For this week’s edition of FinanciElle “Statements”, I had the opportunity to interview Doris Belland, the Founder and CEO of Your Financial Launchpad.
The mission of Your Financial Launchpad is to help close the wealth gap between men and women. Doris hosts the Women’s Money Group, through Your Financial Launchpad, providing monthly financial education to women. She also hosts various financial literacy events. Mark your calendars for the two coming up in the fall:
- September 25th – Women’s Money Group Meetup on Investing: Understanding the Factors that Affect Your Returns
- October 30th – Women’s Money Group Meetup: How to Free Up More Cash and Create Money System that Works For You
I had heard about Doris Belland, and then I had the opportunity to hear her speak at the Women in Business Conference, where I promptly purchased her book, knowing that I wanted to both interview her and do a review of her book. This month’s FinanciElle Bookshelf review is of Doris’ book, “Protect Your Purse”.
Since Doris is both an entrepreneur and educates other women on Financial Literacy, I wanted to get her perspective on finance from both sides – as a female founder and female in finance.
Female Founder Perspective:
Paolina: What has been your hardest experience dealing with your business and finance and what did you learn?
Nearly twenty years ago, I inherited my husband’s business along with $400,000 of debt when my husband died of cancer. That experience changed the course of my life.
Previously, I had been a successful doctoral candidate, working on a fully-funded PhD. I walked away from my career to help my ailing husband. After his death, I spent two years working pretty much every day to pay back the debt. I pulled it off and I have since created a lovely life for myself. However, during that awful process I learned that a lot of women have no idea how financially vulnerable they are.
Women everywhere face difficulties when life happens simply because they have not created a strong financial foundation, including having important documents in place. It’s not about being educated or smart or successful, it’s about being prepared. The biggest risk comes from what you don’t know.
Paolina: What advice do you wish you had gotten about finance when you were first starting your business?
I wish someone had told me that you need to have two majors in life: your professional field and money. To really thrive, you must understand how money works. Money isn’t an end in and of itself; it’s a powerful tool that can accelerate the results you seek to achieve, both personally and professionally. It’s also a means of protection when the unthinkable happens.
Financial literacy should be taught in schools but it’s not, which means that it’s up to us to make learning about money a part of our lives.
A related bit of advice that I wish I had received is this: Don’t defer financial decision-making or management to the men in your life. You need to understand every aspect of your finances; you need to take control of your money. Delegate some bits? Sure. Abdicate? Never. The latter leads to a lack of self-confidence, which is already endemic in women.
Paolina: What topics would you want to learn more about when it comes to finance and your business and why?
I want to learn more about accounting. I have a reasonable but not deep understanding of accounting. I’ve not spent much time digging into it, mostly because I don’t really enjoy it – yet! As I grow my company to the national and, eventually, the international level, I want to ensure that I am better versed at reading financial reports.
Female in Finance Perspective:
Paolina: What is the most common finance issue you see within your business/with your clients?
The biggest issue for women, when it comes to personal finance, is that they lack self-confidence. I ran a research project last fall in which I spoke with seventy-eight women from coast to coast. The #1 problem for women, according to my study, is a lack of confidence, particularly when it comes to investing. This has consequences for women’s ability to build their wealth. It is also a contributing factor in the wealth gap between men and women
Paolina:What are three things that every business owner/entrepreneur should know/learn/understand about finance?
- Cash flow is key. In my work, I speak with a lot of self-employed women and one of the things that strikes me is how often cash flow is a big problem for them. From what I can see, they focus on selling their product or service without, at times, fully considering the factors that affect cash flow. Cash flow projections can help illuminate potential problem spots. When you compare your results to your projections, you can then start to figure out what the problems are. Are you selling the wrong product? Are you targeting the wrong demographic? Is there insufficient profit in your offering(s)? Does it take too long to realize profits? Take the time to fully analyze your cash flow.
- Return on Effort matters just as much as Return on Investment. It’s not just about how much profit a given investment of cash will generate for you; it’s also about how much time and effort you’ll have to put into the process to generate the profit. Two potential business paths may generate the same ROI in absolute dollars but vary greatly in the effort and stress involved. I have found that the following questions help me to weed out less attractive opportunities: “It this the best use of my time and skills?” Also, “Is this the best use of my money?” My best results have invariably happened when the answers to those two questions converge.
- Yes you can. It doesn’t matter if you feel you’re terrible with numbers or if you barely passed math class. If you feel intimidated by finance, bear this in mind: You don’t need to be a genius to learn finance basics that will serve you well in your entrepreneurial career. Keep telling yourself that you are capable of learning, give yourself the time to learn, and ask questions without worrying about how they sound. The most successful people are unabashed question askers.
I’ve seen this repeatedly over the past decade: When you step past fear and give yourself permission to learn, astonishing things happen.