Your company may not be of the size that would qualify you to join these organizations, but not to worry, there are alternatives. As luck would have it, I reconnected with a networking buddy last week, Tanya Alvarez, who started an organization that does peer advisory groups, OwnersUP, for companies as small as $30,000 and as big as $500,000. What I love about her model is that she does it online using Google Hangouts. This allows anyone in the U.S. or the world to join a group and they have. OwnersUP groups are smaller (five business owners), meetings are shorter (one hour and 15 minutes), and meetings are more frequent (weekly) compared to other mastermind groups. The members I met at a recent in-person event reported dramatic increases in revenue in pretty short order.

Another option is to assemble a board of advisers to provide advice, inform you of current and future marketplace trends, facilitate funding, recruit talent or suggest alliances. Here are eight tips to create an effective advisory board.

Only you can control the future

The Census was taken in 2012 and it doesn’t reflect the promising signs of growth that I’ve seen over the last three years. In 2014, 28% of all companies receiving funding were women-run, a substantial 44% increase over the previous year. I’m also excited by the venture community efforts that I wrote about here and the additional steps that were announced at the White House Demo Day. Initiatives aren’t just national. New York City, where I’m based, has recently formed WE NYC for underserved communities.

But of course not all recent trends are encouraging. Equity crowdfunding, which was suppose to level the playing field for women, is not living up to its potential. Women entrepreneurs are sitting on the sidelines. While 38% of all companies seeking angel investment offline are women-led, only 18% are in the online world, according to the Center for Venture Research and Crowdnetic, respectively. Last spring I completed research aimed at providing insight to fix the problem for both sides of the equation — women entrepreneurs and investors: Stand Out In the Crowd: How Women (and Men) Benefit From Equity Crowdfunding.

Improvement has happened and will continue to happen because men and women are making a conscious decision to make it happen.

*The Census defines a woman-owned business as one where a woman owns 51% or more of the business equity or stock.

 

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