Throughout our careers, both Katie Burke and I (Bridget Grimes) have dealt with toxic business environments and have faced gender discrimination and ageism. We have heard it all: too aggressive, too ambitious, too idealistic.
And our experiences aren’t unique — they mirror what women across our industry face. At traditionally run, male-dominated financial planning firms, women lack mentors, role models, and opportunities for growth.
These frustrations led both Katie and I to launch our own financial planning practices before we knew each other — Katie’s being Method Financial Planning in Pennsylvania and mine being WealthChoice in California. We found that if we wanted to change the outlook for female financial planners, we had to do it ourselves. The system was broken.
When Katie and I met each other later and found that we had similar values and goals, we created Equita Financial Network, a registered investment advisor (RIA) network for women-led firms, in May 2018. Having celebrated our one-year business anniversary earlier this summer, here are some tips we’ve learned along the way on how to build a business on your own terms.
Define your mission
Katie and I founded Equita Financial Network because we wanted to empower women financial planners and change the industry.
When defining our mission, we decided on three main pillars: 1. Offer community, 2. Close the wage gap through our platform, and 3. Enhance the quality of people’s lives. This mission has been our north star as we’ve built our business.
Achieve what you want
It can be challenging fighting expectations and creating your own definition of success. But don’t get distracted by other people’s opinions.
As Maren Hogan of Red Branch Media noted in The Muse, everyone will have unsolicited advice: “No one told me just how opinionated others would be about my business. People will come out of the woodwork with what they believe to be sage advice, when they’ve never even been in my shoes. People who have had corporate jobs all their lives will tell you exactly what you should be doing to run your business. Just nod and smile.”
Business goals aren’t the only thing to consider when starting a company. What do you want to achieve personally? Do you want the ability to spend more time with family, travel, work from anywhere? Your personal goals are just as important.
While running your own business can be fulfilling and freeing, it can also be unpredictable. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, only about 50 percent of small businesses survive five years or longer.
As Inc.com notes, “Make sure to take some time each week to think about the long-term health of your business. Think about the goals you’ve set and how you’ll get there. Do you need to invest in marketing or employee development and training, for instance? Planning for the future will help ensure that your business is around for a long time.”
Equita Financial Network has created a network for female financial planners to grow and connect, and for clients to get trusted and experienced financial advice. If you’re interested in becoming an Equita member firm or working with one of our firms’ financial advisors, contact us today.