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Strength in a sisterhood

By Clayton Collins / February 5, 2001



With many dotcoms and "notcoms" in workforce-reduction mode, it may seem cheeky to be knocking on investors' doors, angling for seed money for new businesses.

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Investors have "giving fatigue."

Venture-capital grants may have notched one heck of a decade (see chart, page 19), but this past quarter saw a slide.

And those investors who were still warily doling out cash favored firms they had previously funded over new prospects, which won only about 25 percent of total venture capital. (They scored 42.5 percent as recently as 1997.)

So is it time to put a lid on new ideas until prosperity returns? Well, no. The American business landscape has more open niches than an English muffin.

And start-ups still have a role.

Persuading backers to buy into business plans isn't getting easier. But in today's economic climate, women entrepreneurs may be among the best positioned to win financial backing.

That's significant. Women run as many as 4 in 10 businesses. They pull down about half of all loans from the government's Small Business Administration. But they've been all but shut out of venture capital.

Why might that change now?

Experts place increasing value on companies with strategic alliances. Small firms that take an armada approach are a lot more attractive these days than ones that sail into battle solo, swinging a saber. Too many buccaneers have sunk to the bottom.

And while there's certainly nothing gender-exclusive about power networking, businesswomen could be well served by their demonstrated propensity for working together. Their knocking will only get louder.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society