White House Women’s Entrepreneurship Conference: Opening Session

White House Women’s Entrepreneurship Conference: Opening Session


Ms. Tchen:
Well, welcome to the
White House. Good afternoon. My name is Tina Tchen. I am the director of
the White House Office of Public Engagement. And I also have the privilege
of serving as the executive director of the White House
Council of Women and Girls, which is the host for today’s
White House Conference on Women’s Entrepreneurship. We are thrilled to have you here
to highlight the importance of women entrepreneurs. I actually have just
returned from Gifu, Japan, where last Friday, I had the
honor of representing the president at the first
ever Summit on Women’s Entrepreneurship held by
the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group. It was hosted jointly
by our government and the government of Japan. And there, we heard
representatives from the 21 economies
that make up APEC. Where they heard from
women entrepreneurs, just like yourselves, and
discussed — where those women discussed the
challenges they faced; many that are so similar to the
challenges that we face here in the United States. And when I told them that
we would be convening this conference, here, today at
the White House they cheered. So our efforts are really linked
with women entrepreneurs around the world each working to
fulfill their own dreams and building and strengthening
their own economies. So we have a busy day planned
today so here — I’m going to give you a little overview. We are going to begin with a
keynote address from my boss, Valerie Jarrett, senior
advisor to the President, who is also chair of
the White House Council on Women and Girls. She will be followed by our
outstanding Administrator; the Small Business
Administration, Karen Mills. And then you will hear from
a panel and some of whom are here on the stage already. They include Bobby
Brown, who is the CEO of Bobby Brown Cosmetics. (applause) Theresa Daytner who is the CEO
of the Daytner Corporation. (applause) Maria Johns, who is the deputy
administrator of the Small Business Administration. (applause) And Doctor Rebecca Blank who
is the under Secretary for the Department of Commerce. (applause) And the empty chair is for Mika
Brzezinski, who is on her way. Following the panel, you all
will be split up into breakout session so we can hear from you
and learn from you about what’s working and what else
needs to be done. Each discussion will be lead by
a member of our administration together with someone
from the private sector. Look on your nametags. The room numbers where you are,
are on the nametags and after we break up you can look for my
staff who will be there to guide you to where in this
building you need to go. And then following the break
up, you will all come back here. You will hear report outs from
each of your session so that we can learn from that and we
will hear a closing from Administrator Mills. So with that I would like to
bring to the podium my dear friend, my boss, someone with
whom it’s just a pleasure and a privilege to work with
every day, Valerie Jarrett. (applause) Ms. Jarrett:
Tina knows what a klutz I am. I said I’m going to try not to
break my neck when I walk over. Good afternoon, everybody. We are just delighted
to have you here. And on behalf of the White House
Council on Women and Girls, I welcome you to
the White House. I want to thank my colleagues
from the Small Business Administration, from the Federal
Reserve Bank and from the departments of Treasury and
Commerce and SBA for their help in organizing
today’s event. I also want to thank Bobby
Brown, Theresa Daytner, Maria Johns and Dr. Blanks, all
who are just icons within our world and who we are delighted
to have on the panel as well. They’ll be more fully
introduced to you shortly. And of course, I want to
recognize in absentia Mika Brzezinski for
moderating the panel. I was just e-mailing with
Mika, and Mika is never late, I want everybody to know. And, in fact, she got up this
morning and left the set of “Morning Joe” in order
to get here on time. But as everybody knows,
the weather is terrible, and her train was late. And so she’s on her way, but
she’ll be here any second. So without her here, I want to
say I have an enormous amount of respect for her. I think that having her here
really helps to extend the reach of this event, and it raises
the profile of the importance of this event to women
entrepreneurs and what that means to our
overall economy. And both Mika and her partner
on the show, Joe Scarborough, have really used their platform
to highlight important issues facing America, from education
last week to exercise — we all walked around the Mall a few
weeks ago — to broadcasting live from Pensacola,
Florida, focusing on the Gulf restoration. And so we really want to
congratulate them for using that platform to lift
up important issues. Now, Joe is always late,
so we’re not surprised that he’s not here. He actually e-mailed, too. He’s on the train, and he said
he wanted to be here from the beginning because he knew that
I was going to tease him, which, of course, I was
looking forward to do. But he doesn’t have to be
here for me to tease, Joe. (laughter) But in seriousness, I
will say this about Joe. He has been very supportive of
Mika and having somebody whose show it is show support
for his partner is really important as well. And so without him here, I can
say he’s been terrific as well, and we’re glad that he’s coming. And when he gets here, we’ll
just tease him all over again. So we’re here today because
President Obama knows what a crucial role women
entrepreneurs play in our overall economic health. And supporting women-owned small
business is a very important part of the many steps that the
president has taken to rebuild our economy and to
strengthen it for the future. He’s used the recovery act to
help us pull us back from the economic brink of disaster. He’s achieved the most
sweeping financial reforms since the Great Depression. He has launched the National
Export Initiative to help U.S. companies compete in emerging
markets and to support U.S. businesses that want
to sell their goods and services overseas. Later today, the president
is going to be meeting with his Economic Recovery
Advisory Board, and they’re going to discuss the
launching of a new initiative, Skills for America’s Future. And it’s a part of our new
effort to partner the public and the private sector to
ensure that we work together to strengthen our workforce
by preparing Americans for the jobs of the future. And then tomorrow, Dr. Biden,
together with President Obama will be hosting our first- ever
White House Summit on Community Colleges, which will highlight
the crucial role the community colleges play in developing
America’s workforce and reaching our educational goals. Because President Obama knows
that our nation’s success in the 21st century depends on workers
having the skills and the knowledge that they need
to compete with workers all over the world, that’s why
we’re putting this emphasis where we are. So we’ve come a long way
since January of 2009 when the president took office. And our economy was contracting
then, and it’s growing now. And we’ve seen eight
straight months of private-sector job growth. But we all know that there’s
much work to be done. And that’s why we’re here
today, because we know that the continued strengthening of
our economy depends on women entrepreneurs, women like
Theresa on our panel today. Theresa, I’m going to give
you a quick shout out. Theresa is the CEO and the
president of Dayton Construction Company, a company she started. And it has grown exponentially
over the last few years, from gross revenues of just
over $1 million in 2008 to $3.5 million last year
to $16 million this year. How about that? (applause) And she’s been starting and
building businesses for more than 20 years, including
a roofing company and an accounting firm that she
originally ran from her home, but that’s not all. Guess what else
you need to know? She’s married with six
children and one grandchild. Can you believe this? (applause) I have one daughter, and
that was more than an ocean. But in addition to her six
children and her one grandchild, she also took care of
her parents as they battled cancer and MS. So she is the epitome
of a successful businesswoman who has had to balance the
demands of her family life. And so we’re really
delighted, Theresa, that you’re here so you can
tell us all how you did it, and help us figure out
how to help you more. Women entrepreneurs who
demonstrate perseverance, drive and multitasking talents
that really exemplify what we want to show to the
rest of the world, that’s what we have in
Theresa who is right here. And it’s qualities like these
that have always made small businesses the backbone
of our economy. And increasingly those small
businesses are powered by women. The number of women-owned
businesses is growing almost twice as fast as those
of men-owned businesses. They account for more than
a trillion dollars in sales, and employ almost
8 million workers. And while other private
firms have lost jobs, women-owned small businesses
have actually been hiring. But as we all know, women
entrepreneurs also still face a unique set of challenges. And shortly, Dr. Blank, the
undersecretary of Economic Affairs for the Commerce
Department will outline her new report on how these challenges
have to be faced and addressed by our panel. And the most recent
data available, which brings us through the year
2007 — her report covers the years of 1997 through 2007 —
it shows that while women-owned small businesses constitute a
rising force in our economy, the individual firms nonetheless
struggle with access to capital, have lower survival rates
and don’t grow as fast as businesses owned by men. That will be of no surprise
to those of you in this room. So there’s still a lot of
work to be done to foster the development of
women entrepreneurs. And from day one, President
Obama has worked hard to address these challenges. So, for example, the president
used the recovery act to infuse much-needed capital into the
hands of women entrepreneurs so that they can
grow their businesses. More than $3 billion in SBA
recovery loans and another 1.8 billion (dollars) in federal
recovery act contracts have been awarded to women-owned businesses. And on top of this, last week
the president signed finally the small business jobs bill. (applause) The new law provides more tax
relief for small businesses, and increases the
size of SBA loans. Now, it’s too bad that the
bill was stalled for months, because every single day it
was blocked was another day that small businesses went
without this critical support. But we have it
now, and it’s law. Eight more small-business tax
cuts are now available on top of the eight that
were already enacted. Capital gains taxes for
investments in small businesses are eliminated, and there are
tax breaks to self-employed Americans to help on their
health care insurance, as well as to anybody else
opening a new business. Loans will be expanded to more
than 1,400 small businesses, and the size limits of the
most popular SBA loans will be doubled, which will help young
women entrepreneurs get the access to capital that
they need to bring their businesses to scale. The SBA has played such a
vital role in so many of the administration’s efforts, and we
are proud to announce that they also are adding four new women
business centers in 2010. That’s added to the 110 that
they already have up and running now around the country. These new centers, which
will open in Arkansas and New Hampshire and Kentucky and Texas
will offer the training and the technical assistance,
and the advice that women entrepreneurs need to
succeed in today’s economy. And later you’re going to hear
some very exciting news about how the administration is
increasing opportunities for women-owned businesses to get
federal contracts as well. We’re confident that all of
this is going to be a real shot in the arm to
America’s entrepreneurs. And we also know that in order
to be competitive globally, we need to not only give tax
breaks and increase loans, but build the flexible
workplaces that our workers and our entrepreneurs
need to compete. Already, businesses across
the country are increasing opportunities by
teleworking, flex time, comprehensive work weeks,
supportive child and elder care, and so much more. And they’re doing it because
it’s good for their workers, but it’s also good
for their bottom line. That’s why the president and the
first lady hosted a workplace flexibility forum right here
in the White House this past spring, where we highlighted and
explored the best practices in the private and public sector. The Department of Labor is also
hosting regional meetings that kick off this month in Dallas,
with a conference that focuses on small businesses. And it’s why the recovery act
included $2 billion in child care subsidy, and 2.1 billion
(dollars) in Head Start and early childhood Start which are
also proposed to be continued and expanded along with our
proposal for nearly doubling the Child and Dependent Care
Tax Credit, for those who care for their aging and
disabled relatives. Here with the
federal government, we are leading by example, by
promoting more opportunities to telework, and launch pilot
projects to improve flexibility in our workplace here
at the federal level. We’re doing all of this
because we understand the unique pressures and the
challenges of women-owned businesses such as yourself. You’re not only
managers and leaders. You’re mothers. You’re breadwinners. And so here at the White House
Council on Women and Girls, we’re working hard to make
your balancing act just a little bit easier. But I doubt any of you choose
to be — chose to be a self-made business owner because
you thought it would make your life easy. That’s not why you got
into what you’re doing. And maybe Theresa said it best
when she said that people start businesses because — and to
quote Theresa — “Mostly we share a desire to
create our own destiny.” That’s the spirit
that sustains you. That’s the spirit that helps
you with the balancing act. That’s the spirit that we’re
depending on to drive this economy towards a
brighter future and a more competitive future. So, finally, I want to emphasize
that today is just one part of our conversation. The SBA is going to continue
the dialogue long after today with regional events
around the country. And now I’d like to introduce to
you somebody who is not only an extraordinary administrator,
as Tina mentioned, but a dear person, a decent
person, a wonderful manager, and someone who has brought
new life to the SBA, and who really is there working
hard on behalf of women-owned entrepreneurs each
and every day. So please join me in
welcoming Karen Mills. Karen? Ms. Jarrett:
Be careful. Be careful. Ms. Mills:
Well, welcome everybody, and thank you all for being
here and making the effort to spend this time with us. And thanks to Valerie and to
Tina Tchen for what goes on here at the White House and in
the White House Office of Women and Girls, and really across
the whole Administration. We have incredible leadership
here for women entrepreneurs, extraordinary leadership, and it
is not just at the White House, and it’s not just at the SBA,
it’s really all across the Administration, and it’s set
by my boss, the President, cares deeply about these issues
and all these issues related to women and women entrepreneurs. And the reason is
because, as Valerie said, it’s not just a nice to do
to help women-owned small businesses, you all know this,
it’s because it’s critical to our economy. It’s critical because women
entrepreneurs are one of the fastest growing
segments of our economy; women-owned businesses account
for about a trillion in sales, they employ nearly
8 million workers, and that’s one of the reasons
why the SBA is so engaged and so involved here today in
promoting entrepreneurship. But we’re not the only ones. We have Becky Blank and the
whole team from the Department of Commerce, who works
extensively on these issues. The Federal Reserve has worked
with us and held about 40 events all around the country,
the Department of Labor has a big initiative in
workforce flexibility, and we’ve seen a lot of
public-private partnerships. I think there are folks here
from ACIA, anybody? Yes. Really great leadership. And the Shriver report. And we’ve got a new study
from Patricia Greene. Are you here? Yes. That was released
through the Center for Women’s Business Research. So I can’t mention everybody,
but we have enormous connections to advocacy groups who are here
and other private and public sector groups who have supported
women all around the country, particularly women
entrepreneurs. So what’s our goal today? Our goal is what we call
link, leverage, and align. Make all of these forces
around women entrepreneurship throughout the Administration
and out in the private sector universe work together
by focusing our goals. We do this a lot at the
SBA because as you know, we are more likely, we are
three to five times more likely, in fact, to make loans to women
and minority-owned businesses than a conventional lender. We are engaged pretty much all
the time in providing access and opportunity in three ways, what
we call the three C’s: Capital, counseling, and contracting. And I’m going to talk a little
bit about each one of them. As you know, women entrepreneurs
had a hard time in this economic downturn, as did most
small businesses, and that’s why it was so
important that in the Recovery Act we were able to increase
our loan guarantees. We put about $30 billion into
the hands of small businesses, about $3 billion in the hands
of women-owned small businesses, about 12,000 Recovery Act loans. We helped 12,000 women-owned
businesses over — with the Recovery Act funds,
and just recently, we were able to accept,
get Congress to pass the Small Business Jobs Act. Additional core funding for
programs that worked to provide access to capital and many, many
other important programs that are going to allow small
businesses to get the tools they need so that they can grow and
that we can get back to economic growth, prosperity,
and create jobs. One of the most important
things that we do, though, is around small
business contracting. It may be the largest government
public sector activity around driving economic value
to small businesses. It’s about $100 billion a year. And in the year 2000,
Congress wanted to extend some of those economic tools
to women-owned small businesses, so they passed the
Women’s Contracting Rule. Well, it’s now 2010, and
I am very happy to make a major announcement right now. We are going to, today, the rule
is done and we are posting it today, and it’s going to be
published officially tomorrow. So that we now have,
after ten years, an official Women’s
Contracting Rule. It is a 5% statutory goal, and
we have identified 80 industries where women-owned businesses
are underrepresented. We went out; we got comments
from over a thousand women leaders, including many
of you who are here today, to shape this rule. So I really want to thank
you for your participation in that process. And we over the next four
months are going to move to full implementation. We’re creating a —
using technology, to create a
user-friendly database. We’re going to have a secure
online storage portal where we put our certifications and
background filings so that we make sure that it’s women-owned
businesses that are getting the participation, and we’re going
to out and train contract officers in all of the different
agencies on this new rule and how to engage in making sure
that we reach our 5% goal in the 83 industries. So that — (applause) While those of you
who are in this room, some of you know how much it
means to be able to grow your business and create jobs and how
much opportunity there is for the public sector to make sure
it gets a win-win situation, gets the best small businesses
in there to do the work so that taxpayers get a good
bang for their buck. And it’s good for small
businesses because that’s the oxygen small businesses
need to create jobs. So that’s capital,
and the contracting. We also, as Valerie
said, are working on our counseling operations. We have 900 small business
development centers all around the country, but we also have an
additional 110 women-owned small business centers, and we’re
adding four more, as she said, in Arkansas, New Hampshire,
Kentucky, and Texas. So that we want to make sure
that women get the help they need to create their
business plans. Sometimes it’s not just
the capital they need, it’s the counseling and the
help that they need to be able to grow and create jobs. One more thing. Many of you know, we have
a National Women’s Business Council, and it’s a critical
partner in this effort. So I have another announcement,
surprise announcement. You probably all know that
the National Women’s Business Council is an important group,
it advises the President, Congress, and the SBA, and
their mission is to promote bold initiatives, policies
and programs that support women’s entrepreneurship. What we’re talking about today. So in August we were very happy
that we were able to announce a great new Executive
Director Dana Lewis. Where is Dana? Stand up. (applause) Now, she came to the Council
from the First Lady’s Office, we’re very thrilled
to have you on board. But the Council still
didn’t have a chairperson, and I’ve gotten calls from a
number of you saying when’s the Council going to
have a chairperson. Well, the answer is right now. I want to introduce somebody who
has decades of experience as an executive at Nationwide
Mutual Insurance Company. She served as the President
of Nationwide’s strategic investments and she guided the
subsidiaries there on how to grow and succeed. So she really knows
how to grow businesses. She also led the new
business innovation team, and they commercialized a number
of innovations in the financial services industries. She serves on the board of a
number of Fortune 500 companies, including Coca-Cola, Limited
Brands, and Time Warner Cable, and a few years ago she became
an entrepreneur herself, and she started her company
Lardon & Associates as the President and CEO, and they help
other business leaders realize the full potential of both
themselves and their businesses. She’s very active in the
Central Ohio community, and she’s the founder and chair
of Center for Healthy Families and that helps pregnant
and parenting teens. She’s won numerous
awards, honors. She’s been inducted into the
National Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Hall of Fame in 2007, and I’m very pleased to
have somebody who’s got this powerful combination
of executive leadership and a fresh experience of
becoming an entrepreneur, starting her own business. I know that she is going to lead
this Council to new heights, greater heights
than ever before. With Dana’s help, please help me
recognize the new chair of our NWBC, National Women’s
Business Council, Donna James. (applause) So, am I good to go with Mika? Did she really need
any introduction? Who watches Mika in the morning? I watch Mika in the morning. Well, I do know that she
graduated from Williams College, since I leave at Bowdoin
College we’re good, though, I have a son at Williams. She began her career —
and many of you know this, in the news business you have to
move various places — but she was an assistant on “ABC
World News This Morning,” and then she went and reported
for Fox and CBS in Connecticut. She became an anchor, I
didn’t know this before, but “Up to the Minute,” which
is a late night CBS network news program, and the website says
that it’s a broadcast for very late workers, very early
workers, insomniacs, and parents of
insomniac infants. (laughter) I’m sure many can relate. She also went on to report, and
I do remember it said Ground Zero on September 11th, and
she was the weekend anchor of “CBS Evening News.” In 2007 she came
to “Morning Joe,” and she brightened all
of our days, I have to say. Many of us wake up to Mika. I did do a show of hands
earlier, it was quite good. And I do want to say
something personally. I think all of us here,
and Valerie referred to it, really appreciate the
sense of respect and integrity on that set. And I think it’s really
largely due to Mika’s presence and character. We know that she gives Joe
Scarborough a lot of grief every morning, and that she has
the ability to have insight and impact on some of
the most important issues, and she does it with a
presence and a grace, and creates an environment of
respect that I think we’ve all come to admire and enjoy. So we’re very, very honored this
morning to have Mika Brzezinski here to lead the next panel. (applause) Ms. Brzezinski:
I think I’ll start here. Good afternoon,
everyone, how are you? And let me just get
the lay of the land. That’s the mic we’re passing
— oh, good, there are two. Okay. We’ll share. Gosh. First of all, barely
graduated from Williams. Barely. (laughter) And describing my life on
overnights at “CBS News Up to the Minute” sounds
strangely like today. My schedule hasn’t gotten a
lot better, I don’t know why. I just want to briefly thank
Valerie and Tina for the honor of being your moderator today,
especially on the findings of this very important report. What it reveals is the hard
work that needs to be done to help women get their
value in the marketplace. We have a long way to go
on a number of levels. How to fill in the missing
middle in an effective and permanent way. This panel is on the front
lines of that effort, and we’re going to try
and take the conversation to the next level. I applaud the commitment that
Valerie and Tina and so many in the White House and
this Administration, all the way up to the President,
have made to bringing pay equity to women in all corners
of the marketplace. I’m actually in the final stages
of a book entitled “Knowing your Value,” which is due
out in the spring, and it looks at the psychology
behind why women underachieve financially in the workplace. I mentioned the concept
actually to Valerie a year ago, we were just having a casual
conversation about work-life balance and how busy we are
and how much we try and fit everything in, and I was
actually telling her that I didn’t think I had the time to
carry through on the project, but then I found myself talking
more and more and more about the topic, and her instinctive gut
reaction was to do this book. And that was good enough for me. That was inspiration. So how kind of her to
inspire me on that. And how kind of Valerie to ask
me to moderate this panel on, of all days, the day
of my book deadline. (laughter) It ends up we were both right. The book topic is important, and
I’m still too busy to write it. Which is good. I have missed the first
deadline of my life, and I have been late for
the first time in my life. My Executive Producer Chris
Licht is here somewhere, maybe out the door, he will
tell you, I am never late, ever. I am today. But guess what. We are women, right? So we’ll get it done. Right? Isn’t that the bottom line? (applause) So let me introduce our panel
and then — I’m not sure I’m going to sit, we’ll see, I may
walk around and pace and think. First we have Dr. Rebecca
Blank, she’s the Commerce Undersecretary, she’s going
to give us the bottom line on this report. Marie Johns, Deputy
Administrator of the SBA. Theresa Daytner, of the
Daytner Corporation, and Bobbi Brown of
Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. Thank you all very
much for being here. First, Becky, if you could
give us the bottom line with the report. What does this report tell us? Ms. Blank:
Thank you, Mika. And I’d also like to thank
Valerie Jarrett and Tina Tchen and everyone at the Council on
Women and Girls who helped put the event together. So today we are releasing this
report which you should all have, you should have picked it
up as you came into the room. I’ve got a number of staff
people sitting at the back of the room, women, who did all
of the data work and all of the writing behind this, you know,
I just release these things, your staff do all the work. And I want to thank them as
well because they worked under a pretty tight
deadline to get this done. (applause) So as Valerie noted, this
report has data from the 1990s through 2007. And 2007 is not the most recent
year we’re all living in, but it is the most recent year
in which the Census Bureau collected information on small
and large businesses and gave us this sort of information. So this report is really
about long-term trends, and I know others on this
panel, Marie, are going to talk about sort of what’s happened
since then and what this Administration is doing. Three major things in this
report that I want to draw your attention to. First, the good news. Women-owned businesses
are expanding. They are more than a trillion
dollars of the economy, they’ve been growing more
rapidly than male-owned businesses, and their employment
has been growing more rapidly. All of that, of course, is
something to applaud and to be very proud of. There are also, however,
challenges that we are facing in addition to good news, and the
challenges basically are about the fact that in
almost every measure, women-owned businesses still
lag behind men-owned businesses. Women, while women are
half of the labor force, they’re only 30%
of business owners, and even though they’re 30%
of privately-held businesses, they account for only 11% of
sales and 13% of employment. They are disproportionately
smaller than male-owned businesses. And that leads to
the third point, which is about the last
half of the report, trying to say how
do you explain that? And there are only some
partial answers to this. It’s a complex question with
a set of complex answers. One of the answers people
have already talked about. Karen talked about the
problem of capital, and women apply for
capital at a lower rate, they are turned down
at a higher rate, they grow less rapidly in
part because they seek fewer outside loans so
they expand more slowly, and there are a whole variety
of questions around the capital market and access to loans that
I’m sure we’ll come back and talk about here on the panel. One of the second big
issues is industry location. You know, women don’t own
their firms in the same location as men do. Women are disproportionately in
some of the areas of health and education and social welfare,
and men are more likely — Theresa is an exception to
this — to be in construction and in manufacturing. And even the men in the sectors
of the economy that women are disproportionately located
in have smaller businesses. They’re simply a different
sector of the economy and they behave differently. And that needs to be taken
into account as well. Then the report ends by looking
at the characteristics of self-employed women
versus self-employed men, and one of the interesting
things there is that self-employed women look just
like self-employed men in terms of age, marital status, kids, so
there’s really nothing here in terms of the characteristics
that would make you believe that, you know, this
is a different group. Interestingly enough, the wages
that women take out of their businesses are a lot less than
the wages that men take out of their businesses. The female to male earnings
for the self-employed, that ratio is 55%, which
is well below what it is for wage earners. Even if you account for the fact
that women work fewer hours in their business, no surprise,
they work more at home with kids and with family. Even if you do make
that accounting, the earnings ratio rises only
to 63% among the self-employed, while it’s 77%
among wage earners. So that’s one of the
big gaps to worry about. In any case, there’s been
real growth of women-owned businesses, clearly there’s
enormous growth potential out there, and the question is how
do we release those forces? How do we encourage more
women to be entrepreneurs, and to take some of the risks
and, you know, some of the advantages of being
self-employed and running your own shop. This report only talks about,
say, data through 2007, it doesn’t go further than that,
but clearly as we think into the future we need to be thinking
about things like capital access, networks, getting
women to know people who run their own business. One of the main predictors of
whether you’re self-employed is whether your dad or
mom was self-employed, whether you know someone
who’s self-employed. Mentoring really matters here. This audience is filled with
women who have taken that step, who have become self-employed,
who started their own business, and it’s gatherings like this
that are going to generate the energy to take advantage of
those growth opportunities that are out there. Ms. Brzezinski:
So would you consider Theresa
and Bobbi exceptions versus the norm, given these numbers? Dr. Blank:
So Theresa is an exception
in terms of the industry. Ms. Brzezinski:
The industry. Dr. Blank:
But she’s not an exception
if you look at people who are self-employed, they often
start multiple businesses. In that sense she looks
a lot like many, many, I suspect other women out here. Once you start one
you keep going. And Bobbi’s the same. Ms. Brzezinski:
All right, so we’re going
to get to their stories, and Theresa and Bobbi, feel
free, we’re going to start the conversation now, to jump in
when something relates to you, don’t wait for me. But let’s ask Marie and Becky
if this applies to you as well. Let’s look at; because you
put out the numbers there, the report gives us a pretty
good picture right up to before this Administration began. We want to talk about the
work that needs to be done, but first I think we’ve
got to look at the why. And maybe part of it is in our
nature and maybe part of it is a system that works against us. And then the role of
government in solutions. So, Marie, first of all, any
idea why women are turned down more for loans? Why they make less? Why they ask for less? Why is there this inequity
within something that I think actually would be
where we could thrive? Ms. Johns:
Well, I think those are
questions that are probably better suited for the
economist on the panel, the macro questions of why
women behave differently in the marketplace, but I’d like to
talk about a few things related to the SBA to pick up on the
thread that Valerie started and that Karen continued
in their remarks. Karen mentioned the three
C’s for the SBA: Capital, contracting, and counseling. And one reason why we at the
agency are so excited about the Small Business Jobs Act is that
it gives the agency another — over half a billion dollars
to continue — this is on the access to capital issue,
continue programs that we know worked under the Recovery Act. Where we were able to leverage
$680 million to $30 billion of borrowing power for businesses. Now, of that amount, about 18%
went to women-owned businesses, and so yes, we want
to get that number up. So that gets me to another of
the C’s, and that’s counseling. Karen mentioned the
women’s business centers. We are opening, adding to the
110 women’s business centers that we have around the country
because we have data that show if women come in to
get the counseling, if they are able to connect to
networking opportunities with other women business owners,
that it makes a difference in terms of how they’re able
to grow their business. It’s interesting, we, some of us
in the room were at a gathering just last week, where the
National Women’s Business Council hosted a discussion
on access to capital, and Dr. Greene was there and
presented some very interesting information, and I remember one
of my colleagues from the SBA asked a question about behaviors
of women and sensitivity to risk, and women do tend
to be more risk averse. And so that is part of the issue
behind women’s willingness to take on a loan, to take on debt
in order to grow their business. And so how that in my mind
connects back to the counseling, the importance of counseling,
is that if women come in and are able to take advantage of the
services that SBA offers in that regard, that can help them
understand how to manage risk, how to balance risk, and how to
move forward in a way that makes sense for their business. Ms. Brzezinski:
Okay, I want to know
Theresa smiled when we mentioned risk, but
Bobbi wants to jump in. We’ll get to that,
that’s a tease. That’s called a tease
in the business. Bobbi, go. (laughter) Ms. Brown:
But I think one of the best
things that we could do, all of us in a room, you know,
especially all of the women, is to, you know, empower
our friends and our sisters, and it’s also telling a story. I mean, I learned a lot by
being around powerful women, by hearing what they, what they
did, how they had families, how they were able to work and
how they grew their business. And I think just somehow
telling women’s stories, there’s nothing better. You know, I’m a visual learner,
and there’s nothing better than whether it’s, you know, through
a television show that tells the different stories, that you
learn that anyone can do it, and it’s also about education. One of the things that I do
personally is I’m on the board of Dress for Success, and we
empower the women who come to us not just with, you
know, makeup or a suit, but with the skills they
need to go out and get a job and keep a job. It’s also a high school that I’m
involved with that we teach the kids entrepreneurship, and I’ve
hired firsthand a bunch of the young kids that now have like
slowly kind of gone up the ladder in my company and
now have either their own businesses, makeup
businesses, and we are, Bobbi Brown also really
believes in educating. So we educate a lot
of women and men, too, how to be makeup artists. So it’s not just, not
everyone is able to, you know, to go out and start
the business from scratch, but if you are
able to, you know, to really teach people how to,
how to do whatever they need to do, whether it’s a
hairdresser or makeup artist or, you know, builder. So I really love to, you know,
my dream is to have a school that we can have people
come to and learn the skill. Ms. Brzezinski:
Those are great ideas, and we
certainly need to get more women filling out, obviously,
the missing middle. I want to talk about, without
this becoming a whining session, impediments to growth,
and I want to ask Becky and Marie about that. But first, Theresa, you’re
in an industry run — that is still a man’s industry. You are unusual in that respect. Why did you smile so widely
when we were talking about the issue of risk? Obviously the studies show that
women take less risks than men, and it’s very good that
we have some women now running our economy. I think that’s going to
be helpful in the future. (laughter) We’ll be talking to
some of those tomorrow at the Fortune event. They’re amazing women, and that
sentiment and what we bring to the table is certainly valuable
in the national marketplace, and we have to get there,
but the question is how and the issue is risk. For you, Theresa. Ms. Daytner:
I would agree with the
comment that most of the women I encounter are
extremely risk averse, and more risk averse than
their male counterparts. But I also believe that
good entrepreneurs, really good entrepreneurs
are calculated risk takers. So — and speaking to the other
thing we were talking about with regard to money and women
not valuing themselves from a financial perspective, I
think it’s a language that women are still learning. The language of
financial literacy. And once you learn
that language, you’re much more comfortable with
that when you’re more fluent. So when I grew up wanting to be
a carpenter and an entrepreneur, I decided that I should learn
the money first and the wood
second. And that’s created a whole
different platform to have a conversation around
money, and ironically, when I first convinced my
husband to quit his job and be my first employee — (laughter) Ms. Brzezinski:
Oh, my God, I love her. (laughter and applause) Ms. Daytner:
This is important to hear. I’ll never forget the first
time I let him price himself. And it was about half of
where it needed to be. So the conversation I
had with him was about the language of money. And he’s an engineer, so
I made it black and white from a financial perspective. I said look, buddy, this is what
I need to charge you for — this is what I need to
charge you out at. Think about a
branding perspective. Hey, if I’m charging
you at half the price, someone’s going to think
you can’t do anything. So from a branding perspective
I had to put him up here, but the other part of that
— and I didn’t realize he didn’t — he didn’t speak that
particular language because he hadn’t considered overhead,
profit, and the fact that, all right, you might be at
your dining room table today, but next year when you go out
and you’ve hired an assistant and you’re in an office and
your overhead has doubled, you can’t go back to the same
client and say, hey, listen, I have a telephone bill now
and some other expenses, I’m going to double my rate. So it just, I think that even
when you put gender aside, we have to get much
more comfortable, and especially women, with the
language of money and surround yourself with people who
know it better than you. It’s kind of like immersion
in terms of wanting to learn a new language. Ms. Brzezinski:
I love this. Very good advice
for your husband. The question is — (laughter) The question is, are
you as comfortable doing that for yourself? Just yes-no question. Ms. Daytner:
Yes. Ms. Brzezinski:
I love her. I’ll have what she’s having. (laughter) Because how many of you feel
comfortable negotiating for yourself, saying, you
know what, I’m worth this. I’ll have what all
of you are having. Okay. I’m not so comfortable. Haven’t been. And I’ve actually interviewed
some of the women that I’ll be writing about who are far
more successful than I am, and it is a common narrative. Where it’s one thing where you
can advocate for your child or your husband or someone else or
someone that you think is worth it, but when you’re actually
trying to get the money for yourself, we cut
ourselves short. We hem and haw. We apologize. There are excuses. And I just wonder if that’s
one of the narratives, Becky and Marie, that
you are looking at. What are some of the main
impediments that women put in front of their own development
and growth when they’re trying to build something in
the business world? Dr. Blank:
So one of the big issues,
and this goes back to the capital area, is that
women are much less likely to seek outside capital. They use their own capital,
their own credit cards, they use government loans, but
they are less likely than men to go into banks
and to ask for loans, both when they start up
their business as well as when they expand. And the result is they
start with less capital, and they expand
with less capital, and their growth is less. And how much of that is
anticipation that the banks are going to, you know, you started
telling in your narrative saying the bank’s going to turn me down
so I’m not even going to go; how much of it is presentation,
and how much of it is a real history of banking
discrimination against women, which, of course, is out there. Ms. Brzezinski:
So when you have — go ahead, do
you want to add to that, Marie, or follow up? Ms. Johns:
Yes. I think that there’s
another opportunity to talk about the benefits from the
SBA’s women’s business centers in that we have, as Karen
mentioned, a network of 900 small business development
centers around the country, but those 110 women’s business
centers — and that platform is growing — I’ve heard
some fascinating stories, just in the time that
I’ve been at the agency, about how women coming
together in a group of women, feeling more supported, being
able to learn from each other, to be empowered by each other
is really a significant benefit of those opportunities. I just want to
share one vignette. I was at the Women’s Business
Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, not long ago, and there was a
young woman there who is a sole proprietor, she makes jewelry,
and because of her counseling at the Women’s Business Center,
and learning about opportunities that were available to her
connected to the major push that the President has on
exporting and wanting more small businesses involved
in the exporting space, she’s a single-person shop and
she’s about to have her jewelry available in two overseas
markets, Paris and London. So if you’re in the
fashion business, I mean, there aren’t two
better places to be. And so that’s, to me, an
example of the notion of the empowerment, connecting women
to resources that they need, and igniting the spark. It’s there, I agree
with you that most, that you have to be somewhat
of a risk taker to even be bold enough to say I’m going
to start a new business. But with more, more resources,
more connecting to other like-minded people, that’s
really when we start to get more traction. Ms. Brzezinski:
And can the government
help increase the number of start-ups for women? Can, I mean, the look at
the numbers is amazing. We see the void, we see
what needs to be done, but can the government get
involved to the point where it inspires that kind of growth
along the lines of male-female? Ms. Johns:
Well, that’s what we’re
working hard to do at the Small Business Administration,
and for example, when I started my career many, many years ago, there were about three — women business owners comprised
about 3% of businesses. That number’s up to nearly 30%. So that’s a significant
growth, and when, what we’re focused on at the
SBA is to make sure that we’re providing the tools that
women need to help them grow even more. Ms. Brzezinski:
So Theresa and Bobbi, though
you may be kind of a bulldozer, I mean, seriously, I think it’s
great, you have, you have pushed through and your attitude
has been not along the norms that the data puts out there for
our attitudes toward ourselves and making money, but what
have been the impediments along the way? What have been the areas where
you just ran into brick walls? Ms. Brown:
Well, there’s been many,
but I wanted to say just, you know, as a follow-up
to what she was saying, I think when you have a mentor
and you have someone that you can learn from, that’s so
important and, you know, just like they do in other
situations and in schools, why can’t there be some kind of
mentor program where people that even don’t know people — I’m
very lucky that I have a lot of people in my, in my,
you know, in my sight. Why can’t somehow you connect
some people to be able to mentor other small business
owners in a bigger way? Ms. Johns:
Well, stay tuned, we’re
working on that very initiative at the SBA under
our Start-up America umbrella, and you’re absolutely right. Mentorship really does matter,
and so we have some, I think, exciting things that
we’ll be rolling out soon in that very regard. Ms. Daytner:
And just to piggyback
and going back to your question about what have been
impediments, access to capital. And in particular
in construction, I started my business with a
professional services model, and we did primarily
consulting in the commercial construction space. When I started moving us along
our supply chain into general contracting, the whole balance
sheet had to take on a totally different look because it needs
to be heavy on either equity or working capital, both
of which are cash, okay? Cash which I didn’t have. So that’s really
been, and it’s almost, you almost have to
fully collateralize. The insurance companies, the
surety bonding companies, they don’t take a lot of risk,
so that’s something where you were asking how can
the government help. I think that this new, this
new legislation increasing the lending limits, my first
business loan was a $50,000 SBA loan that — and people
thought I was crazy because I wanted to invest in this big
computer server system and they’re looking at us
like it’s just two of you. And I said I know, but build
the system for ten people. So when I was able to get that
loan, I was able to make that leap and invest in the tools that were going to help me grow the business. And so now, as I’ve transitioned
into general contracting, and I need more
credit available, this is perfect timing for me
because if I have to turn away work because I don’t have a
line of credit or financing, it becomes a downward cycle
versus an upward spiral. So it’s going to be
very beneficial to me. Ms. Brzezinski:
All right, I want to talk a
little bit about the issue of workplace flexibility, hear
about the report and what the SBA is doing there, but
first Bobbi, we know that you obviously have broken
through to the very top of your ranks in your industry. What did it take for you? Was there a sacrifice
personally or are you just magically perfect? Ms. Brown:
Well, I’m so not — (laughter) I’m so not magically
perfect, so not. But really what the secret for
me is I started really small. I started with ten lipsticks;
I never took out a loan. We cleaned out our, you know,
very small bank account, you know, 20 years ago. I had just gotten married,
and in the next, you know, two years I had two children,
and now I have three boys. I started small, Estee Lauder
bought my company 15 years ago, so I’m not — I’m a
very large company now, but if you ask anyone
that works with me, I think I still own my little
independent business, and I, and I am the CEO of
Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, I do not officially
have that title. I took it myself. Because that’s what I do,
but it’s, none of it’s easy, but I also think for me probably
what has been my biggest strength is my being naive
and not realizing that I can’t do something. I don’t really believe in rules. Ms. Brzezinski:
Okay, so tell me
more about that, because I think women
tend to follow — oh, boy. Two rebels right here. Ms. Brown:
But you have to be. I mean — Ms. Brzezinski:
And look at them. Ms. Brown:
And my role model, by the way,
was growing up and watching my grandfather, Papa Sam, five
foot two, you know, from Russia, came here with nothing,
and by the time, you know, he was in his 70s he had a very
big car dealership in Chicago, and I watched him. I watched him how he worked
with the people around him, and again, it’s about observing. I am a learner that sees
things and observes, and just by watching people I
think that is really the key. Ms. Brzezinski:
Okay, but where, what is
workplace flexibility in your — and how that, by looking — Ms. Brown:
You might not want
to hear this from me. Ms. Brzezinski:
No, I think I do. Ms. Brown:
You might not. Because honestly, what’s
important to me in my life is my three kids, my husband, taking
care of myself, exercising, and my work for me is pretty
much my passion and my hobby. I put as much time and
energy — I don’t do any of it particularly
perfect, by the way. People at work always wonder
where I am and people at home always wonder where I am. (laughter) So it’s just the way it goes. I mean, I do my
makeup in the car. (applause) I mean, but — well,
it’s about being real. I did my makeup on Amtrak, okay? Ms. Brzezinski:
It looks fabulous. Ms. Brown:
And I didn’t have foundation, okay? I had to borrow my
president’s concealer. But it’s about normal, it’s
about being real and being normal, and for me,
I always put my kids’ holidays on my calendar. I want to be at back
to school night. I’ve missed one in 20 years. And so those things are
really important to me, and so for me that’s a priority. But because I have my
own business, I mean, I don’t anymore, but I do, so —
because I have my own business I’m allowed to
make those choices. And sometimes you
have big choices. You can’t do everything. I only have three,
she’s got six. Ms. Brzezinski:
Six. She has six. Six. I don’t even, the question of
how do you do it does not rank. It just doesn’t. And, I mean, I’m getting,
I’m tiring myself. I don’t know if there’s an
answer that you can apply to the rest of the world, but try. Ms. Daytner:
Well, I think similar
to what Bobbi was saying, it’s like sometimes I feel
like people ask how do you do it and I say, well, sometimes
I feel like I am doing it, and sometimes I feel
like I really am not. Ms. Brzezinski:
Right. Ms. Daytner:
And, you know, the roast
went in the crock pot this morning and I left instructions,
and got the missed lunch somehow to school, but I delegate. I delegate a lot, and
I delegate very well, and I include everybody
around me so that they’re, they’re excited and they’re part
of whatever the end result is. But, you know what,
I agree with Bobbi. I mean, I just, there are
lots of times when I miss, and then you have to do a
little bit of game filming. You know how in the NFL,
what do they talk about? They spend an awful lot of time
looking at the film and saying, what went right? What did not go well? So how do we tweak and adjust
to get back in the game, because we want to win. And so I think that’s really
what it boils down to, is we know we’re not perfect,
we’re really not trying to be, but are we getting the
right things first. So with regard to workplace
flexibility, I have to tell you, my goal is to scale
up my business, and I just keep pulling out and
pulling out and pulling out of daily operations. And so where I started wearing
all the hats and I wasn’t as flexible, now I’m starting to
take them off and getting really good lieutenants in place
to manage different things. Ms. Brzezinski:
Great segue to Marie and
Becky, because obviously, when you’re starting out
you’ve got to wear all the hats. I’m not sure how workplace
flexibility fits in with competition and how does the
SBA approach this problem? Ms. Johns:
When you’re talking to
a Bobbi or a Theresa, both of whom are
very successful, you — they’re in a
different place from, say, a woman who may be in
the room who is just starting her business. And that’s, that’s a reality. And so at the SBA, again, I go
back to the counseling that we provide, and that is to try
to recognize that businesses, entrepreneurs have
different lifecycles, different places on
the lifecycle where their business falls. And we have to be sensitive
to that and make sure that the services that we’re
providing are relevant, given where a woman business
owner may be in the process. And I just want to
say at this point, I meant to say it at the
outset, but I really, I’m so grateful having been
part of the team who worked on pulling this
conference together, I’m just so grateful
that you are here, and particularly for the
women who do own businesses. I know what sacrifice that is,
after my career at Verizon I started a small business
myself, and when I wasn’t there, work wasn’t done. And so it’s really very
meaningful that so many of you took the time out to be part
of this important conversation. And the second thing is that
while I think it’s important that we’re setting a
framework with this panel, with Valerie’s
remarks and Karen’s, for me the most valuable part
of the day is going to be what comes out of our
breakout sessions. Because certainly I want to tell
you all the wonderful things that the SBA, me and my
colleagues are involved with at the agency, but we are
constantly in need of feedback. We’re constantly in need of
making sure that what we’re doing at headquarters or in
our field offices is really meeting the needs. And I know that there are
ways that we can improve, and so we’re so eager to
hear from you on that. One last point, if I may, one
of the initiatives that I’m very involved with at the agency is
looking at how we do a better job of serving our traditionally
underserved communities, and women business
owners are part of that. Rural, certain rural communities, certain urban communities, they’re just,
there’s just a tremendous upside potential for us to bring the
resources of the SBA to those markets, and that is something
that we’ll be telling you more about as those plans, as those
plans become more mature. But again, I just want to
put in an early plug for the breakout sessions. We really need to
hear your feedback, what’s working well that
we need to continue, where we got it wrong
and need to fix it, all that’s incredibly helpful. Ms. Brzezinski:
Right. So Becky, do
you want to add to that? Go right ahead. Dr. Blank:
I just want to say something
very quickly about the work-life balance issues. If you ask people why
they became entrepreneurs, why they started
their own business, a significant share of women
say it’s in part because they’re hoping for better
work-life balance, which I interpret saying they
want more control over their hours, they want to
be their own boss. Almost no men say they start
their own business because of better work-life balance. Ms. Brzezinski:
Right. Dr. Blank:
And you know, the world
is not fair with regard to who still takes the majority of
responsibility for child care, for elder care, for getting the
lunch over to school when your child losses it, and, you know,
the result of that is you think about the policies
that matter for women, there’s a whole set of policies
we tend not to think about as workforce immediate policies
but which really matter disproportionately for women
small business owners around things like health care,
elder care, child care. Those policies can matter as
much in some ways as some of the direct capital availability
and loan availability policies. Ms. Brown:
I’ve noticed in the 20
years since I’ve been in business, when I first had my
first child and I was on the phone doing interviews, I was
embarrassed that I had this kid that was making noise,
and now that he’s in college, I talk to other editors that
are calling me up and I hear their kids in the
background, and their dogs, and they’re working from home,
and it’s totally acceptable. So it has really changed
a lot in 20 years. Ms. Brzezinski:
But it’s still not fair,
because we do it all. (laughter and applause) It just hasn’t
changed that much, but I do love hearing a baby cry
in the background and, you know, gosh, my sister-in-law
is here, Aurora. How old is she? She’s one and a half, and I
carried through our Bipartisan Health Challenge, and I’m
still sore on one side. Because babies are everywhere,
we bring them to work and we try — I mean, Michelle Obama
went to one of her first job interviews with her newborn
slung around her neck. That’s groundbreaking. And that’s great. Having said that, we still sort
of end up being the central focus not just because men are
mean and they lay it all on us, we want that. We want to have a full life with
our children and be the educator and the mother and the
leader of the family, and the one who maybe is there
making the cookies or whatever to bring that comfort and
warmth to our children, and we also want and need to
succeed in the business world. Ms. Brown:
We can, we can, though. We can do both those things. Ms. Brzezinski:
We can. Ms. Brown:
We can. Ms. Brzezinski:
There are sacrifices. Ms. Brown:
And a lot of the men
can’t, so we’re much luckier. (laughter) Ms. Brzezinski:
That’s true. That’s actually quite true. (applause) I had so many lines
that I was going to say, I just decided to hold my fire. But my question, I guess Becky,
let’s go back to the study and some of the why’s here, because
in the breakout sessions we’ll roll up our sleeves and
look at what can be, but first why is it that
women-owned businesses are growing in size and number but
still struggle compared to the male counterparts? What is behind sort
of the gap there? What are some of
the impediments? Dr. Blank:
So we’ve talked about capital,
we’ve talked about some of the challenges of family versus
owning one’s own business. A third issue here is the
industries that women are in. I think it’s fascinating because
between Bobbi and Theresa, we have a woman who’s in one of
the more traditionally female industries, even though there
may not be that many female entrepreneurs in it, versus
a woman who’s in a more nontraditional industry. And if you look at why women’s
businesses have been growing in recent years and men’s haven’t,
it actually is largely an industry story, because it’s
actually education and health that’s been growing,
and manufacturing and construction that hasn’t. So industry location has really
benefited women in, you know, those relative growth rates
in the last few years. But in terms of the
long-terms trends, it’s somewhat disadvantaged
women because the industries that women are
disproportionately in are industries that start
with much smaller firms, that on average have grown less
and don’t reach the same size, you know, the really —
there’s much bigger firms in manufacturing on average
than there are, for instance, in education or in some
of the other areas. So this industry choice which,
you know, of course, also reflects itself in terms of
education and degrees and everything else, really matters
for where women end up and where men end up. Ms. Brzezinski:
And what do you mean
by industry choice? I mean, what, can
you be more specific? Is there, are there tracks that
women are more successful in? Dr. Blank:
That’s the, you know, $60,000
question of why is it that women make different choices about,
you know, where they’re going to major in school, what
skills they’re going to acquire, and I think this question of,
you know, what do you do first? You train yourself on the money. That’s the, yeah, that’s
a great place to start, and not enough women
start there sometimes. Ms. Daytner:
I think what you
mentioned is key. And I have to share
this with you, and I think it’s really given me
the lens I look through today. My father was a hairdresser. He was a cosmetologist,
and I can remember, and he had a couple small
shops and a beauty school, and he worked with all women. And I remember being six years
old and going Saturday morning in with my father and taking the
curlers out of somebody’s hair. The nice lady handed me
a quarter and she said, “Are you going to do
this when you grow up?” And I just remember going — no. So it was kind of, you know,
talk about industry choice. Some of this for me was
process of elimination. But as far as being
in a nontraditional — I hear you, girlfriend. But as far as being
in a nontraditional — my mother was a geologist. So we went rock picking
and spelunking with mom. Ms. Brzezinski:
This explains a lot. (laughter) I’m sorry. Ms. Daytner:
I thought you should
hear more of the story. It’s really — Ms. Brzezinski:
It helps. It helps. I feel better, actually. Ms. Daytner:
So I decided what
I didn’t want to do, and I really truly looked
at industry choice very, very specifically based on
what I thought would make good business sense. And then I would put
the resources together. And I didn’t have to be the best
hammer swinger or, you know, even if I were in the food
business I don’t have to be the best chef. If I could be the entrepreneur
that had the vision that pulled the resources together, then
I could do whatever I wanted. So I just wanted to address what
she was talking about as far as industry choice, because I
watched my father not make a lot of money in doing hair. Although I’m trying to
support my local economy single-handedly, but — Ms. Brzezinski:
And doing quite a
good job at it. Ms. Daytner:
Thank you. Ms. Brzezinski:
Becky and Marie, was
there anything in this report, as we pull together all
this information from different places and pare it down,
that surprised you? That you didn’t expect,
given your vast experience? Ms. Johns:
May I make a comment? Ms. Brzezinski:
Yes! Yeah. You know what, don’t mind me. Ms. Johns:
Before we go to the
— okay, thank you. Ms. Brzezinski:
I’m good. Ms. Johns:
Okay, thank you. But I think the information that
Theresa just shared is a segue to give me a moment to talk
about something that I’m really passionate about. Ms. Brzezinski:
Please. Ms. Johns:
And that’s the fact
that we’ve got to do, we have got to, as I
call it, create the next generation
of entrepreneurs. We’ve got to do a better
job of linking to our young people and teaching them not
waiting until, you know, you’re outsourced at age 35
and decide you want to start a business, but rather talking
about this in middle school, in high school, so that young
people have a pathway to do what is their passion and turn
that into a business. A quick story, is at another one
of our women’s business centers, met a woman, she was on a
panel, part of a roundtable, fascinating, very
powerful stories, many of the women were talking
about what a tough year it has been, how the economy has
affected their business, and so on. One woman on this panel
was an upholsterer. She learned upholstery
from her grandmother. She started an upholstery shop. She says, and guess what,
I’m having my best year yet. That kind of makes sense with
the economy being as it is. People are choosing to
reupholster as opposed to toss out and buy new. But then she went on to say
about how her business had grown to the point where she has
been able to hire a young man to work with her. Now, this young man happens to
have come out of the criminal justice system, he was
back in the community. He was an upholsterer,
she’s hired him, and she was talking about what a
fabulous job he’s doing and that she’s planning at some point in
the future to help him set up his own shop, to expand
by helping him set up. So the power of that
story to me was that, not to get into a discussion
about how do we handle previously incarcerated persons,
but it does say how we can take young people who have a passion
for a skilled trade and to help them understand that
you can take that skill, you can take that thing
that you love doing and you can create a business. Ms. Brown:
Well, I went to Emerson College
and I studied theatrical makeup. All right, who studies
theatrical makeup in college? But I have a BFA, and now they
have an entrepreneurial program so you can go through all four
years of school and you leave with a degree and you leave
with your own business, which is really amazing. And I also want to say,
being an entrepreneur, I never cared about money and
I never thought about being a business owner and
having a big business, but I had a dream and a passion. So I’m the opposite of you, is
how I came to be a business. Ms. Brzezinski:
You know, again, we get
back to this issue of money and comfort level. And I wonder as we move forward
if that’s something that the SBA is addressing in terms
of training or, I mean, do we need to help women be
comfortable getting out there and getting the
money that they need? Maybe it’s partly on us that
we’re not getting the loans. Maybe it’s partly on us
that the money isn’t there. And I look, I question that,
I look in mirror because there have been times in any career on
a very different level but where I just didn’t go for it when
it was sitting right there. And is that, am I just a
loser or is that something we need to address? (laughter) Ms. Johns:
Well, I think Bobbi is
unique in that regard, in that most of the women we
serve at the SBA are looking at the money. Ms. Brzezinski:
Yeah. Ms. Johns:
We need to make
money and to — Ms. Brzezinski:
But why don’t they get it? Why don’t they get the loans? Ms. Brown:
If you go in and say I want
to start a new business, people say to me I want
to own my own business. I’m like, that’s great. Okay. Can I have
some more information? I mean, if you go into
a bank and say I want, I need a business loan, I
want to start my own business, you kind of have to give
them more information. You have to tell them
why that they want, why they need to money. Like why they should
give you the money. Ms. Johns:
Absolutely, that’s where
the business plan comes in. And that’s where
they talk about — Ms. Brown:
So we have to teach, we
have to teach a business plan. I mean, I didn’t know
what a business plan was when I started. Ms. Jones:
See, you should
have come to the SBA. (laughter) Ms. Brown:
Because you know, I
might be stuck there. Ms. Brzezinski:
All right. So we’re about to wrap this up,
we just have a few minutes left. I’d love to just go down the
line and hear perspective personally from each of you as
we look at the results of this report and get ready to sort
of get into the weeds on this. What is the value of a
women-owned business, woman-owned business
in the marketplace? What is it that we bring to the
table that makes the results of this report so important and the
fact that we need to grow and be more like Theresa and Bobbi
and have many more out there? What’s the, I mean, we didn’t,
we didn’t have to do this, in many ways many
people need to, but also our marketplace
needs women in it. What would be Becky and then
Marie and then Theresa and then Bobbi, what is it that we bring
to the table that add to the value of the entire marketplace? Dr. Blank:
So at least one of the
reasons why I care about the growth of women-owned
businesses is that, you know, it really is the issue of
wanting to see women take advantage of the full
set of opportunities that are out there. That you see, you know, when you
see an opportunity like this, to start and grow and thrive and
be your own boss and shape an organization in the way
that many people who are self-employed are able to do. The fact that women choose not
to do this for a whole set of reasons suggests there are a
set of constraints out there. And I, you know, having spent a
good part of my life working on issues around why do women in
the labor forces not do as well as men across a range of issues,
I see self-employment as one of those key issues where you want
more women to be encouraged, to see this as an
opportunity for them. So I see it less as what do
women bring uniquely as to what does self-employment
bring to women? Ms. Brzezinski:
Exactly. Marie? Ms. Johns:
Our economy is strongest when
we’re all fully participating in it, and so having women,
having minorities fully be able to participate in the
economy is good for all of us. Women tend to hire women
in nontraditional jobs. Women bring — women
and men are different. Women bring different,
oftentimes different leadership, different managerial skills to
the marketplace that’s reflected in the products that they and
services that they may offer. Now, I don’t want to get, don’t
want to lapse into stereotypes and putting people in very
clear buckets, but the point is, many of the women that I have
known over the years who have built a business, whom I admire,
they have done it differently than perhaps a man would have,
and I think that we’re all, we all benefit from having
that kind of diversity in a strong economy. And that’s why it’s important
to encourage even more women, and particularly more of our
young women to take that step to start their business. Ms. Brzezinski:
Theresa. Ms. Daytner:
I wanted to address, I see
Sharon Hadari in the back there, and she did a great article that
was featured in “The Wall Street Journal,” and she and
I talked about it, and one of the concepts
she said around this, why aren’t women doing
better as entrepreneurs, and it’s kind of this whole,
anybody ever see the movie, Tyler Perry has a movie
that’s called “I Can do Battle by Myself.” And the idea of it is
really, hey, I can, I can just keep shooting
myself in the foot, no one has to hold me
back, because I’m pretty good at it myself. And I think that a lot
of times that has to do, both in communities of
color and with women, where we’re somewhat pioneers
still, and that’s kind of sad, but we’re still pushing
up against that frontier. And the more role
models that we have, and the more that we
stretch, I’ll tell you what, I stretch all the time outside
of my community where I’m comfortable, the community of
just women business owners. I like to make sure that I’m a
multiplier in that community, that I’m bringing women with me,
that I’m using a social network to spread the news
about opportunities. That when I have to
buy goods and services, I look to my girlfriends with
businesses because we tend to keep that within our communities
and take care of the people around us, our employees
and our families. So I think that’s all good. How the SBA, I mean, these
women’s business centers create a sense of community which is
then the foundation where people have women develop the
confidence to say, okay, they’ve got my back. So now I can, I can put,
dip a foot in the water. And next thing you know they’re
going to dive off of there. So I think that’s tremendous,
but I really think we still have a ways to go as a
community and leaders and being women entrepreneurs,
but we’re definitely making strides in the right direction. Ms. Brzezinski:
And Bobbi. Ms. Brown:
I really think that our —
I think that what we need to do is to really teach
women that they are powerful. Because I think a lot of women
just don’t know that they can do it and be it, and I believe in
paying forward that, you know, women that make it, they
give back and they teach and empower other women. So it’s really just a circle. But I think women, you
know, are really powerful. Ms. Brzezinski:
Ladies, thank you very much. I’m going to check
off my list here. I need to make money,
take out a loan, and I’m going to take — I’m
going to leave here today, I’m going to go
take a huge risk. I’m doing it. (laughter) Thank you very much. I think we’re going to
have breakout sessions now. Sorry if I kept you all
waiting, I appreciate your having all of us. Thank you. (applause) Thank you very much. Ms. Tchen:
That was wonderful. Could we have another round
of applause for Mika and for this terrific panel. (applause) You know, that was straight from
the train station right here, you know, it was fabulous. It was fabulous. So we’re now going to
start our breakouts, we’re going to adjust the
schedule just a little bit to make sure we have enough
time to hear from all of you in the breakout sessions. So we will end the breakouts at
3:30, reconvene here at 3:40. And our interns, our wonderful
interns, are right here, they will all have signs,
you see they’ve got signs for the room numbers. You’ve got a room number
on your badge to tell you, and everybody, we’re going
to go out the door right over here to my left. So if you can make your
way now to the breakouts, and we’re looking forward
to the conversation. Thank you.

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