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Money Master

Helping women overcome their Achilles' heel

Success in business requires mastering numerous skills. One of the most important is handling money. For many women, this is still a challenge-and that's why financial expert Jennifer Openshaw created a Web site to help women learn about personal finance.

"Women have different financial needs and concerns [than men]," says Openshaw, founder and CEO of the Women's Financial Network. "They didn't grow up talking about money, and they often feel less confident about making major financial decisions." WFN is a comprehensive Web site designed to provide personal financial information to women in a fun, easily digestible way. There's information on saving, investing, reducing debt, budgeting and planning for retirement.

We talked to Openshaw about the financial obstacles woman entrepreneurs face.

Entrepreneur: What money mistakes do women make when it comes to running their businesses?

Jennifer Openshaw: Women don't appreciate their exclusion from a culture that drives funding new businesses; so when they want to jump in and act, they need to listen to and learn about what is essentially a new language. They should find out who's who in the venture capital community and determine which venture capital makes the most sense for their business. If they focus and use their time and energy more effectively, they'll have higher success rates.

Women underestimate themselves but overestimate others. They can be strong, intuitive businesswomen, but they're sometimes afraid to ask the questions crucial to attaining their success.

Entrepreneur:It's been said that women don't know how to get funding. Why?

Jennifer Openshaw: The biggest hurdle is access; part of that is information. Venture capital is dominated by men. Women need to know funding sources and how to think through the structure of deals. They need to find business mentors who can bring support, contacts and negotiating skills to the table.

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This article was originally published in the September 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Money Master.

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