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Exclusive Interview with ERPS Group CEO/Chief Financial Consultant, Ella Rivkin

Exclusive Interview with ERPS Group CEO/Chief Financial Consultant, Ella Rivkin

New York City based, full-service accounting firm, ERPS goal is to help individuals, professionals, and businesses maintain financial stability as they grow their assets and plan for the future. ERPS provides assistance in estate aligning, retirement and trust planning, wealth management, and money-saving services for individuals. For businesses, the company assists with taxes, payroll, insurance, HR, benefits, and more. Today, we have the pleasure of interviewing ERPS Co-Founder, CFO, and CEO, Ella Rivkin to get her insight on tax preparation and filing tips for small business owners.

Excel Capital Management: Hello, Ella. Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed by Excel! To get started, tell us a little about yourself, how you got into the accounting industry, and your company, ERPS.

Ella Rivkin: I came to this country at a young age, chasing a dream just like many before me. I found myself very proficient in helping others and while growing up, and I knew that finance was a field that would strongly interest me. I began looking for work in the financial field while in school in order to gain experience. Eventually, I found myself working in an accounting office where I began to learn the necessary skills I bear today. After many years, I was finally presented the opportunity to open up my very own office, E.R.P.S. Inc. where I could finally utilize all my years of experience to help others chasing their business goals.

 

ECM: How can small business owners use your services at ERPS for their business finances?

E.R.: What makes E.R.P.S. stand out from others is that we develop strong business relationships with small business owners in order to establish successful networks and a beneficial support system for the owners. We are there to address any concerns the owners might have regarding their day-to-day operations and it is with this help that we are able to attract new clients that add to our growing community.

ECM: It is important for business owners to have a strong working relationship with their accountant. What are topics business owners should constantly discuss with their accountant, and how often should meetings be set up?

E.R.: After many years, I have advised many owners on how to better their business and succeed. It is important to address key topics that many fail to see. Some of these topics include careful handling of all business expenses so as to keep everything organized and manageable. Another important topic is keeping track of all employees and payroll information so as to not have any confusion within the organization. A well-organized account of everything going in and out of the company, whether it be assets, credits, etc. is key to maintaining the necessary structure of any business which hopes to prosper.

ECM: As you know, Excel Capital Management provides alternative financing solutions to small to mid-sized businesses. For a business owner that is in the market for a business loan, what advice would you give them before applying?

E.R.: Prior to applying for a loan of any kind, it is important to insure that everything in your company is up to date, financially, and that the business is ready to accept the responsibilities of said loan. I have seen many companies accept loans as a means of growing their business, whether big or small. A loan provides much needed support for a business, especially one that is looking to expand. By accepting a loan, it is important to monitor and stay on top of all its financial aspects, primarily due to the fact that if one loan is handled correctly, it allows for that business to receive additional, larger loans in the future which in turn helps the business even more.

ECM: Many businesses Excel funds continue to apply for additional working capital over the business’ lifetime. Based on your expertise, what determines when business owners should reach out for working capital via an alternative lender such as Excel Capital Management?

E.R.: A company is only as successful if it keeps constantly looking for bigger and better things to make it stand out. Unfortunately, not every business owner is capable of financially providing the necessary funding for these ventures. There comes a point where the owner(s) exhausts every resource and their disposal and has no other place to turn to. In this situation, it is necessary to reevaluate the company and its potential success. If the company is in fact making progress towards its goals, then it is understandable to reach out to lenders and request additional funding. Reaching out to lenders like Excel makes it possible to continue expanding one’s business by attaining the much needed capital that allows for new equipment, new ideas, etc. necessary for corporate growth. There is a common saying, “You have to spend money to make money”—this couldn’t be more true!

ECM: Lastly, what is the most important accounting advice you would give to small business owners?

E.R.: It must be said that for any business to succeed in today’s day and age, it is necessary to have desire and determination as the driving factors. As an accountant, I must say that proper discipline and motivation is required when managing any business. There are always going to be obstacles along the way that make it seem impossible to overcome, but with proper leadership and organization, no obstacle will be too great. It is also important to maintain proper communication between the business owner and the accountant, because one cannot do their job without the other. Keeping your accountant up to date on all of your business ventures and operations is key, therefore the accountant must be provided with any and all necessary information about the business at all times.

For more on ERPS Group, visit: erpsgroup.com and be sure to “like” their official Facebook page: facebook.com/erpsinc.

3 Reasons Why Applications For Business Loan Get Declined

3 Reasons Why Business Loan Applications Get Declined By Traditional Lenders and Alternative Financing Solutions

Almost all business owners apply for some sort of financing to grow their company at one point or another. When it comes to applying for for this financing through a traditional bank or lender, the process can be a tough one, and many business owners walk away with a big fat decline. While this may be disheartening, there are many reasons why business loan applications get declined and lenders are so strict, and there are still other options out there. Let’s take a look at the three main reasons why business loan applications get declined by traditional banks and lenders, and then take a look at the great alternatives that are available!

Why Traditional Lenders Decline Business Loan Applications:

  • Low Cash Flow: If a traditional lender decides to give your business a loan, they will want to see the ability to make payments back on the loan amount in addition to covering all other business expenses. Unfortunately, tough times do occur where businesses don’t generate enough revenue at certain times of the year – maybe they are a seasonal business. Some business owners, such as contractors, aren’t paid until jobs are completed or they must pay inventory suppliers upfront before they get paid. Tight margins typically do not sit well with traditional lenders and you could get your business loan declined.
  • Poor Credit, Bad Credit, or No Credit: Like NorthShore Advisory Inc. Credit Expert Tracy Becker told us in our exclusive interview, “in today’s fast-paced business world, more partners, lenders, and potential accounts need to make quick decisions as to which suppliers, borrowers, and partners they want to work with; decision-makers use a variety of business credit scores, indexes, and reports to discard unqualified candidates from being considered for a partnership or a loan.” A business’ credit score is a major factor when a traditional lender considers approving them for financing. Poor credit, bad credit, or simply no credit can almost always guarantee a decline. To learn more about how businesses can improve their credit score, visit: http://www.northshoreadvisory.com/
  • No Collateral: Traditional banks and lenders almost always require some sort of collateral to secure a loan. Collateral can come in the form of a vehicle, personal or business property, equipment, and/or other assets. If a business owner defaults on the loan, this collateral will then be seized for nonpayment. Unfortunately, many business owners (especially young business owners or startups) do not have collateral to put up when it comes to acquiring a loan, or the lender may not deem anything the business owner has as anything of value.

Your Business Loan Application Got Declined By A Traditional Lender – What Are The Alternatives?

Despite the fact that traditional lenders can take weeks to process your loan application and also require a lot of paperwork, there are alternative financing solutions available if you got your business loan declined. Unlike big banks, alternative lenders typically only require you to submit a simple, one-page application, 4 months of recent bank statements, and 4 months of recent credit card processing statements in order to get an offer and approval in a matter of days! Let’s take a closer look at the alternative funding solutions available to your business so even if your business loan was declined your options are open!

Merchant Cash Advance: Short-term financing transactions that are collected through a set percentage of your visa and MasterCard sales that are accepted at your place of business. Probably the most common term used in the industry. These do not have a set repayment schedule and are based on the volume of your business’s credit card processing sales. These are usually only guaranteed by the future sales of your business.

ACH Advance: A form of a merchant cash advance that is repaid on a daily basis by direct ACH debits rather than a merchant account.   These are still a purchase of receivables and the amount debited via ach are determined by the amount of credit card processing sales that are batched out the previous day.

ACH Loan Products: These are a bit different than cash advances as they are considered loans and may have personal guarantees. They have a fixed repayment schedule that is paid either daily, weekly or monthly. These products are catered to industries that do not accept credit cards and need a fixed payment.

Accounts Receivables Financing: This is one of the oldest forms of funding in history. This is used mainly when a business is due some sort of capital for work complete and is billed on a net 30, 60 or 90. for example, ABC Trucking delivered goods for xyz logistics but only receives payment from xyz logistics in 60 days. ABC can then factor the money due from XYZ at discount to receive the capital due in 60 days today.

Invoice Factoring: The purchase of accounts receivable for immediate cash.

Equipment Financing: A type of loan or extension of credit to a business, with the purpose of helping the business acquire new equipment. Equipment Financing Extends only the capital needed to purchase a specific piece of equipment and is most commonly written as a lease.

Business Lines of Credit: A rotating loan that gives business owners access to a fixed amount of money, which they can use day-to-day according to their need for cash. Interest is only paid on the amount of the advance actually used.

Start-Up Funding/Loan: A type of loan that provides a new business/company with sufficient upfront capital to get off the ground.

Asset Based Loans: A business loan secured by collateral.

SBA LOANs 504 Loans: The US Small Business Administration 504 Loan or Certified Development Company program is designed to provide financing for the purchase of fixed assets, which usually means real estate, buildings and machinery, at below market rates.

Term Loans: A loan that is backed by a bank for an exact amount that has a specified repayment timetable and  interest rate that are adjusted accordingly. Terms mature between 1 and 10 years.

It’s pretty clear to see why an alternative lender may be the way to go when it comes to applying for financing for your business. No complicated application process, no lengthy paperwork and documents, and an approval in as little as 3 business days! For more information on alternative financing solutions and what Excel Capital Management can offer your business, visit: https://www.excelcapmanagement.com/loan-form/

Funding: Venture Capital vs. Working Capital

Funding: Venture Capital vs. Working Capital

Most business owners will apply for some sort of capital at least once over the business’ lifetime. This capital can be used for various reasons at various stages of the business life cycle: business start-up, expansion, equipment, purchases, hiring, etc.. When it comes to the growth of any business, money is essential.  What the capital is being used for determines just what type of capital it is – venture or working – and how one goes about acquiring it. No matter what though, as a business owner it is important to do your homework and know what type of funding you are applying for and how it can affect your bottom line in the long run. Let’s take a look at the difference between venture and working capital funding and the funding process for each.

VENTURE CAPITAL FUNDING

Venture Capital is normally sought after by up and coming business owners that are early in the life cycle of their endeavors  – startups and seed stage – but can also be used by business owners who are later in the business cycle but are looking to fund new ideas. If these types of business owners can’t get the money from a friend or family member who believes in their idea (business means big bucks, and a lot of times close acquaintances just can’t help out) they are usually able to do so through a Venture Capital investor who strongly backs their business plan. What complicates this process is the fact that most investors will want to see revenue generated for the long-term. They are now part owner and in it for the long haul just like the main business owner themselves, generally looking for a return of at least 5x their initial investment amount.  

Venture Capital investors or companies will analyze to see if there is a market for a business owner’s idea. If they feel that your business won’t be success, they most likely won’t take the risk of investing any money into it at all. Their goal is to see a big profit and have a hand in many major business decisions. It’s usually not simply a labor of love. Expect for investors to ask for a C-Level title and/or seat on your board of directors if you have one. At the very least, they will usually ask to be an “owner.” This results in relinquishing full control, ownership and an agreed upon percentage of future earning until you have enough capital to buy them out.

When it comes to qualifications, Venture Capital investors or companies typically only fund businesses in the amount of $1M or more, and also only fund specific industries which puts limitations on many business owners. They tend to look for big industry-specific companies with big, commercial ideas, a strong team, and some existing momentum and paying customers. This can be great, however, if you are just starting out, run a company on your own, or don’t necessarily have the plan to back up such a large sum of money, this can prove to be extremely overwhelming. Garage Technology Ventures, an early-stage venture capital funding company highlights the specifics of these qualifications in their article Critical Factors for Obtaining Venture Funding. Aside from all of  this, finding a reputable investor in itself can be a tough task. You should always do extensive research to ensure the investor has you and your business’ best interests at heart. Vivek Wadhwa’s article, Venture Capital: The Good, The Bad, and Ugly on Bloomberg.com highlights some other important factors when it comes to considering Venture Capital. Check it out.

WORKING CAPITAL FUNDING

Working capital is sought after by business owners for any number of reasons during any stage of the business’ lifetime – including the startup stage (normally lenders require a business must be operating for at least 3 months, but this can still be considered the startup stage). The capital is usually used for equipment purchases, new hires, expansion, inventory, and more. While lenders generally do care about the product or service the business offers, what business owners do with the capital (within reason) is their business. They are no way, shape or form now an owner after funding a company and don’t require that you list them as an owner, sponsor, or member of your board of directors. You make all of the business decision and once the funding is paid back their is no further obligations.

Typically, to qualify for working capital funding by a lender, a business owner must provide 4 months of recent bank and credit card statements (if applicable) to show their ability to pay back the advanced money. This capital acquired is generally structured as either a loan with fixed payback terms and fees or a purchase of future receivables at a discount rather than an investment expected to generate 5x the initial amount. Most business owners sleep a little better knowing this much and even reach out for additional capital numerous times over the course of their business’ lifetime. Lenders tend to develop genuine and trusting working relationships with many business owners and offer various financing solutions to work harmoniously with a business.

At Excel Capital Management, we offer many different financing products to help you obtain the Working Capital your business needs to grow! Our funding specialists will work diligently to ensure that you receive the best products available to achieve business success!
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How A Business Loan Helped a General Contractor in a Crunch

How A Business Loan Helped a General Contract in a Crunch

While the construction business is one of the oldest, most flourishing, and most competitive industries around, there comes a time when many of its business owners need access to working capital. The cost of equipment, materials, payroll, and slow turn-around rates trump the cash flow coming in, and many construction company owners find themselves weighed down by bills and overhead costs. Since the great recession of 2008, a traditional bank loan is no longer the go-to solution when it comes to acquiring capital. That old-school way of doing things sometimes ends in heartbreak due to waiting weeks just to receive an answer. That’s where the alternative financing industry comes into play!

With financing solutions such as the ever-popular Merchant Cash Advance, ACH Loan, Asset Based Loans, Equipment Financing, and more, access to working capital is easier than ever! There is no longer a stigma with taking a loan or any type of financing. Working capital is essential when it comes to growing a company of any kind, especially a construction company. Due to the cost of machines and equipment sometimes reaching well into hundreds of thousands of dollars, or the burden imposed by having contractors absorb the upfront costs when starting a job – such as the cost of construction materials like granite and wood – and not to mention, insurance costs and payroll for workers and employees, construction company owners should expect to reach out for capital at some point in their business’s lifetime. Some companies choose to do this more than once, and why not? If working capital is increasing your cash flow and allowing you to take on more jobs, it only makes sense to ask for more. Afterall, the goal most of us strive for is to ensure steady work flow and income for years to come.  

Recently, Marty, a construction company owner from Georgia reached out to my company, Excel Capital Management. Marty was in a crunch and in need of funds, and he needed them fast! With a handful of projects on his plate, along with receivables due to a form on a large ongoing project  not being paid on schedule, Marty asked us for working capital to be used towards the purchase of materials, construction equipment, licensing for projects to be completed, and payroll.  As you know, only a small fraction of projects pay upfront and most only payout in tranches after certain milestones are hit at. When workers and office employees expect to be paid, and materials need to be purchased, waiting for these payouts is not an option. In order to get things back on track, as well as to generate new growth, Marty asked our sales rep, Jordan Lindenbaum, for help in securing an ACH Loan Product – a short term funding product  paid on a daily or weekly basis by direct Automated Clearing House debits.

Marty’s situation was a tough one! He was owed close to $200,000 which was tied up and not coming in for at least thirty days, plus around $150,000 in retainage for completed contracts,  however, that was going to be payed out over six months. He also had both a  $2 million and a $1.5 million contract on the table respectively (both carrying a 20% gross profit), but those were not set in stone. Marty’s company had no time to wait with other projects lined up and needing to be completed by early 2016, however, they couldn’t be completed unless he had the means to hire more workers and purchase a few machines to keep up with the timelines in place. Obviously, without the aforementioned payouts, he was in a bind. To the Average Joe, these type of accounts receivable amounts seem amazing, but in the construction business, we know this revenue doesn’t always reflect the tangible finances. Most, if of not all, of the money is put back into the company to complete ongoing projects. Whether Marty could wait until his pay day or not – he needed some additional working capital, now.

After supplying us with a few bank statements, a business lease, his driver’s license, and a few other minimal stipulations, we were able to get Marty $80,000 in working capital in a matter of only two days! The daily repayment amount was only $400 per day – an ACH automatically debited (so Marty wouldn’t have to worry about making any large monthly payments – he could focus on his projects at hand) which would happen over the course of 12 months. It was as simple as that! No hassles or phone calls from banks, just a solid relationship with an alternative financing company, such as Excel Capital Management, and peace of mind.

Everyone needs a little help here and there, and there is no shame in asking for it. There’s more hope than ever for small to mid-sized businesses when it comes to acquiring working capital. Whether you need $5,000 or $5,000,000, there are options. Most of today’s top CEOs have taken loans or received working capital in order to grow their companies into multi million dollar corporations. You know the old saying. “It takes money to make money!”

Why Contractors Have Hard Time Getting Business Funding

construction loans

Even in a favorable economic climate, where housing starts are up, contractors have a hard time getting loans in the traditional sense but Excel specializes in Construction business loans.  Since no more so than ever banks view contractors as high-risk and they are subsequently far more selective when underwriting loans. The lack of financing options makes it difficult for many contractors to meet payroll obligations, purchase new equipment, and access capital when there is a lull between jobs or if payment from clients aren’t received in a timely fashion.

In most instances, the concern over the inherent risks of lending to contractors appears justified. In his book Analyzing Construction Contractors, Dev Strischek indicates that contractors have a higher failure rate than other small businesses and these failure rates only increase during economic downturns or recessions. It then becomes apparent, based on both the failure rate and the correlation with economic cycles, why contractors are considered high-risk.

Here are some of the additional reasons why small business owners and contractors might have a hard time securing financing through traditional channels:

  • Inconsistent Revenue or Cyclical Business – a business may depend on the weather, there might be downtime in between contracting jobs, or there could be a sustained recession that is having industry-wide impact
  • Home-based Business – lack of a traditional brick and mortar shop lends itself to the notion of a transitory or unstable business
  • Lack of Collateral – a contractor that works out of his or her home and leases the majority of their equipment may lack any assets that can be put up as collateral for loans
  • Bonding Obligations – contractors are often bonded. Banks recognize that these bonding agencies hold a legal claim on assets above any creditor should the business fail
  • Perceived Lack of Business Acumen – contractors may be highly skilled in their jobs, but the perception may be that they lack the marketing, bookkeeping, and business skills necessary to run a successful small business
  • Heavily Impacted by Downturns in the Market – as stated before, a contractors business is often directly tied to the state of the economy and, more precisely, the housing market

The lending practices of banks have left a definitive gap in the marketplace, but there have been third party institutions springing up to meet the needs of contractors and attempt to fill that gap. In her article “Online Banks Fill Funding Needs for Small Business,” author, and former SBA Chief, Karen Mills indicates that there is reason for optimism in the alternative financing realm. She states, “the outstanding portfolio balance of online lenders has grown about 175 percent a year.”

So it is not all doom and gloom for contractors. There are alternative options for securing loans. Here are just a few of the non-bank financing options available to contractors:

  • SBA – the Small Business Administration is not a direct lender. Instead, the SBA works with local banks to guarantee small business loans. Their guidelines are as restrictive as the banks, but a guarantee on a loan greatly increases the chances of contractors obtaining financing.
  • Online Banks – there are on-line banks that supplement the brick and mortar banks that offer additional opportunities to secure financing but typically have similarly restrictive lending practices.
  • Non-traditional Funding Sources – this is the greatest source of optimism for contractors. These online, non-traditional lending partners are changing the face of contractor financing. They include direct lending, peer-to-peer lending and even factoring companies.
  • Equipment Lease Options – if the proceeds of a loan are for the sole purpose of purchasing equipment, contractors should consider leasing as an option. Leasing requires less capital and can come in different term lengths to meet the specific needs of the contractor

Despite their relative small size, non-traditional and online funding sources have the potential to change completely the way contractors obtain financing. They focus on customer service, are more open regarding their requirements, and they ultimately foster greater competition for the contractors’ business. Some of these alternative lenders include Prosper, Lending Club, Excel Capital Management and Funding Circle.

To improve the chances of securing financing – whether it’s through traditional or non-traditional sources – contractors should focus on the following areas. Addressing each of the following will drastically increase the chances of success.

  • Be prepared to provide tax documentation and a well-maintained balance sheet
  • Define exactly how the money is to be used and how it will impact the business’ bottom-line going forward
  • Address a plan for market downturns by soliciting referrals, utilizing direct marketing, or focusing on a Social Media strategy. This approach will demonstrate a realization of the cyclical nature of the business and provide evidence that the owner is attempting to mitigate the impact.

Contractors and business owners need to recognize that, as with most present-day industries, the traditional lending model may no longer fit the market. Innovation has extended well beyond technology products to impact everything from taxi cabs to startup funding to grocery shopping. There has been innovation in small business lending as well, and contractors and business owners have begun to turn towards this burgeoning alternative funding market to finance their long-term success.

10 Reasons to Be Glad You’re a Woman Entrepreneur

10 Reasons to Be Glad You’re a Woman Entrepreneur

I’m glad I’m a woman.

Actually, I’m glad I’m a Woman entrepreneur, and you should be too.

I’ll tell you why in a minute.

For a moment I’m going to talk about all the things women in business already know:

We still live in a society where men are the typical, almost preferred, leaders in any type of industry.Surprisingly, women are often content to take a back seat rather than fight for position. We all know what it’s like to be labeled “THAT” type of woman! The one that charges over everyone to get to the top. The aggressive workaholic that would rather order people around than show compassion or a softer side for fear of being weak.

The glass ceiling is alive and well. While we’ve made some progress in this area, women still don’t get paid the same wage as men for doing the same job. Worse yet, often women aren’t even given the opportunity to fill those positions “reserved” for men. For years I’ve worked in the private sector – new home construction. As you might imagine, the construction industry is definitely very old school and very much still a “Good Old Boys Club.”

When I started there over 28 years ago, I had high aspirations of becoming an officer of the company and made my plans known all the way to the top. There was one woman in that position which gave me confidence it was possible to achieve with dedication and hard work. So, I put in my time, became an expert in almost every facet of the organization, earned the respect of my co-workers and management, and even made some money for the company through innovative suggestions. Watching promotions go to men within the organization over the years was disheartening, but there was still that one woman in a leadership position. The only problem – she never seemed to do anything remotely involved in decision-making for the company. She, too, did her job well but never embraced the role of leader. Well, she retired this year. What surprised me the most while attending the going away lunches and parties in her honor, was that never once was it mentioned that she was Corporate Secretary for almost 40 years. Then it struck me, the officer position she held was merely an attempt at political correctness; to, at least on the surface, appear to be a forward-thinking company. Last week the president sent out a call to action to his all-male management team. In it, he listed eight employee names in consideration for the vacant officer’s seat. My heart skipped a beat. Surely, now was my chance. Of course, you guessed it, my name wasn’t on the list. Among the eight names were six men and two women. Another skipped heartbeat with the possibility that some other woman might make it to that honored status. The candidates? A woman who has been with the company for four months and the other in poor health and close to retirement. The all-male management team will vote next week. What do you think will happen?

Women don’t ask…for help, for money, for anything that is going to make them appear less independent. There have been a number of studies to substantiate this point. Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon University indicates the main reason women still earn approximately 78 cents to every dollar men earn, is their unwillingness to negotiate for higher pay. Data shows that men are also four times more likely to ask for a salary raise than women, leaving thousands of dollars in unearned income on the table.

A brave and talented childhood friend shared a story about her very slow rise to success. She’s a buyer at a prominent fashion retailer in New York City today, but it was a hard-fought battle that brought her there. Molly was always considered the “fashionista” of our tight-knit group of BFFs. You know the type, the pretty little thing that could pull off mismatched knee socks (before it was popular), layer-upon-layer of everything in her closet, top it off with her favorite scarf and call it her “style.” Somehow, she made it work every time. When she grew up, no one was surprised that she pursued a career in fashion. She put in the work, got her degrees, and finally felt ready to tackle the world. The only problem…she was a large talent in a small town. After years of searching for the perfect job and making minimum wage in her comfortable home town, she realized that her opportunities were limited. She jumped from one boutique to the next with little chance for growth. She told me that the male-dominated retail industry in our cozy community left little room for her fashion-forward ideas. To them, she had amazing potential as their head sales clerk, because she was cute and friendly.

Molly finally had enough. She took a leap of faith and headed to the Big City. With no job, no place to live and just a little bit of savings, she got on a bus and headed east. Can you imagine? Molly found out the hard way that if she wanted fame and fortune, she had to reach for it. It was risky, but worth it in the end. Her only regret? That she waited so many years before making the move.

You might be thinking that these are isolated instances or limited to certain industries, but that’s not the case. Consider the female-dominated nursing profession – in a field where women outnumber men 10:1, you’d think the women would have an overall advantage, especially in earnings. Nope. According to the latest Census data available from 2011, female nurses earned 7 percent less than male nurses. The phenomenon where men earn higher wages, obtain faster promotions and concentrate on achieving positions in the highest-earning segments of their field even encroaches into the healthcare industry.

Does any of this sound familiar? While I don’t really consider myself much of a feminist, I am convinced that in order to break stereotypes that still exist in business today, real change has to start young. And there are initiatives that are working toward this goal. For example, the Girl Scouts have adopted a “Win-Win” badge where girls are required to accomplish a series of negotiation skills to earn it. In addition, researchers at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley have identified empathy as a critical skill needed to reinforce stronger interpersonal connections, better collaboration and team building from childhood through adulthood. Preschool and other childhood educational programs are being geared toward early adoption of these skills for both boys and girls.

It’s a start; and hopefully future women entrepreneurs will find a more balanced playing field. Already statistics are showing improvement with an increase in the number of women-operated businesses and financing options available for all small business ventures.

Okay, now I’ll tell you why I’m glad I’m a Woman entrepreneur.

While I’m always going to root for the underdog, being considered one just makes me mad. It would be nice to have a fair playing field in business, but life’s not fair. Being an entrepreneur has taught me to be a problem-solver when faced with obstacles. Being a woman entrepreneur has given me practice.

And I’m not alone. Statistics from a 2014 Womenable-authored report published by American Express OPEN confirmed there were close to 9.1 million women-owned firms, generating over $1.4 trillion in revenues in the United States. Between 1997 and 2014, the number of women-owned enterprises increased by 68 percent – the fastest growing segment among all others over that period. Think about that for a minute. Are you surprised? I was.

There are a number of areas in which women excel, and that, if used properly in business, should give them an edge over their male competitors. I’ll list the top 10 reasons I’m happy to belong to this group, but feel free to add your own.

  • Key demographic. As part of a growing market niche, my company will receive targeted incentives, discounts and offers in an effort to capture my business. Marketing 101 teaches students to focus advertising dollars on growing segments of a particular demographic to achieve maximum return on investment. I love all the extra attention, and it’s a great opportunity to test out my negotiation skills.
  • Someone to ask. At the risk of being a little stereotypical myself, I always laugh when I hear jokes about men never asking for directions – because it’s true. While I understand there are tools and equipment out there to get you where you need to go, I’m happy that I don’t have to take this entrepreneurial journey alone anymore. With the growing numbers of women in business, my ability to ask for advice, and a willingness of many who have gone before me to share their experiences, the road to success will be a lot smoother.
  • Excellent multi-taskers. While the term may be passé, the ability to juggle many things at once is not. Let’s admit it, women often overextend themselves because they can. While I would like to focus my efforts on just one thing occasionally, I really am proud that I’m capable of managing multiple tasks simultaneously. Besides, I never get bored.
  • Great communicators. Being a woman entrepreneur opens up many opportunities where my voice can finally be heard. Remember, I’m part of a growing demographic, so I can talk or write all day and everyone will listen.
  • Passionate. I’ve often heard people say that women are too emotional to be successful business owners. What? The reason I started my business in the first place was because I was passionate about it. I’m excited to belong to a group that cares deeply about making a difference in the world, even if it means shedding a tear every once in awhile.
  • Embrace the gray area. I know there are women business owners that do everything “by the book” and follow a straight path toward reaching their goals. The difference between men and women, though, is the gray area. Most of the men I’ve worked with in leadership positions like black and white answers. In other words, they want a yes or a no. They don’t want to hear the details or an explanation – the gray area. Luckily, I know that some of the best solutions are lurking in the shadows.
  • Innovative. Obviously, this reason isn’t only reserved for women entrepreneurs; there are many innovative men. Women have a unique perspective on life and how the world works. Creative ideas are often borne from empathy or a desire to improve the world around us. The nurturing component of a woman’s DNA may often lead to new ideas.
  • Problem-solvers. Think quick! Your alarm didn’t go off this morning, you’re running late for a meeting, your car’s gas gauge is on empty and you only have $2 in your wallet. What would you do? The answer doesn’t really matter. The fact that you figured out a solution has proven my point.
  • Perseverance. While many women-owned businesses may struggle or even fail, I’m always impressed by the stamina and the ability of most to try again. The path to running a successful enterprise is rarely without obstacles. Learning from the challenges we encounter and continuing to push forward are powerful tools I’m proud to possess.
  • Alternative financing options. With the number of women-owned businesses increasing every day, funding opportunities to keep those businesses running and growing are changing and expanding. Women entrepreneurs are no longer limited to traditional resources and may find better choices through alternative financing to fit their immediate and long-term needs. The top funding options for women with established businesses now include: Traditional bank loans, secure Small Business Administration-guaranteed loans, financing assistance from family and friends, home equity loans, trading future earnings, crowdfunding, angel investors and venture capitalists. In addition, there are more alternative financing options available such as Merchant Cash Advance, Revenue-Based Factoring and Asset-Based Lending that offer easy application and approval processes, no credit or collateral requirements and fast disbursement options.

Of course, I haven’t listed all the financing options available to small business owners – male or female. It’s possible you could win the lottery or find a bag of money on your front porch. More than likely, you’ll need to be resourceful, tenacious and a problem-solver. In other words, be yourself. There are always going to be challenges in business. Just understand that you’re not alone, and there will always be an answer. With alternative funding solutions available from Excel Capital Management, you’ll never have to worry about accessing the cash you need for upcoming expenses, and instead, you can focus on your success.

    See, now aren’t you glad you’re a Woman entrepreneur too?