Written By: Orly Margulis
Queen Bey said it herself, girls run the world! And luckily for us, our company is run by Chief Cookie Officer, Michelle Silberman.
There are many bumps in the creation of any startup, but according to TechCrunch, the sad reality is that only 17 percent of startups have a female founder. However, each year the number of female-founded companies increases! Our Chief Cookie Officer shares her experiences as a female entrepreneur and what it is like to own a woman-run business.
Michelle believes that a good investor should look past gender and see her as an equal. An investor should be someone that is investing a big chunk of money, as well as trust and advice. “I learned that when you ask for money, you get advice. And when you ask for advice, you might just get money,” Michelle said.
Yet, it takes a long time for Michelle to find an investor or ask for finances. According to the Wall Street Journal, men are more likely to earn more money than women, but women take better care of finances. Women receive only 7 percent of venture capital investment, and the approval rate of loans given to women is 15-20 percent less than men because of a clear gender bias. The Harvard Business Review studied the questions asked to women entrepreneurs versus the ones asked to men, and they discovered the questions were different depending on the gender of the founder.
Finding investors and receiving the capital for their company is not the only challenge women entrepreneurs face. Defying gender stereotypes is something women must face every day, especially when meeting new people. Even if women make more than 50 percent of United State’s workforce, females are not taken as seriously in the workplace.
Now imagine how hard it is for a woman who has to prove herself to the male population in her field, especially when certain careers - such as entrepreneurship - are dominated by men.
Men often believe women need their help to succeed, while women seek professional partnerships with mutual benefits. Michelle shares that during several networking events, she has been asked out by men because of her feminine appearance.
“Your image has to do with what your persona is for the company, and that has a lot to do with having a woman-run business,” she said. “I want my personal image to mirror Snackadabra's brand, which should be fun and funky,” Michelle continued.
Michelle dresses femininely, and she shared that on a few occasions in a networking setting, men think that it's appropriate to turn the conversation into flirting. “One time I was meeting someone who had a complimentary business, he made multiple attempts at turning it into a date. I was very professional and upfront with him, and once we finally met he understood I meant business and was interested in collaborating with his company, he apologized and in turn, he respected my drive. You have to stand up for yourself and show that being a woman is not a mere invitation for courting.”
On occasion, she has been advised to wear less feminine outfits or take out her nose ring when meeting people, but Michelle advises on being true to yourself. Staying sharp and making it clear that the relationships you are building are professional, helps a lot.
Michelle tries to attract people that are like her - the movers and shakers. She is a believer that if you show who you are, the right people will vibe at a similar frequency and show up.
Michelle has found people to invest in her brand with finances, advice, mentorship and time because they believe in her and the company as a whole. She shared that personal life relationships are influenced by her being a female entrepreneur. She wants people in her life who won’t feel emasculated, but will applaud her success and are constantly growing on a personal and professional level alongside her.
Although it is not easy to be a woman entrepreneur, our Chief Cookie Officer aims to turn this challenge into an opportunity to grow the business and the founder behind it. According to Inc.com, the number of companies on CrunchBase that have at least one female founder has quadrupled from 117 in 2009, to 555 in 2014. That’s right. The future is female!