Over the last couple of years I have met with many women who are my age and are thinking about a new career. The good news is that these women want to do something meaningful that is not in the non-profit arena. I am not dismissing the importance of philanthropic work but for some reason women tend to gravitate towards that vs the profit world once they start to make career changes. They want to sit on those boards and make a difference. I believe there are other ways to make a difference.
I have told this story several times but not in writing. Years ago I spoke at an event for about 100 women. Most of these women came out of the banking and legal arena. Afterwards two women came up and said “we want to do what you are doing.” They followed up and we got together to talk. They had both been financially successful in their own right and were looking to put their capital to work by angel investing. This was music to my ears.
I talked to them about two deals I had currently committed to and still needed capital. They were concerned that they did not know anything about the business. I started to ask them questions. Ends up that when you are our age that you know a lot more than you realize. Experience is worth a lot. They got excited and started to ask a million questions from what is a note and how does it work to what percentage would they own of the business. Once they started to wrap their arms around what it meant to invest in a start-up at the early stages they began to hem and haw.
Hem and hawing is understood. When will we make our money back, will we make our money back, what kind of returns will we really get, etc., etc. I finally said to them, “how much money did you spend on your holiday vacation this year”? That was the “aha” moment. The amount of money they were putting into these two companies in total was probably a bit less than what they have spent on their vacations. I followed up with you are making an impact in a women entrepreneurs business. You will help her grow her business. You will learn about the start-up world. Most important you will feel empowered that you were able to do this. You will be making a difference.
They both pulled the trigger and have done almost a dozen deals with me since. They now they have a whole crew of women who also want to do what they are doing. I am going to put together a breakfast this fall and invite them all. I want each of them to understand the process. What they are investing in and why. How they should think about it. I don’t want to be responsible for their dollars or decisions. I want each of them to feel empowered to do their own investing. This is going to be fun.