Kerry Washington was recently awarded the 2014 Crystal Award for Excellence in Television in Los Angeles, California. Her work as the fearless leader of Pope and Associates on ABCs Scandal is now in its fourth season. During the award gala this month, Washington shared a speech that struck a nerve of truth that resonated with many women across the nation. Women normally shy away from being open risk takers because of their fear of failing publicly. Being perceived as less than perfect can sometimes paralyze women who want to start their own business, raise capital or fulfill their passion.
The effort to start a new business and to raise capital using online crowdfunding platforms is not an option for some because women generally believe everything has to be perfect before taking on the risk. For those who believe crowdfunding is an option, they typically will not set a goal of half a million dollars initially. Women entrepreneurs tend to shy away from asking for the true investment amount needed to launch their businesses.
According to Dr. Richard Swart, Director of Research for the University of California, Berkeley’s Program for Innovation in Entrepreneurial and Social Finance, 84% of men use crowdfunding as a tool for raising capital in a public setting. Women certainly use crowdfunding as a source for social finance but in far lower numbers. Women often tend to set lower goals for their crowdfunding campaigns yet are more successful at achieving the goals set.
Moola-Hoop.com co-founder, Brenda Bazan, launched a crowdfunding platform and designed it with women entrepreneurs in mind. Her goal was to help thousands of women realize their dreams by providing a path to fund their business and creative ideas. “Women tend to under sell and over perform which is appropriate for crowdfunding,” shares Bazan in a recent interview on Disrupt Radio.
Research shows start-ups and new ventures that successfully raise capital via crowdfunding typically will find it easier to raise or have access to additional capital from angel investors, venture capitalists and other traditional mechanisms of financing. Investors are typically looking for the dramatic vision and the rich story of how the idea will grow. But, women fail to tell their stories or talk about themselves in front of investors due to the fear of making a mistake.
Washington dispelled the notion of women feeling they have to be perfect. In her speech given on June 11, 2014. Washington shared,
“We as women put ourselves in this situation of feeling like we can’t take a risk, like in order to step out there we have to be perfect, because we’re scared that if we don’t say the right thing, or do the right thing, that we’ll reflect poorly on ourselves and our community, whether that community be women, people of color, both.”
Helping women recognize the true opportunity that exists in the market today will be vitally important to further development of women-owned microenterprises, job creation and an increase in economic development in local communities. Creating an ecosystem that welcomes women crowdfunders who have innovative ideas and disruptive companies is the responsibility of all stakeholders. Women, like Cate Blanchett, the winner of the 2014 Crystal Award for Excellence in Film, should be celebrated for their words of wisdom. When analyzing the data, men continue to outnumber women when it comes to high paying jobs and raising capital for start-ups.
The problem, however, is not with the system per se, it is the mindset of the women. Washington went further to point out the need for change,
“[Women] need to be willing to be uncomfortable, to be flawed, to be imperfect, to own our voice, to step into our light, so that we can continue to inspire other people and employ other people, and make room for more and more voices and presence.”
If more women start to see successful female business owners overcome their fear of failure, take on more risks and build strong enterprises others just may follow and the crowd will cheer them on.