New York city is looking to make 500 small loans to women-owned businesses in the next three years: Rachel in WWD

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By Kali Hays on March 8, 2018

New York city is looking to make 500 small loans to women-owned businesses in the next three years.
New York City is trying to get more small loans in the hands of women looking to expand their own businesses.

Through its WE Fund: Crowd partnership with Kiva, a crowdfunding web site focused on women entrepreneurs worldwide, the city said it’s helped funnel more than $280,000 in zero-interest loans to 40 women in New York since it launched in November, with the loans being a combination of city funds and thousands of outside contributors.

The mayor’s office said the average WE Fund loan is about $5,500 and that 80 percent of the loans have gone to minority entrepreneurs and 35 percent to immigrant entrepreneurs.

“This is about increasing the earning power of women and making sure that women are leading the next generation of home-grown companies,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said the program started after the mayor’s office “heard women entrepreneurs say loud and clear that they needed more access to capital to get their businesses off the ground.”

The effort looks to be working. Alexis Krase was able to raise $10,000 in little more than two weeks for her Brooklyn store offering plus-sized women’s apparel, Plus Bklyn, after a friend told her about the WE Fund loan program. While the larger portion of the money came from the city, a majority of it was crowdfunded from 124 lenders that contributed less than $100 each. With the money, Krase was able to meet with a local patternmaker last weekend and expects to have an in-house line at Plus Bklyn in a few months.

The friend who initially told her about WE Fund, Rachel Beide, also received $10,000 through the program, with 99 micro-lenders and a larger portion of support from the city going to fund the opening of a third location for her decade-old business Massage Williamsburg. Beide says on her crowdfunding page that her biggest obstacle as a small business “is access to funding at non-predatory lending rates.”

Personal loans from banks have interest rates that range from 6 to about 36 percent, according to stats from NerdWallet, often making it impossible or too risky for a small business owner or someone hoping to start one to access funding.

With the We Fund, New York and Kiva are planning to make a total of 500 loans over three years.

“It doesn’t take much capital for women entrepreneurs to build thriving businesses that support our city’s local economy, communities, and families,” Gregg Bishop, commissioner of the city’s Department of Small Business Services, said: “And it hasn’t taken much time for the city to change the lives of 40 entrepreneurs through WE Fund: Crowd. At this rate, we are well on our way to achieve our goal of reaching 500 businesses over three years and building a more inclusive city.”

As seen in WWD

With Preparation and Delegation, Entrepreneurs Can Enjoy Their Summer Vacation

I contributed to this article in Huffington Post via YEC:

Warming weather — and students out of school — mean more employees will be out seeking some down time in order to unwind with family and friends away from the office. As business slows, it offers a chance for company leaders to step away from the office for a little while and recharge. This is important, as going top speed all the time is detrimental to both health and success. Letting go, though, isn’t easy: It requires both preparation and delegation. Here are some ways entrepreneurs can ensure they can take that summer vacation.

A. Treat Your Company Like a Pet, not a Baby

Your company isn’t a baby, it’s more like a pet. You can leave it at home for a few hours. You can have someone else watch it for a week while you’re away. If you’re too precious with it and holding it too tightly, you’re not really able to take care of yourself and have time away, which is essential. - Rachel BeiderMassage Greenpoint, Massage Williamsburg

A. Delegate and Trust Your Team

Delegation is the name of the vacation game. Too many times owners simply don’t understand how important true delegation is, and instead they give their managers and staff very few responsibilities. Your team should be able to run the business in your absence; if you leave and the business falls apart, you’re failing as an owner. Delegate and trust your team, and take the break you deserve. - Blair ThomaseMerchantBroker

A. Don’t Be Indispensable

No team member should be indispensable. Business experts talk about the bus factor or key person risk of a business: How many people would have to be hit by a bus for the business to be in trouble? Entrepreneurs should make sure their business’s bus factor is as high as possible. If there is redundancy for every role, taking a vacation shouldn’t be a problem. - Vik PatelFuture Hosting

A. Leverage Your Mental Prime Time

The key to taking a summer vacation as an entrepreneur is to be extremely productive with your work time. Identify when you are the most productive, and focus on the tasks that are the highest priority to complete during that time. To do so, eliminate distractions — such as calls and emails — and instead use the time you are at your mental best to accomplish your most important tasks. - Doug BendBend Law Group, PC

A. Get Stuff Done Ahead of Time

Get as much work done as possible before your planned vacation. Assign out all of your responsibilities to specific employees. Let your vendors and other business contacts know that you’ll be away so they don’t think you’re ignoring them while you’re gone. Wrap up any loose ends right before you leave, and enjoy. - Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance

A. Put a Few Vacations on the Calendar

I always need to cancel a couple of vacations a year. During the summer, I’ll put a couple of weeks and a few long weekends on the calendar with the expectation that I’ll need to cancel one or more of them. Putting the dates on the calendar early gives me a much higher chance of success. Another tactic that works: Book an international flight! - Mitch GordonGo Overseas

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A. Schedule Work and Launches Before or After Summer

Summer is really a good time to take a vacation for entrepreneurs because their audience may be less likely to be around during that time anyway. The fall, winter, and spring are ideal for product launches, promotions and other significant business activity. When you look at the year in quarters, you can easily carve out vacation time in the summer. - Zach BinderRanklab

A. Conduct a Trial Run

So you’ve built your business from the ground up, never taken a day off, and you’re unsure what will happen if you take a vacation. Work to set up procedures so your team knows how to handle everything without you. Work “on” your business, not “in” it. Then test it! Conduct a trial run by taking one or two days off, and let your team prove themselves. After that, progressively lengthen the time you’re gone. - Kyle GoguenPawstruck

A. Play the Role of Traffic Cop, but Don’t Create Work

I’ve tried to have vacations where I completely unplug, but I find that I’m stressed knowing that work is piling up. My new approach is to play traffic cop. I don’t “create work:” i.e., I won’t start a new project. But I stay connected and make sure to unblock the team. If they need me, I’m responsive. And if an outsider needs help, I direct them to the right employee. - Aaron SchwartzModify Watches

A. Turn Off Email Notifications

It’s important that when you’re taking a vacation that you really take one. If you instead spend most of your vacation time checking your emails and worried about the status of the business while you’re away, you’re not giving yourself the break that you need. Being better at your job depends on finding balance, so it’s important to make that balance possible. - Kelsey MeyerInfluence & Co.

A. Respect Your Boundaries

Internally respecting your own boundaries will help your clients and associates respect your boundaries too. Once you learn that a break gives you mental space and improves your productivity, you’ll give vacations a priority. No one can operate at a high level of productivity all the time. Recognize that breaks will only help, and make sure you have a clear plan for delegation. - Marcela De VivoBrilliance

A. Relax and Let Go

It’s more of a mental thing versus logistics. It’s letting go, realizing you need the break and that business will carry on without you. There’s always a will if you look hard enough. Most entrepreneurs believe it can’t go on without them, but really can for a week or even longer. Get over that belief and enjoy the time off. - Drew HendricksButtercup

Rachel Beider featured in Entrepreneur Magazine

5 Stories That Will Make You Rethink Your Leadership Style

CEOs speak candidly of times they fumbled on the job, and what they learned in the process. Originally posted here

When he first became a business leader, admits Krister Ungerboeck, CEO of Courageous Growth, in St. Louis, Mo., he was a bit of a jerk. “I assumed that the CEO should be the smartest person in the room,” Ungerboeck told me recently via email.

Related: 22 Qualities That Make a Great Leader

That was a mistake, Ungerboeck now acknowledges. Thanks to that mentality, he says, he tended to lead through criticism, he says. And that in turn led him to doubt the abilities of his team, and created an unproductive work environment.

But after receiving less-than-stellar feedback on an employee survey, Ungerboeck says he realized his leadership style wasn’t working. “When I finally realized that my leadership style left my employees struggling to feel inspired, I made a major transformation,” he wrote. “I learned that criticism is lazy leadership that is intended to pump up the ego of the boss by making the employee feel smaller.”

Since that epiphany, Ungerboeck has tried to do better by leading through encouragement. In fact, he now refers to himself as a “recovering a-hole.”

While his employees are now better off for the change, Ungerboeck is hardly the first boss to rethink his or her leadership style. Here are five stories of how other leaders came to realize they needed to do things differently:

Always be learning.

By his mid-20s Glenn Phillips was an award-winning entrepreneur. There was just one little problem: His software company wasn’t making money.

“While we delivered great systems and support, we were not profitable and I was not addressing the problem well,” Phillips told me. “I thought that I was smart enough and hard-working enough to ‘figure it out’ and solve our issues.”  

Related: 9 Ways to Recognize a Real Leader

Eventually, though, Phillips realized he needed help. “I started educating myself about running a business,” he said. “The education included peers, classes and lots of reading. I studied businesses, cognitive thinking, sales, capital and more.”

Soon, his business began to turn around. Today, as the head of Lake Homes Realty in Pelham, Ala., he says he makes continual learning a priority for everyone at his organization. He says he hosts regular lunch-n-learns at the office and leads in-person trainings. The company even has a reading library, and if an employee finishes one of the books, Phillips takes that individual out to lunch to discuss what was learned.

Leadership takeaway: Set a good example for employees by constantly seeking new knowledge. This will ensure that your entire company will always be learning and improving. Tools like Workramp can help your team reach its potential.

Accept your new role.

When Rachel Beider, CEO of Massage Williamsburg + Massage Greenpoint in Brooklyn, N.Y., set out to expand her business, she quickly saw she was spreading herself too thin.

“I was trying to do too much, including still seeing massage therapy clients directly, and being involved in the day-to-day tasks,” she told me recently through email. “I started to feel perpetually stressed and burned out, and I knew I wasn't giving my best to the position.”

That’s when Beider set a deadline for herself so she couldn’t make excuses and put off the change. “Though it was a scary transition, it has allowed me a lot more time to work on important things and see the bigger picture," she wrote. "I had to learn to delegate. Now, I'm a lot more 'present' at work, with less on my plate, and open to more suggestions on improving the company.”

Leadership takeaway: First-time CEOs often need time to adjust to their new responsibilities. And it can be hard to give up old tasks that feel comfortable. But, as a leader, it’s important that you step up and accept the fact that it’s time to stop spending energy on things others can do, and focus on running the organization.

Be adaptable.

“When I had five or six employees, I managed them all the same,” Beck Bamberger, founder of Bam Communications, in San Diego, Calif. said in an email.

That worked for a while, she said, but once the company grew to dozens of employees, she saw she’d have to adapt. “There was one particular client meeting where I noticed a highly independent, quiet but well-liked employee was not taking my feedback as well as a bubbly, vivacious employee,” Bamberger went on to say.

What he told her, though, just didn’t seem to click. “We had this awkward pause in the meeting where we sat in silence for nearly 20 seconds before we started (thankfully) laughing. Then I said, ‘Okay, you're different from her.’ This was a little a-ha moment for me in terms of leadership that was adaptable for each individual.”

Leadership takeaway: Not every employee responds the same way to the same leadership style. Great leaders recognize each individual’s needs and adapt accordingly. This ensures that every employee can perform at his or her best.

Think quickly.

“A few years ago, when my companies were just starting out, my employees or potential business partners would ask me questions, and I would let them linger for a long time rather than answering them right away,” said Tony Jakstis, founder of Casa De Lago Event Centers, in Orange, Calif.

Not wanting to make a bad decision, Jakstis took his time coming up with the best answer. But, sometimes, stalling can mean missing out on big opportunities. “A good leader needs to be able to hear any kind of problem or opportunity and make a key decision that will benefit the company,” Jakstis said. “If it fails and something goes wrong, then at least I’ll find out quicker. If I’m right, the job will be done.”

Leadership takeaway: Don’t be afraid to be decisive. Even if a decision doesn’t turn out as planned, see that not as a failure, but a chance to learn.

Find support.

Danielle Wiley, CEO of Sway Group, in Corte Madera, Calif., never wanted to be a leader, she says. Nonetheless, she found herself at the helm of a fast-growing company.

“With the rocketship success that Sway saw in its first few years, my own personal leadership growth couldn't keep up,” she wrote in an email. “We were no longer a small company, but one that 35 employees' livelihoods depended on.”

The weight of that responsibility led Wiley to isolate herself -- and her team to suffer as a result. “I knew I needed to do better, I just didn't know how,” she told me.

Around this time,the executive attended a dinner for women executives. She was at the same table as a woman who kept talking about a CEO advisory group that she had joined. Wiley decided to give the group a go.

Related: How to Retain Employees Through 'Servant' Leadership

“At my first meeting, I quickly realized this group was exactly what I needed," she said. "I began to see that my concerns and frustrations were the same other CEOs were experiencing. The group gave me a newfound sense of confidence and direction that I was able to bring back to the team.”

Leadership takeaway: Being a CEO is an experience unlike anything else. Finding others going through similar situations can provide much needed support and guidance.