"Eleven million women own businesses in the U.S., and they're launching them at three times the rate of men," says Beth Schoenfeldt
"But women launch them for different reasons and in different ways than men.
Schoenfeldt is co-founder of Ladies Who Launch, a company that has helped more than 20,000 budding female entrepreneurs through its Web site, workshops, book and "incubator programs" in 45 cities.
explains that the number one reason women start businesses is because they want more independence and fulfillment in their lives.
"Men may envision starting a business with hundreds of employees, making millions of dollars," she
A desire to change her
own lifestyle that led Beth Schoenfeldt
, who was raised in Bryan, Texas, where her
father was a professor at Texas A&M
, to create Ladies Who Launch
, which provides the practical information, encouragement and community to help women start and expand their businesses and creative ventures.
"After Columbia Business School I was working my way up the corporate ladder at Clinique in New York," she says.
"Then I worked at series of dot.com start-ups and loved the energy, flexibility and creativity.
I knew that whatever I did next, I needed those components to be part of it."
Based on her experience with corporate training Beth started FLOinc, a company that led educational workshops for corporate employees.
"Some of my friends were thinking about launching businesses so we got together in what I dubbed an 'incubator' to network and lend each other moral support," she
In 2004 Beth
teamed up with Victoria Colligan, who had an online business with a similar intent.
Soon, thanks to national press and through email campaigns, Beth and Victoria expanded their incubator program from New York to 10 cities, licensing the leadership role in each city to women who already had successful businesses and wanted to help others.
"Irwin Dayan came to one of our New York events and said that he
ran a non-profit that lends money to Sephardic people who want to start businesses, but he'd had no luck with the women and wanted our help," recalls Beth
said, 'They come in and tell me their business idea, and when I tell them to go home and write a business plan they never come back!' I explained that it's hard for women to write a business plan before they've started something, that women grow businesses more organically, less linearly than men."
angel fund licensed the program and Beth
trained some women in the Brooklyn Sephardic community to lead an incubator there.
"They did a huge launch event at a synagogue, hundreds of women, the most amazing food," says Beth
"Some women have already launched businesses from it."
To learn more about Ladies Who Launch
, check out Schoenfeldt
and Colligan's book, Ladies Who Launch
: Embracing Entrepreneurshipas a Lifestyle (St. Martin's Press), published in May 2007, or go to www.ladieswholaunch.com.