Our Impact

Spotlight Series: Women Entrepreneurship in Greater Boston

Posted by Haley Glenn on April 06, 2020

JPMorgan Chase and Mel Robbins share their insights into supporting female entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in the Greater Boston region and beyond.

In the fall of 2018, American Express released a report, aptly titled “The State of Women Owned Businesses… and the results show that Boston has a lot of room for improvement. From 2007-2018, women-owned businesses grew by nearly 60% in the country overall. But in Massachusetts, they only grew by 20%, making Boston 48 out of 50 in the rankings for growth of women-owned firms in the largest U.S. metro areas. Much of the growth of women-owned businesses has been driven by women of color, who account for 47% of all women-owned businesses.

While growth is promising, there are still inherent challenges facing female entrepreneurs. One such obstacle is the funding gap. Forbes reported that while women-led startups makeup half the startups that participate in accelerators, “male-led startups increase the amount of equity they raise post-acceleration by 2.6 times as much as startups with a female founder.” Some of this is based on investor bias and perceived risk.

This report and ongoing coverage of challenges female founders face is a call to action. JPMorgan Chase reports on how their company answered the call.

Supporting the Expansion of Women-Run Businesses

An example of large corporations helping to provide women with opportunities to succeed personally and professionally is JPMorgan Chase’s “Women on the Move” Program. The program aims to serve women-owned or women-run businesses at all stages of development. Acknowledging the unique challenges women face the program helps them grow their businesses by providing greater access to capital, leading advisory services, and networking opportunities.

Andrea Lisher, the CEO and Head of North America Global Funds at J.P. Morgan says, “women currently control 40-45% of private wealth in the U.S. and the number is growing.” This program will help propel women forward and enable them to take the risks needed to become a successful entrepreneur.

JPMorgan Chase Institute’s President & CEO Diana Farrell says the program, “helps leaders make more informed choices to lead to prosperity.” She adds that while women-owned businesses represent only 30% of the sector (a statistic that has remained flat since 2013), they are most concentrated in the healthcare and personal services where small business policy isn’t as focused. They also tend to grow more slowly than their male counterparts, but are just as likely to succeed. In fact, women build in more of a revenue buffer for their businesses, which makes them more bulletproof in tough economic times.

The Women on the Move Program has three main focus areas.

1. Expand Women-Run Businesses 

Enable women to grow their businesses, from startups to global enterprises. Provide greater access to capital, networking,  expertise, and other resources.

2. Improve Women’s Financial Health 

Provide education and tools to increase the financial health and independence of women in our communities. By increasing their financial acumen, we aim to help women feel more confident about their financial futures.

3. Empower Women’s Career Growth 

Support female employees across all levels, regions and departments by providing an inclusive culture, growth  opportunities, coaching, leadership training, and family-friendly policies and benefits. Our ultimate goal is to propel more women into leadership positions across the firm.

In 2018, JPMorgan Chase pledged to lend $10 billion in new credit to women-led businesses in the U.S. by the end of 2021. As of June 2019, it is ahead of pace with nearly $2 billion in new loans and lines of credit extended. 

To learn more, check out: www.jpmorganchase.com/WOTM

Women Entrepreneurs Boston (WE Boston) is another great example of an organization that is providing women access to entrepreneurship through technical training and networking opportunities.

We hope all women with entrepreneurial ambitions will seek out the help of these (or similar) organizations to get started, or for the supported needed along the way.

And now for some great advice from entrepreneurial powerhouse Mel Robbins.

Succeeding as a Female Entrepreneur: Staying Connected, Positive and Flexible

If you are from the Boston area, listen to Audible podcasts, or watch daytime TV, it’s likely you are already familiar with powerhouse female entrepreneur Mel Robbins. Raised by two entrepreneurs she’s said before that it “never dawned on me that I wouldn’t at some point do my own thing.” She’s gone on to build three companies, she operates a production business, and speaks around the country. She writes books and builds content through online courses and partnerships (like the three audio books she’s built so far for Audible – make sure to check out Work It Out, a podcast covering five coaching sessions with women and the new rules around work). And that’s not it – she also has her television show.

For women aspiring to start even one small side hustle, the empire that Mel has built may seem like a dream. She shares with the Boston community some actionable advice that just may help you take the first step:

  • The worst mistake you can make is to jump too soon into being an entrepreneur and put crazy pressure on your personal life. Do the simple calculation of how much money you need to survive if you “lived lean” for a bit. Once you have six months cushion in savings, or a business that produces the minimum needed for three consecutive months, you have a predictable process and are ready to take the risk to step into entrepreneurship full-time.
  • There are many ways to create something of your own. There are both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs (movers and shakers within organizations). Both types know that nothing will go according to plan. The most wildly successful entrepreneurs have the flexibility to roll with unforeseen circumstances and changes in direction.
  • Make time to be with other small business owners. Entrepreneurship can be very isolating, and if you are always working on your business you miss the opportunity to stay connected with and to learn from others.
  • A positive mindset is the most important thing in business. Have the mindset to see solutions instead of problems and believe they will work. Strive to be realistically optimistic, which means accepting where you are now, but doing the work to change for the better. You can choose what you think about and control what thoughts you allow into your mind. When you embrace the idea you aren’t stuck, don’t take things personally or be negative – your whole life changes.

We celebrated Women’s History month over the course of the month of March, but we want to remember the contributions of the women that have made impacts on our history and society for the rest of the year! When future generations look back at the 2020's, will they read your name in their history books?

Let’s work together to empower all women with aspirations of entrepreneurship so that 50 years from now women-owned business are not the minority and we close the investing gap to give all women the chance to grow and prosper.