexist System, When 98 Percent of VC Funding Goes to Men?

Why Men Get Substantially More Venture Capital than Women Entrepreneurs, and How to Change It

Over the past 20 years, there has been a 114% increase in the number of women-owned businesses.  Women entrepreneurs are on the rise for sure, with more and more popping up every year.  One might assume that, along with this increase, there has been a correlating increase in the number of female entrepreneurs that are getting venture capital.

While there may have very well been an increase, it is sadly disproportional.  According to Crunchbase, in 2018 women entrepreneurs only got 2.2% of the $130 billion of venture capital investments in the United States.

What is promising, is that in Q1 of 2019, Crunchbase reports that 17% of venture capital investments went to businesses that had at least one female founder. Of this, 2% went to firms founded by females only while 15% went to firms with both female and male founders.  This 17% represents $8.1 billion.

The increase is both significant and promising, but when you consider that 83% of venture capital investments in Q1 of 2019 still went to firms founded by men alone, you can see there is still an issue.

What is Venture Capital?

Before we can delve into the reasons behind more males getting venture capital than women entrepreneurs, it can help to remind ourselves of what venture capital is.  It’s an investment.  It is a group of investors taking a chance on the next big thing in an effort to gain a profit.  They believe in the idea and the entrepreneur, and they are willing to go out on a limb, but not too far out.

The more perceived risk, the less likely the funds are to flow.  So, do investors see more risk with women than with men?  Do they see men as more stable or more capable?  Maybe they just have more men asking for their money than women.  Which one is it?  Probably a combination of all three.

Hit the jackpot with our best webinar and its trustworthy list of seven vendors who can help you build business credit.

Why Don’t Women Entrepreneurs Get More Venture Capital?

There are a few reasons why women entrepreneurs are not getting the venture capital funds. Aside from the obvious gender gap that exists in virtually all of the business world because of a sexist culture in general, there are some other forces at work here. By understanding exactly what these forces are, we can better combat them.  It is hard to fight an enemy that you cannot see clearly.

Lack of Women Owned Venture Capital Firms

While gender shouldn’t matter on either side of the money, studies show that is does. Female investors are more likely to invest in women entrepreneurs.  Since only 9% of U.S. venture capitalists are women, this poses a problem.  Seventy four percent of U.S. venture capital firms are male only. This clearly does not bode well for female owned start-ups.

women entrepreneurs Credit Suite2

Stereotypes and Approach

It seems that investors approach men with questions related to how they plan to win, allowing them to play offense.  Women, on the other hand, are given questions related to how they intend to not lose.  They are inadvertently put on the defensive, which lends itself to negativity.

Research has shown that, despite the numbers, even male investors invest based on feelings as much as numbers.  Its much easier to feel warm and fuzzy about an offensive presentation than one that is already playing defense. Even if you are discussing ways to avoid losing, the idea of losing is still being discussed and therefore pushed to the forefront of the presentation, and then the minds of the investors.

Competence vs. Confidence

Women entrepreneurs tend to be competence focused.  They meticulously go over all the numbers and present them as is.  In contrast, men tend to oversell, erring on the side of confidence.  They may over exaggerate a bit, in anticipation of what could and what they believe will happen, while women will not typically go so far.

It’s not that men are being untruthful.  They are just selling based on more than numbers. They are selling based on their gut.  There is no doubt in their minds what they can do, even if the numbers do not necessarily show it yet.  Women on the other hand, are selling based only what they can prove based on numbers alone.  They may have confidence and believe they can do much more than what the numbers show, but their focus on competence trumps that and causes them not to let the belief they will do better seep through.

Can Women Entrepreneurs Change the System?

Not overnight, no.  Probably not even in a decade.  However, much progress can be made in that amount of time.  The increase in just the first quarter of 2019 shows that change is happening.  There is a lot of change needed however.  What can women do?

They can do what many are already doing.  As more and more women are making it across the lines and successfully nabbing venture capital funds, they are reaching over the fence to help others up.  They are investing in women entrepreneurs, and training them in how to find and win venture capital funds themselves. The following are just a few women led venture capital firms working to turn the tide.

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Female Founders Fund

Halogen Ventures

Brilliant Ventures

SoGal Ventures

Forerunner Ventures

Of course, it shouldn’t be that women have to go to women to get venture capital.  To really change the game, all genders need to be investing in businesses despite the gender of the founder.  The facts in our world, however, lead us to believe that isn’t going to happen any time soon.

Still, women can begin to level the playing field somewhat by remembering to balance confidence with competence, and playing offense even if they are thrown into the defense.

What Does this Look Like Practically?

Knowing what the issues we can control actually are, means we can swing the pendulum in our favor by making those changes.  While we do not want to lie to investors, women entrepreneurs could benefit from showing more confidence in their presentations to investors.

Also, take advantage of the training offers from those who have gone before you and found success. They can show you not only how to play the confidence game, but also how to ensure you can make a smooth transition from defense to offense, despite the approach of the investors.

How Can Women Entrepreneurs Fill the Gap in the Meantime?

Fight for the venture capital funds, but if they don’t come through, or if it isn’t enough, there are plenty of other options.

Traditional Loans

These are the common go to, and they can work well, if you have good personal credit.  In fact, they are maybe the best option.  That is, if it is an option that you have available.  At least it may be the best option in the beginning.

The options are many, from regular secured loans to unsecured loans and lines-of-credit to SBA loans.

Secured financing offers lower interest rates. In addition, personal credit quality and revenue are not the sole determining factors for approval.  Collateral can cover a multitude of sins. Some accepted types of collateral include:

– Account receivables and purchase orders

– 401k, IRA, stocks, and bonds

– Inventory

– Equipment

Of course, if you’re trying to start a business, you are likely only going to have personal assets to put up for collateral, not inventory or equipment.

Unsecured Financing

Generally speaking, unsecured financing is a valid option for amounts up to $150,000. You can get an approval if you have decent personal credit, and get 0% introductory rates for 6-18 months even as a startup.

The Small Business Administration

The SBA Express is an option for women entrepreneurs in the startup phase.  You can get approved for a loan up to $350,000. Rates of 4.5-6.5% are standard, and generally a line-of-credit good for 7 years. No collateral is needed for up to $25,000. There is a turnaround in 36 hours.

You can also access information, help, and support with the SBA’s Women’s Business Centers.

Grants

Grants are also a potential source of funding for women entrepreneurs, and they work well when combined with venture capital funds. A couple of popular ones include:

Amber Grants

$1,000 to a different women-owned business each month. At the end of the year, one of the monthly grant winners gets $10,000 more. See: https://ambergrantsforwomen.com/get-an-amber-grant/.

Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grants

Up to $100,000 is awarded to ten women-owned businesses per year. NOTE: this program is was on pause until the middle of 2019. See: https://www.eileenfisher.com/grant-program-guidelines/ for more information.

Life after the Venture

What happens after you are up and running?  Regardless of whether you snagged venture capital at the beginning, you will need to finance your business going forward. It really is best to do this with business credit rather than your personal credit.   Business credit, in case you didn’t know, is credit in the name of your business that is not associated with your personal FICO.  It doesn’t just happen however.  You have to build business credit intentionally.  Here’s how.

Separate Your Business from Yourself

Distinguish yourself from your small business. This means you can help your cause by incorporating or becoming a limited liability company (LLC). This is a distinct entity from the owner.  You also will need an EIN from the IRS.  That is an identifying number for your business, so you do not have to use your SSN when you apply for credit.

In addition, you will need a DUNS number from DUN and Bradstreet, a dedicated business telephone number, and a profession website and email address.  The phone number needs to be toll free, and the email address needs to have the same URL as the website.  A free email service will not suffice in this case.

Do Business with Starter Vendors

These are vendors that will offer net terms on invoices without a credit check.  If you do business with them in your business name and not your personal name, when they report these payments to the credit reporting agencies, they will be reporting in your business name.  This is how you can begin to build business credit. These vendors are said to be in the vendor credit tier.

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Work Up to the Retail Credit Tier

Once there are 5 to 8 or more vendor credit tier accounts reporting to at least one of the business credit reporting agencies, you can move on to the retail credit tier. These are businesses like Office Depot and Staples.

Move on Up to the Fleet Credit Tier

Are there 8 to 10 accounts reporting? Then progress to the fleet credit tier. These include businesses such as BP and Conoco. Use this credit to purchase fuel, and to fix, and maintain vehicles.

Take the Leap to the Cash Credit Tier

Have you been responsibly handling the credit you’ve gotten up to this point? Then move to the cash credit tier. These are companies like Visa and MasterCard.

For cards in each of these tiers be sure you only use your SSN and birthdate for identity verification.  Do not include them for credit checking purposes.

What’s the Verdict?  Can Women Entrepreneurs Change a Sexists System?

I think it depends on the approach taken.  You can’t change the mind of every sexist male in the world. There is a slow movement toward something better however.  If women continue to break into the venture capital scene on the investment side, there is a real chance.  If those that have broken through continue to train those coming behind them, and more women jump into the game both in their own firms and in joining firms with males, the ball is rolling in the right direction. With the understanding that women need to increase confidence and switch to offense when cornered into defense, the future looks bright for women entrepreneurs and venture capital.

In the meantime, all businesses, whether female owned or not, need to work on building business credit.  This is the key to finding continual funding throughout the life of a business.

There will always be those with a sexist mindset, but if these things can continue to happen, we can likely continue to see the large annual increases in the amount of venture capital funds women entrepreneurs receive.

 

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