Blog | Personal Finance

8 Differences Between Men and Women in Business and Investing

A change in mindset can bring out the Rich Woman in you

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Think back to 2008 — ahh yes, not the best year to recall. We were in the middle of the great recession, times were uncertain, and we faced a lot of economic turbulence. And that’s why I wrote and released the book Rich Woman during that same time period — I wanted to write a book that spoke to women everywhere facing these financial difficulties, and give them the mindset and confidence to take control of their future.

As I wrote in my book, I believe there is a Rich Woman in every woman. Being a Rich Woman has nothing to do with the amount of money in your bank account or your job title. Rich Woman is a mindset, a perspective that shapes your actions, a desire to be in control of your life and finances and not depend on anyone else to take care of you. It’s realizing that a man is not a financial plan and learning how to achieve financial independence.

Though it's been more than a decade, that mission remains the same. While some women have bravely taken steps toward creating financial freedom (women own 42% of all companies in the United States), others continue to sit back on the sidelines and watch life pass them by. There's still a lot of work to be done, and the Rich Woman message is timelier than ever. The specific message I’d like to focus on today — as we close out Women’s History Month — is that of entrepreneurship.

There’s simply no reason women need to bother with clawing their way up the corporate ladder. They don’t need to follow in someone else’s footsteps or take the path laid out for them. Instead, women are far better served forging a new trail toward their own definition of success (whether that’s a specific amount of money, quality time spent with your family or anything else that brings you joy) and building their own ladder to the top.

Yes, women were born to be entrepreneurs — it’s in our DNA. So, what are the differences between men and women in business that gives us natural entrepreneurial qualities? Consider the following traits we excel in, that translate directly to success in the business world:

  1. Women are open and honest

    Ever notice how most men refuse to go to the doctor when something’s wrong? That’s because they are afraid that admitting they have a health problem will threaten their masculinity. They figure if they don’t discuss or acknowledge it, it’ll go away. Well, the same reaction often happens in business — men don’t want to discuss what’s wrong because the potential for failure damages their egos.

    Women, on the other hand, are much more likely to be open about their fears and problems. Our ability to share our feelings, without worry for our ego, makes it easier for others to lend a helping hand or offer advice that could save the day. The better your ability to communicate the truth, no matter how ugly or scary, the more likely your business is to succeed.

  2. Women build stronger relationships

    Another one of the differences between men and women in business is that women forge stronger relationships. We form tighter bonds with everyone, from our employees to our vendors to our customers. Part of this is due to our more open style of communication (see #1 above), and I believe another part is due to our ability to show more empathy. We are naturally more in tune with others’ feelings, which can go a long way toward building strong connections, and gaining trust and respect. And this is just another reason why it’s so important for women to discover the power of networking by joining communities filled with other female entrepreneurs.

  3. Women do more with less

    Women have had a lot of experience making something out of nothing — we’ve been told “no” many times in our lives, we’ve been excluded from important golf outings with our male colleagues, we’ve been given less budget and shorter timeframes to complete projects, and we’ve been stuck with a lower salary and fewer promotions than our male counterparts.

    A study published in Venture Capital shows that women are less likely to ask for outside funding than their male counterparts — and a study by Fundera reveals that female entrepreneurs who do seek funding ask for roughly $35,000 less than men do.

    And do you know what all of those challenges and obstacles and hardships have done for us? They’ve made us stronger, smarter, more resourceful and more motivated. We’ve had to get creative and think outside the box when it comes to problem solving. We’ve had to lean on each other for help. We’ve had to negotiate our hearts out. We will work tirelessly to shine.

    These differences between men and women in business is only the tip of the iceberg. Here are four advantages that make women great investors (in case you’re thinking about going that route). Anything men can do, we can do better!

  4. Women are more resilient

    Call it our intuition, call it the woman’s touch, call it whatever you want, but it’s a fact: women make better leaders than men in business and investing.

    At least, that’s according to Quantopian, a Boston-based trading platform. They ran a simulation comparing the performance of Fortune 1000 companies with women CEOs between 2002 and 2014 against the S&P 500’s performance during the same period. The results showed that 80 percent of women CEOs during that 12-year period produced 226% higher returns than the S&P 500.

    Two of the women CEOs in particular increased the initial investment used within the simulation by more than 500%. You can read more about the simulation here.

    One of the theories behind the surprising results is that women run businesses outperform those of men because of their work ethic. Women have to work harder to climb the corporate ladder than men do.

  5. Women are better financial planners

    According to a study performed by the Wells Fargo Investment Institute, women achieved higher returns than men between 2010 and 2015, regardless of their experience. Michelle McKinnon of Payne Capital Investment claims, “Women have the ability to think more about the long-term than the short-term. When it comes to investing, that is critical. I've found men tend be more focused on the day to day moves while women acknowledge volatility as short term and move past it.”

    Ironically, however, even when women tend to have a better ability to forecast investment opportunities that will yield a higher return, they still defer investment decisions to their spouse.

    McKinnon continues, "Maybe it's because she doesn't want her significant other to feel less important. But this just doesn't make good financial sense for the future. With women on average having longer lifespans, we'll have to manage our finances eventually."

    Referencing the same study, Lou Cannataro of Cannataro Park Avenue Financial in New York, adds that women traditionally are better savers than men.

    Even when comparing the differences between men and women and how they invest in their corporate sponsored retirement plans, women tend to save almost a full percentage point more than men, who tend to trade away the difference. The fees associated with doing trades will often eat away at those savings.

    According to Lou, "For the most part women over men seem to approach planning in general with much more enthusiasm and commitment early on life," he said. "They do want to talk about creating the ability to be financially independent and strive to make the right decisions early on in life. They want to be ahead of the curve in terms of planning for buying a home, possible wedding and children."

  6. Women are team players

    It’s in our nature to be highly communicative, inclusive and willing to share. When we don’t know something, our egos don’t prevent us from finding the answer — either by asking questions or doing research. And we love to share what we’ve learned with our peers because we know there’s no “I” in team.

  7. Women do their homework

    Sure, we may sometimes trust our gut, but we balance that with taking the necessary time to do our due diligence. It’s incredibly important to research the sector you’re investing in, pay attention to red flags, ask a lot of questions and keep pushing until you get the answers you need.

    Plus, we do a better job of reading people and their body language, so we can pick up on alarming unspoken cues. A 2008 study from the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that men who feel they are being observed and judged by their peers (often other men) tend to make riskier choices in order to assert their dominance. Conversely, women tend to bring more consistent decision-making patterns to all situations. Testosterone must be a tricky beast to tame.

  8. Women are patient

    When comparing likelihood to buy/sell stocks, Fidelity’s client data revealed that men are 35 percent more likely to make trades than women. We don’t feel the need to constantly fiddle with things, and are content to watch things unfold because we did our homework ahead of time. By being more selective and evaluating our moves in advance, we aren’t penalized by things like excessive trading fees eating away at our portfolios. Focusing on buying and holding (after doing the appropriate research to determine the viability of that plan) can lead to far greater long-term wealth.

Discover the Rich Woman in you

Even though we have these eight major advantages in our corner, a woman’s success in investing largely comes down to one simple trait: confidence. It’s a smart plan to start out slowly, with smaller investments, and build your portfolio methodically over time.

The smaller the investment, the less risk. That’s why I started with a two-bedroom house in Portland, Oregon, for my first investment. Back then, it was terrifying to purchase that property, because that few thousand dollars I invested was a lot of money at the time. But after the first investment went well, our confidence increased. Robert and I graduated to investing in small, single-family homes. As our confidence soared, we purchased a six-unit apartment building. And today, we own more than 1,000 apartment units.

Throughout my career, I’ve capitalized on these eight beneficial feminine traits. I shared my learnings with other entrepreneurs in my support team, namely a small group of men and women. I did a ton of research, read books, attended seminars, and learned from trusted coaches and mentors to make sure I was well versed in the investments I was considering. And I practiced patience, by holding onto my investments for the long haul because I know cash flow is queen.

Believe me, you have a Rich Woman inside you who is waiting to be free. A Rich Woman creates the life she wants and deserves, achieving freedom and confidence and enjoying all the things the world has to offer. Change your mindset, feed your spirit, and let your Rich Woman soar!

All fired up but not sure where to begin? Explore these five ways to start a business without quitting your job or sign up for free investing classes today.

Original publish date: January 18, 2017

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