Why do women CEOs falter at the $1 million threshold?
In terms of growth in business ownership, women have been soaring past men, averaging increases 1.5 times the national average, according to the 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report by American Express Open. There are nearly 9.1 million women-owned businesses providing jobs for nearly 7.9 million people and generating more than $1.4 trillion, according to the report.
Leading the skyrocketing growth are women of color, who now own one of every three female-owned businesses – up from one in six in 1997. Black women alone generate $49.5 billion a year in revenue. “What’s interesting is that these businesses match or exceed their peers in terms of numbers, employment and revenue – until they hit the $1 million mark,” says Dr. Venus Opal Reese, CEO of Defy Impossible, Inc. (www.DefyImpossible.com), a coaching business that helps black women — and men and women of all ethnicities — break the seven-figure ceiling.
“At $1 million, they start lagging behind. Despite their bigger-than-average numbers, women’s businesses are still smaller than average.” Reese says female CEOs black and white tend to unconsciously start sabotaging their success just as they’re growing into greatness. Why? “From the time we’re babies, society – often our own families, too — measure our worth based on how we measure up to their expectations. So we end up measuring our value on those same expectations, not the values that come from our true, authentic self. That sets up some real conflicts as we build successful businesses,” Reese says. How to overcome that? To “defy impossible”? Reese, who went from living on the streets as a teen in Baltimore to earning her Ph.D. from Stanford, shares these tips:
- Know your worth in dollars and cents
Most women tend to accept the unspoken expectation that people will notice and reward us. That’s a mistake. If you over-give or over-work, you actually train your environment to expect you to give without compensation. Start calculating the time, money and resources you bring (or save) your clients or company. Write it down. When you are ready to up your rates or ask for a raise, you will not be depending on good will. You will have hard data to back up your hard work.
- Trust that you are more than enough
Too often we look outside of ourselves for validation. Sometimes we think a degree or a title will give us the “right” to be paid top dollar. You are brilliant. Start noticing that when you show up, things get better, they get done, and people soar. When you trust that you are enough, you stop backing down and you start standing for yourself — no credential needed.
- Heal your heart
Money is a heart condition. Think of money as energy. Energy needs a conduit. Most women lead with our hearts. Whenever you are harboring resentment, regret, anger, resignation or fear, you are blocking yourself from your seven-figure future. When our hearts are congested with negative energy, we block our wealth.
- Invest in yourself
As her business grew, there came a point when Reese realized she – and it – had outgrown many of the support staff that had been perfectly suitable when she was just starting out. To get the people she needed, she doubled and, in some cases, quadrupled salaries. “I believe in putting money in me instead of on me,” she says. “When I hire proven professionals, I am investing in my peace of mind and quality time with my loved ones. When you ‘hire up,’ you say to yourself and the Universe, ‘I trust you and I trust me to produce a return on this investment tenfold.’ “Now that I have a top-tier team, I have the mental space, creativity, and peace of mind to focus on high-level joint ventures.”
- Learn how to monetize
Until you can reliably bring in new money, you will be a slave. The best investment Reese says she ever made in herself was learning how to package, position, and price her expertise. “When you learn how to monetize, you get freedom. You don’t have to depend on a man, or a job, or the government for security. And when you learn how to close sales with confidence, your money skyrockets!”