“Ignite Success” with Liz Sara from the National Women’s Business Council

Liz Sara
Chairman at National Women’s Business Council
Website Address: www.nwbc.gov


25 year motivational speaker and author Snowden McFall (www.firedupnow.com) welcomes outstanding first coast women leaders to this uplifting and interesting show, filled with practical advice and tips for women. Today, Snowden talks to Liz Sara from the National Women’s Business Council.
Liz Sara has more than 30 years of experience in the high-tech community as an entrepreneur, business leader and angel investor. Besides running her own marketing strategy firm for nearly 20 years, she serves as the Presidentially-appointed Chair of the National Women’s Business Council, a non-partisan federal agency supporting female founders.
To learn more check out www.nwbc.gov.

So tell us first a little bit about what you did before you were a member of the National Women’s Business Council.

Sure. I’ve been an entrepreneur all of my career, and I’ve spent that entire career in the technology field which is a bit of a unique place for women to be. Even today, we only have about 5% of all technology companies started and run by women and owned by women. So we’re hoping to increase that number and do it soon. But I’ve been a co-founder of various technology companies, and currently I run my own strategy firm out of D.C. which helps startups as well as growth stage tech companies with their own revenue generation plans and success plans if you will. So I’ve been in the small business sector all of my career.

And so you were appointed as a presidential appointment to the National Women’s Business Council. Tell us about that council.

Yes. So I was appointed to be the chairman of that council. And as chair, my first role was to appoint the rest of our council. So we are consisting of five women presidents of women business organizations and eight women small business owners, four from the president’s party and four from the other party. So we are an independent, nonpartisan commission with one sole purpose in place which is to advocate for female founders and women business owners around the country. And we do that by making recommendations every year to Congress, to the Small Business Administration, and to the White House on things that they can do to help women become more successful in their own business enterprises.

Can you share with us some of the different kinds of legislation you’ve impacted and what you have been advocating?

Sure. So as a business owner and as a business executive my career, I realized that for us as a council to have an impact we’d have to tackle just a few things but do them well and do them in a way that we felt that we could make some traction and get some things done. So I picked three issues that all women business owners face, and one in particular is exclusive to women in rural communities. So in that one we are looking at what are the obstacles and what are the challenges that women in communities outside of large urban centers face in getting new businesses off the ground. Is it lack of resources, lack of mentorship, lack of talented workforce? So there is a number of issues there that we are looking at in terms of trying to make the situation for women in rural communities a lot more convenient to getting a business off the ground and growing it. The second area we’re focusing on has to do with the types of businesses that women tend to start. Most of them tend to be in the services space, and most women-owned businesses tend to be solopreneur. We’re trying to help that and we’re trying to change that in two areas: one, by trying to find programs and paths to encourage more young girls and young women to start companies in STEM-related fields and not the traditional women-owned businesses such as brick and mortar, such as bakeries, boutiques, and other service industries because we feel that women are not represented equally at the national as well as the global level because those companies are ones that are having major impact with large employer bases. The third area that we’re working on that all women-owned businesses face at every stage of their company lifecycle is access to capital. So we’re looking at what are the things we can do to help women get needed funds at each step of the way.

And it’s frustrating, I’m sure, to so many of us that it just takes seems like forever to get access to capital to open up to women on a higher and bigger scale.

Well you’re so right. And it depends on many factors as to whether women can access those dollars that are needed. And one of the issues we’re looking at this year as it relates to that subject is how we can increase the financial literacy of women in their quest to start a business and get it off the ground. Because many of the feedback cycles that we’ve heard from as we’ve conducted both in-person and virtual roundtables for the last two years has been in that area of women not being up to speed on basic business fundamentals and income statements and balance sheets and the kinds of documents that banks look for if they’re applying for a commercial loan or that investors really look for to make sure that that founder understands what is driving her businesses and whether they feel comfortable in investing their own money into that firm.

We have to make that shift and we have to make it ok to talk about money and to celebrate being profitable and creating jobs for others and being successful in business.

Well you’re so right. And even when it comes to ways to encourage people to invest in women-owned businesses, one of the things that we recommended last year and we’re very encouraged by was a bill that was introduced in Congress that would make a federal tax credit available to anyone that invested not only in a woman-owned small business but any small business because we felt that that would bring more local money to each community to assist not just the women in those communities who might like to get a business going but other minorities and male-run businesses as well. So access to capital can come in many different forms and in many different channels, and we hope that that legislation might actually see the light of day at some point this year.

 

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