SBA’s Kathy McShane on the Confidence Gap and Value of Mentoring

Kathy McShane, Assistant Administrator, SBA
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SBA’s Kathy McShane on the Confidence Gap and Value of Mentoring

The U.S. Small Business Administration was established after World War II with the goal of helping small businesses participate and thrive in our economy. Today, the SBA connects business owners with finance and education. Since its inception, the SBA has authorized millions of loans, and countless business consulting, training, and mentoring sessions across multiple groups and dozens of district and regional offices.

Kathleen McShane is the Assistant Administrator and proud leader responsible for overseeing SBA’s Women Entrepreneurship Centers across the country. According to the SBA, the WBC’s mission is to “provide advice, assistance, and assistance to promote, coordinate, and monitor the Federal government’s efforts to establish, maintain, and strengthen business driven by women in charge.”

Formerly the CEO and Founder of the Ladies Startup Club, an organization dedicated to providing mentoring and education to female entrepreneurs, McShane has spent much of her life and career to promote and support the economic activities and power of American women.

As an SBA leader, she is well positioned to continue that work and comments on the changing landscape for women in business and entrepreneurship today. In a recent phone call, she shared her views with us on what has and hasn’t changed for women in the workplace and her hopes for how the SBA can continue to support women in the workplace. support women in the future.

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Kathy McShane, Assistant Administrator, SBAKathy McShane, Assistant Administrator, US Small Business Administration

Fund box: The business landscape is always changing. In 2019, your top advice for women who not only want to grow their businesses, but actually thrive in environments or industries where female leadership may not be the norm?

Kathlen McShane: If you had asked me that question 10 years ago, I’m sorry to say the answer would have been pretty much the same.

There has been a lot of change in support for women who want to start or expand a business, but a lot Not changed about prejudices regarding women and the fact that women really don’t have access [to capital] that they need.

When I speak this way, I am saying in general terms, [from my experience]. I also believe that women don’t change full about how we see ourselves.
As much as it has to do with [gender] Prejudice [in business], largely related to the way women approach business, which is completely different from the way men approach business. That doesn’t mean one method is right and one method is wrong. It simply means that women approach things differently.

For example, we find that many women often don’t go into business to make a lot of money, while men [will say they] go into business to make money. Obviously that’s what they want to do.

The price to pay is lack of confidence

What’s different about the way the women you see approach business?

KILOMETER: For many women, their confidence levels can be lacking. [In my experience at the SBA], we think it’s anecdotal that Women’s Business Center (WBC) programs can boost their confidence. We did an annual study because we were instructed by Congress to talk about what we had done and the results, and I included a confidence question.

In our recent study, 76% of women strongly agree or agree that undergoing women-centered services has increased their self-confidence. [Editor’s note: According to a representative for the SBA, this survey was internal and has not been published.]

Confidence affects our success. For example, some women do not consider themselves worthy, which causes them to undercharge for their services. I said, “If you don’t have the confidence to charge me reasonably, why should I count on you to hire you?”

One of the things we worked on [my former company] The Ladies Kickstart Club, has really begun to change its mind.

When women work with others to boost their confidence, when they are willing to join a mastermind or peer group with peer mentoring, and let others challenge them and not feel defeated then, it’s a long way off.

Positive psychology as an important tool

You have been trained in positive psychology. Would you advise women business owners to see this as a way to change their minds?

KYUSA: Totally positive, women should be mentally positive, and that doesn’t mean you have to go to Penn like I did.

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I really wanted to start a business by giving seminars on positive psychology, that’s why I did it. I’m actually looking at putting some curriculum in our WBCs to really tackle positive psychology. It almost makes me want to start another business because it gives me goosebumps.

It has incredible power to change minds. It’s a way for you to see the world in a different way. We tend to be introverted, especially as women. We think everything is always our fault.

The protocol one uses in positive psychology makes you stop and ask yourself questions. “What is triggering this in me? What should I do to prevent it? ”

When you start thinking about these things, it becomes much clearer to see those barriers, so you can act on purpose.

Training, mentoring and what women achieve at WBC

Your work with the SBA and the Women’s Entrepreneurship Center is specifically focused on training and providing mentoring for women. What can female entrepreneurs gain from working with centers?

KILOMETER: There are a few things they can achieve. One is the confidence factor that I pointed out. From the same study I mentioned, 91% of respondents said that they would recommend WBC.

What women leave out is what I would describe as technical training. That includes [things like], how to market a product or service? How to use social networks? How do I use QuickBooks or any existing service? How do I write a grant application?

We work with women to help them do all these tactical things.

We also provide a safe environment where women can truly be challenged and not feel as though they are failures. Again, that requires a total mindset shift. Mastermind programs are incredible because it really puts a woman in charge. They are given homework and they have five or six other women in that program to provide a support system. They won’t come back without completing the exercise.

Peer advice is really helpful because in general, people with different experiences have completely different views. The blur is lessened because someone will say, “Wait a minute, that doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Some of our centers are actually testing women for mentors. Those mentors provide two things. One is a consultant, but they also become role models. Women don’t have too many role models. This fit solves that.

Why are mentoring and matching so important? What impact do you believe they will have?

KILOMETER: Again, women often don’t have mentors. When they decide to start or expand a business, they really feel that they are alone. Many people do not know where to go for help. If they have a mentor who says, “There are three or four or seven organizations out there that you should consider. Or of those seven things out there, this, given what your challenges are, is the best for you,” that is incredibly powerful.

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Those mentors will also challenge those women and they will challenge in a very positive way, which allows the woman to better understand her business proposition.

What is the SBA’s attitude toward promoting and supporting women’s entrepreneurship in general?

KILOMETER: The attitude of the organization is very supportive for entrepreneurs. McMahon Administrator has a certain loyalty to the female entrepreneur because she is one. She knows what it’s like. My group, Women’s Business Ownership Office, focusing only on women.

Having said that, if a man wants to be on the show, of course, we will accept them. Other SBA teams are more focused on where a business is in its lifecycle.

When it comes to companies in the financial industry, fintech companies like Fundbox or others, what do you think these companies can or should do to help promote financial inclusion, especially especially female business owners?

KILOMETER: I think the first thing is awareness. How do I make sure that my hubs are aware of people like you out there?

I like your project idea, [the What If whitepaper on the gender credit gap]. It is more important because it is educational. i want to send [information about this] for all of my WBCs so they can be educated about what’s out there.

We have more than 100 centers across the country. We plan, in early 2019, to open more. We are committed to helping. However, we like the idea of ​​working with others who have strong expertise in areas that my center may not have, and are willing to train my center on what is available.

About the women’s business center
Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) represent a network of more than 100 centers across the United States and its territories. WBCs are designed to support and educate women in starting and growing businesses. WBCs seek to “level the playing field” for female entrepreneurs, who still face particular obstacles in the business world.

The SBA’s Women’s Business Ownership Office (OWBO) oversees the WBC network, providing entrepreneurs (especially economically or socially disadvantaged women) comprehensive training and advice on a variety of topics in several languages.

To learn more about OWBO and locate WBCs by state, visit visit the SBA website.

To learn more about SBA loans to fund your small business, how to apply, and more, visit SBA or our guide to SBA loans.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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