6 Reasons Why I Think Women Are Superior in Business

(written by a man)

I'll be the first to admit it- I have always considered women to be the stronger sex.  And, no I'm not the product of a single mother household, nor was I raised by a a colony of fair maids and maidens on the Island of Lesbos.  In fact, I had about as predictably a male oriented household as one could imagine growing up in a New York suburb. My dad, a blue collar worker, came home every night to dinner on the table plated before him by my dear mother. And while my mom did manage to squeeze in a part time job, all the while doing her full time 'volunteer' work of all the laundry, all the cleaning, helping with homework, balancing the bills, running errands, shopping, playing the role of nurse, doctor, therapist, tutor, art teacher, music tutor, my opinions of women have actually been formed by my experiences since I left home.

Having been a business owner for over 25 years, I have at times considered myself quite the visionary.  I have invented and dreamed up more products and services than I can remember..  In companies that I have owned, I have never been in short supply of brilliant ideas that can take our profits to the stratosphere.  Nary a quarter has gone by without me proclaiming that I would double, triple or even quadruple our business over the next six months.  As an entrepreneur I am literally brimming over with self confidence. I'm driven by the utmost belief in my super human abilities to convert anything I dream up into reality.  No one can stop me once I put my mind to it. I am a genius. A legend. A true captain of industry destined for greatness. 

But let's be real- that's just the testosterone speaking.

In reality, and left to my own devices, I am capable of mucking up almost anything I put my mind to.  Especially in business. I think fast and act fast, which is usually a recipe for crashing fast. If left unchecked, my male dominated ego will seek out the fastest and easiest solution to whatever problem at hand.  Sales down this week? Let's double our advertising budget! Employees not getting along? Get over it! Can't get to work during a blizzard? Don't you own skiis?! Not enough visitors to the website? Make another blog post! (kidding.)

Lucky for me, my CFO is a woman.  Sure I'm the name at the top of the company pyramid, but I'm really just a figurehead.  She runs the show. The whole show.  What she says, I do. And I wouldn't have it any other way.  I couldn't have it any other way.  I'd be flipping burgers if I didn't have the good sense to run anything and everything by the woman behind the curtain. And I'm not guessing this is true, I know from experience it is true.  As an entrepreneur my failures far outnumber my successes.  In fact I'm batting about .090 lifetime overall.  However, now that I have a proper batting coach, I'm Ted Williams, Babe Ruth and Derek Jeter all rolled up into one.   My business is solvent. It may be boring, but it's solvent. And it's not just at the top of my company structure either. Of all the employees I've ever had at one time or another, the best performing have almost always been women (and in sales positions, it's not even close). In my humble opinion, women should be running more companies than they currently are (although that is trending upwards), and should be in far more positions of influence in industry, business, politics, and commerce.

Here are six reason why I think so:

1. Women Focus on Results, Not Credit.

At the annual holiday party I'm the one who gets to sit at the head of the table. I get to make the fantastic toast congratulating everyone for another good year. As CEO, I am the face of the company and so I get the glory when we are successful.  However, my CFO put the wheels in motion literally months ago that made all the success possible. The advertising budget and growth strategy she devised have paid off in dividends. And the female sales reps? Yeah, they were tops in performance this year. Again. Why? Probably because are focused on high paychecks, not high fives.

2. Women are Fantastic Listeners.

It's no longer conjecture. There are now numerous scientific studies that demonstrate differences between the way men's and women's brains are wired. Women's brains are very well-connected across hemispheres in the region of the cerebrum. Given what we know from previous functional studies of this organ, this means women are typically better then men at using their intuitive right hemisphere and logical faculties in the left at the same time (men's brains are better connected within hemispheres).  In my own experience as a salesman I'm oftentimes thinking about what I am going to say next while I'm supposedly listening to someone. When I walk the floor of the sales office, it's always the men who are yammering away, while the women are quietly listening to their clients needs.

3. Women Plan Better.

I was chatting to a female counterpart on an industry forum page recently about a new idea I had. As the conversation went on she started asking me asking questions about my business model, what sort of competition I'd be facing, the immediate and long term needs of my customers, and what marketing plans I had in place. I explained that I hadn't gotten around to worrying about those kind of details yet and tried to steer the conversation back to how was passionate I was for my idea. Again came the questions not about the idea, but about its implementation.  At first it seemed as though she was poo-pooing my idea outright. But she wasn't. She thought it was a great idea, but had already moved past the exitement of it all and was thinking about how it could work.  It was then that I realized I have had that same experience many times when brainstorming with women.  It isn't that they are dispassionate about things, its just that they are way more practical.  

5. Women Are (usually) More Trustworthy.

Judas of Isceriat, Benedict Arnold, Richard Nixon, Steven Glass, Kenneth Lay, Lance Armstrong, Mark McGwire,  Alex Rodriguez, Bill Clinton,  Bill Cosby, Joe Nacchio, Jeffrey Skilling, Robert Rubin, Chuck Conway, Angelo Mozilo, Bernie Madoff, Donald Trump, every thieving manager in the music industry ever, the Amway dudes, most of Congress, most politicians,  those guys at Wells Fargo, most mortgage brokers, most of the people working in my industry etc. See a trend anyone?  This isn't to say that women can't lie or don't lie. But all things considered, I mean seriously.

6. Women Are Used to Overcoming Difficulties.

The first time I ever heard the expression "glass ceiling" was when Hillary Clinton ran for president in '08. I was 34. Although the term had only been in use since the 1980's women have been blasting through one glass ceiling after another for centuries.  From the first woman doctor in the US (Dr. Elizabteh Blackwell 1849) through the right to vote (1920) to the first legitimately elected female president (yeah I just said that) women have had to overcome the prejudice, resistance and sexism of a male dominated world time and time again. New data shows that 60% of undergraduate degree holders are now women, yet they still earn 33% less than their male counterparts.  So essentially, a woman has to be a third more productive to earn the same paycheck as a male counterpart in the same position. So those female sales reps from #1 above? That's right- they are killing it.

And so, to every female in the workforce- from CEOs to office cleaners, teachers, firefighters, doctors, lawyers, nurses, clerks, builders, race care drivers, and to every other women on planet earth who tolerates the messes you have to deal with day in and day out by your male counterparts (sippy-cup spills to massive oil spills)- I salute you.

It's that time of year again- TAX Season

So you own a small business and you’re not a tax expert. That’s okay. Your focus is on your business, not on tax rules and regulations. As a result, tax time can be a time of panic and stress as you scramble to get receipts together in order to meet deadlines and avoid penalties. There are other opportunity costs associated with doing taxes yourself, likely a combination of increased expense for the last minute help of a professional tax expert, forfeiting deductions, additional stress, and most importantly, taking time away from your business.

The key to minimizing tax woes is to treat taxes like any other business practice: as an ongoing process that needs attention throughout the year in order to be successful. When you begin to think this way, preparing for tax time on a continual basis will allow you to focus on what you’re passionate about: growing your business.

As a former small business owner, I know first-hand how difficult tax preparation can be.  What ultimately helped me make tax season more manageable was using technology to help automate my processes and finances, and working with a professional. With that in mind, I’ve listed out eight tips that will help you prepare for tax season all year long.

1. Get started now – After you complete your 2016 taxes, schedule time on your calendar to establish better habits for next year and beyond. You may have promised yourself last year that you’d never again wait until the last minute to file taxes, but just like anything else, life happens and things fall through the cracks. Make the commitment to do better while the most recent tax season is fresh in your mind.

2. Ditch the shoebox – Collecting receipts in a shoebox or other container is highly inefficient and can make year-end even more stressful. Do you even know what’s in there? Can you find it?  Start recording everything electronically so you’ll have an archive ready when it’s time to file next year.  And, since now all your information is stored electronically…

3. Back up your electronic records – What would happen to your data in the event of a man-made or natural disaster? Backing up your records and files on a routine basis to a remote location, like in the cloud, saves valuable business information. You can back up on-site as well, but it’s important to keep information stored away from the office.  The IRS won’t forgive you because your records are missing, so be sure to have a contingency plan, just in case.

4. Work with an accountant – An accountant can be a trusted advisor throughout the year to help you plan properly for tax season. This partner can also provide sound business advice throughout the year, as many have specific industry expertise. Build a relationship with an accountant that you trust so that you can tap into this expertise all year long. Your bottom line will thank you.

5. Use online banking – Most banks let you download all of your transactions. Go in every month and mark the transactions that are tax deductible. When next spring rolls around you’ll have a comprehensive list of tax deductible items ready to go.

6. Automate the accounting process – If you aren’t using an accounting solution, it’s time to consider one.  For me, software was instrumental in driving efficiency and accuracy all year long. When I operated my business, I used installed desktop software, but now there are many online solutions available.  Using online accounting will eliminate the need to invest a large amount of money upfront and you’ll always have access to the latest version of the tool. Your accountant can help you determine the best fit, and bonus points if the solution lets your accountant have access to your real-time data.

7. File online – It makes good sense to file your taxes online as it’s faster, is less prone to errors, and in many cases, it’s the law. There are certain forms that are required to be filed electronically, which is where your accountant comes in with an understanding of specific tax requirements for small businesses.

8. Don’t be late – How do you ensure you’re not late for regular meetings or appointments? You likely have them marked in your calendar and you prepare in advance. Do the same thing when it comes to filing taxes, otherwise you might face hefty penalties; ones that could be avoided with the proper planning.

 

The Best Holiday Office Party We Ever Had

The year was 2001.  The nation was still reeling and somber following the 9/11 attacks.  For us New Yorkers, it was especially hard.  Although the attacks on the towers were 3 months removed, the mood in the company was still pretty sad, and it was this way all over the city.  The site at Ground Zero was still mostly rubble, and the surrounding blocks were not yet cleared away enough for a return to daily life. It was hard to get into the holiday spirit.

Our firm had always been a fun place to work, our office vibe was pretty loose and we always maintained quality of work/life balance long before such a thing became trendy.  Everyone got on really well and there was definitely a family feel to the company in those days.  It was not uncommon for the office to close a little early on a random day and for the employees to meet out somewhere for dinner drinks and good conversation. We celebrated birthdays, baby showers, promotions, Fridays.

Being a fun bunch of people, the event that was looked forward to more than any all year was the annual office holiday party.  We always went all out with the decorations, fancy food and drink, and the 'Secret Santa'. And best of all, management was very generous when it came to holiday bonuses.  Our bonuses were certainly not of the oft reported (and embarrassingly so) Wall Street variety that could finance a small war (we were after all, just a small non profit at the time). Still, they were, even by our company's revenues standards, pretty nice.

But this year things were different.  Aside from the overall malaise from the attacks, our business suffered an almost 2 month lack of any new business.  The bonuses were not going to be anything like they were in the past.  In fact, we toyed with the idea of not having any at all. But in the end we decided we would give them even if we had to borrow the money to do so. They were just going to be a little light this year. Even a smaller bonus is better than no bonus.

We scheduled a meeting the 2nd week of December to announce the date of the holiday party and to give the news that the bonuses would not be what people were used to receiving.  During the meeting I addressed my company and gave the bad news myself.   I felt pretty lousy having to tell people I cared about deeply they were going to be shortchanged this year. And of course I expected some push-back, disappointment, and even protest.  It would be understandable.  After all people come to rely on end of year bonuses as part of their annual salary.

And protest they did. But not in the way I expected it;

Every employee, without exception, voted to donate his or her bonus to charity.

At the holiday party (which was very toned down) I never saw a happier bunch of people.  We still did our Secret Santa. Gag gifts abounded (I was given a paint by numbers book and the ugliest tie you ever saw).  We ate, we drank, we danced and we sang.  But mostly we rejoiced. We rejoiced in being a part of the true 'spirit of Christmas'.  The spirit that says 'it's better to give than to receive'.  The spirit that says 'somewhere out there someone has it a lot worse than we do'.  The spirit that says 'we haven't forgotten you.  And we never will'.

Neither will I.