As Chairman of Firo Communications, Elizabeth Gage dedicates her time to the promotion of entrepreneurism while developing her three companies: PCM Interactive, Sonic Mobile and Vortic Technologies. A respected pioneer in the area of multi-channel digital marketing solutions Elizabeth is passionate about IT in Marketing and in finding integrated solutions that benefit a customer. She holds an Honors Degree in English from Queen’s University and is a graduate of Business Entrepreneurship from MIT Sloan School of Management.
When I was a little girl my father used to whistle, and sometimes sing, this annoying song. The lyrics were “…she’ll learn to cook and to sew. What’s more she’ll love it I know…” but when I borrowed 10k from him to start a business and paid it back in two weeks I got his attention and our relationship changed.
My father was a lawyer and detail guy and I was a visionary, builder type. Our conversations were the same “what if” and “but have you thought of..” for many years. He was a balance for me. One of the last times I saw him in the nursing home he was having a moment of clarity “Bid! (the nickname he used to call me). How is that guy doing in Toronto you hired?” He had forgotten so much of his life at that point that it was amazing he had remembered my business expansion. The last thing he said to me as he pushed his wheelchair towards the nursing station was “I will hand in my room key and check out, you fetch the car”.
I have always wondered how my Dad, in his good days, might have advised me when a billion dollar company, one of Canada’s greasiest cultures, a monopoly with government ties, the only supplier in a industry, and run by a egotistical man who did not like me or successful women, deliberately orchestrated the overbilling of my company and forced me to shut down my successful company. Would Dad have rallied the legal team to take on the bullies defying the logic of the lawyers at that time that who strongly recommended against taking on a billion dollar company? They said at the time: “It doesn’t matter about the evidence of this wrong doing the legal fees to pursue justice will sink you”. I think he would have. He was a man of principal. Well one thing thing I learned is that when the legal system fails to defend, believe in natural law because it does not decern based on money and it always delivers.
The challenges of founding and growing a business as a woman entrepreneur are far different than those faced by men, for one thing you realize you are alone and are stuck small if you don’t have “Dad” or a suitable stand-in to accompany you to the bank. When I was awarded Woman Entrepreneur of the Yearhttp://pcminteractive.com/woman_ent_2008.html for Manitoba I thanked my all male management team because if I didn’t have them I would not have made it. A key ingredient to our success at that time was putting in place the financial instruments to support our growth. I hired a guy who arranged our million plus operating line at 4% because Dad was no longer available.
For a woman entrepreneur trying to find proper financing, whether that is start-up capital, a term loan, or receivables funding, the chance of success is akin to trying to find a needle in a haystack. It is astounding that only 3-5% of women-owned businesses get any Venture Capital funding and over 95% of all Venture Capital funding goes to companies with NO women founders. Yet women are driving the entrepreneurial sector. There are 7.6 million women entrepreneurs in the United States, generating over $1.2 Trillion in revenue each year. 40% of all privately owned businesses are owned by women. So why are we so badly ignored?
I don’t know. Perhaps it is time “…to learn to cook and to sew…” (I can hear that annoying whistling in my mind’s eye. UGG!).
On the other hand maybe there is hope. Here’s a educational video initiative supported by some trailblazing women in the US including Janet Hanson, the founder of 85 Broads in New York. As one of Goldman Saks’ first female directors, a survivor of breast cancer, Janet is a trailblazer and a supporter of women and women entrepreneurship all over the world. I attended a breakfast in New York several years ago and was amazed by her presence.
This 9 year old boy built an arcade at his father’s auto parts company. The sheer creativity and detail in the product and service is astounding. There is a part in the video where Caine is sitting quietly on the chair waiting for a customer. He did this every day. He never lost the belief that one day a customer would show up. To be an entrepreneur you have to believe when others don’t. It is an amazing story of entrepreneurship but with a very interesting twist.
Computational power is rapidly transforming every industry and device on the planet. From power grids, cars, appliances and waterways, the global transformation of processes and supply chains is underway. Going “Digital” refers to joining the list of some trillion devices that are making our planet smarter. And smarter means: keen business intelligence and analytics on the flow of markets and on how to be more efficient and more productive. It is also about meeting the needs of customers in real-time.
So what companies are leading this new brigade? Google? Apple? Microsoft? Well there is a surprise here. One of the players is IBM.
IBM was founded in 1880 and has been a survivor for decades. It began selling scales and clocks then evolved to developing powerful computers and global networks. What is extraordinary is that while many companies in the information age have come and gone, IBM has continued to evolve. They have kept up with the rapid pace of change by contributing innovations throughout the decades. And now they are a front runner in cloud computing solutions showing their customers hot to “Think IT, and Re-invent their Business”.
IBM’s Smart Planet Initiatives have resonated with leaders around the globe. They have reached out to more than 50 countries, both established and emerging, to public and private sectors, all to challenge the development and implementation of smart systems. IBM has even become fun. Yes, they use games as a way to educate their clients on how leading IT solutions can transform business.
But the real impact of IBM’s Smart Planet initiatives has been in the developing world. Thanks to IBM Dubai can now market themselves as safer and cleaner because they have integrated their systems and operations with more intelligence software and analytics to monitor public works, emergency and government services.
Here is a short video to show you how our new activities are leading also to new social interactions. The Internet of Things is no longer an idea but a reality.
If you have a child who exhibits entrepreneurial traits or if you want to foster entrepreneurial traits in your children this is a marvelous presentation made by Cameron Herold at TED. It is never too late to get started. Entrepreneurs not only create a job for themselves but also for others. It is time to stop grooming more lawyers, doctors and accountants and start grooming more creative business builders. Our economic future depends on it.
What drives engagement through Facebook, Twitter and the social channels? When it comes to effective social marketing consumers want to know that companies are committed to a quality relationship and that they care. To avoid “unfan” “unlike” and “unsubscribe” marketers need to realize that the definition of “engaging” and “appropriate” varies by channel. This point couldn’t have enough emphasis given the fact that 50% of consumers stopped following a company when the posts were too frequent and too boring. There couldn’t be a better time than the present to extol the virtues of personalized marketing. Better still, start to implement as part of your social strategy. Here’s an interesting video on current social media statistics and trends.