Blog: Leader of the pack

April 1st, 2014 leader

Recently, a number of us at Crowe Soberman were fortunate to meet a young fashion designer and visionary leader and entrepreneur, Laura Siegel.

Laura is a Toronto native who launched her first socially conscious collection in 2012. Laura’s identity as a designer has been shaped in large part by her encounters with artisans in Kenya, Peru and India. These artisans, usually women, have practiced their crafts for generations. The sale of these pieces supports their families and in some cases sustains entire communities.

The sharing of knowledge between generations is both an economic and a cultural process; families and communities are built and strengthened by this grass roots entrepreneurialism, and Laura and her company have been able to provide guidance, structure and support to these women and their businesses.

What is important to note is the surprising number of commonalities between the stories of these artisans and Canadian women entrepreneurs.

Women retain ownership in almost half of the small and medium sized enterprises in Canada. In 2011, the economic contribution of female-owned business was an estimated $148 billion, with a forecast increase of 10 percent over the next 10 years, according to “Women Grabbing the Baton,” a recent RBC Economics Report.

There are as many reasons for starting a business as there are business start-ups. We know Canadian women tend to start businesses because they feel passionate about an idea and/or to make life better for their families, whether by providing more financial resources or more flexibility in terms of time. A 2012 Forbes article reinforces this, stating women tend to start businesses that “align with personal values and offer freedom and flexibility.”

Not only do women start businesses for reasons that may differ from men, women entrepreneurs tend to perceive or experience different impediments to growth than do their male counterparts. The RBC Economics Report states that female-led businesses face more impediments in obtaining financing for expansion. A wide-ranging British study identified “lack of sufficient managerial experience, capital and access to business networks” as posing particular challenges to women business owners.

At Crowe Soberman, we have been working with women business owners since the inception of our firm. In 2015, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of our Women for Women program, a networking and resource sharing program established to provide opportunities for our female professionals to get to know our female clients and colleagues better. As the firm with the highest percentage of women partners in our market, we have a special affinity for women business owners. Your successes are our successes.

Here, three of our female partners offer some ‘words of wisdom’ for women who are business owners:

“Women often negotiate more effectively for others than they do for themselves. As your business advisors, we understand your business and can provide perspectives and options you may not have considered prior to a big “ask” or negotiation. Another set of eyes always helps!” – Chandor Gauthier, Partner – Audit & Advisory

“It is important that woman entrepreneurs think globally in order to really expand their businesses to the maximum potential. Working with our affiliates around the world, I see multiple opportunities and enjoy using my expertise and connections to open up new frontiers.” – Karyn Lipman, Senior Partner – Tax

“Support and expertise that goes beyond simply understanding the financial results of your business is essential in order for you to continue to see your business grow.” – Debby Stern, Deborah Stern CPA Professional Corporation, Partner – Audit & Advisory

About the Author
Susan Hodkinson is the Chief Operating Officer and Human Resources Practice Group Leader at Crowe Soberman.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

(This article was originally published in the inFocus Spring ’14 Issue.)

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