The age-old adage “New Year, New Me” echoes in the birth of 2021 as we come to terms with everything that occurred in 2020. Though it might be easy to be gloomy — restrictions due to COVID-19 still hold across the world and the economy isn’t in the best of shape — there are many who hold big hopes for 2021.
More Americans planned to make New Year’s resolutions coming into 2021 than they did in 2020, according to a survey conducted by international research data and analytics group YouGov, underscoring a burgeoning hope permeating the land. Of those who have created resolutions to see them into the new year, 76 percent are taking them much more seriously than ever before.
It will come as no surprise that health-related goals are at the forefront — given the pandemic we’re living through — as reported by the same survey, but Americans are also concentrating on their finances. A hefty 52 percent of those surveyed will focus on personal finance goals, with Millennials and Gen Z focused particularly on their careers. With this in mind, we posed questions to female entrepreneurs (and guests of the SheVentures Podcast) spanning many different industries to discover how the pandemic impacted them and their business and what their ambitions are for 2021.
Roshawnna Novellus, Ph.D.
CEO of EnrichHER, an SEC- and FINRA-approved lending and support platform for women in business
The 2020 pandemic led to the first time I ever felt defeated since I started EnrichHER. Like many other business owners, the pandemic forced me to throw out my existing plans for 2020 and make a new one. I was frustrated about how difficult it was for women and people of color to receive financial support for their businesses. Experts were saying that as many as 42 percent of Black-owned businesses would close because of COVID-19. The numbers were devastating.
For two weeks, I stopped being inspired and gave myself the grace to accept my feelings. At the end of the two weeks, I asked myself, “Is everything really over, or is it time to pick myself up and keep going?” That day, I received two job offers and two sums of money from supporters. In my spirit, I knew that this was just a time of change and it was time for me to lean into my greatness.
We are incredibly grateful that we can continue helping underinvested entrepreneurs through difficult times at EnrichHER. The most exciting part is hearing from the customers. You can literally hear it in their voice or read it in their messages: the excitement that someone created a way to build generational wealth. It is so energizing and motivating.
In 2021, we want to expand our team in order to help even more entrepreneurs. One of the ways we’re doing so is by bringing on fellows from the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) program, which will position us to help even more Latina entrepreneurs gain access to capital. YLAI is a fellowship that empowers entrepreneurs and innovative civic leaders to advance their entrepreneurial ideas to contribute to social and economic development in their communities and regions. We are excited to collaborate with these talented women.
During the pandemic, I hunkered down at my home in Brooklyn, and without the time constraints of traveling to the office, I was more productive — while enjoying time with my teenage daughters who attended school remotely.
CentSai’s co-founder and I focused on a key business hurdle: how to productize our content across the financial literacy ecosystem. Developing that laser focus was a big win.
Our key challenge was financial: As small business owners, we experienced a ripple effect — other businesses were slow to pay us; in turn, we struggled to pay our team on time. Thankfully, today, we have more “breathing room.” While COVID itself was catastrophic, it did increase the need for online financial wellness and literacy solutions. Our sales and interest in our company continue to increase.
When we started CentSai, I had no idea how much entrepreneurship would take over my life. My co-founder and I have put in endless 14- to16-hour days, six- to seven–7 day weeks, and the punchline? We have not paid ourselves in four years to allow our company to grow. This year, I hope our revenue increases to a place where we can draw a salary, and I can step back from the day-to-day and work more on the editorial vision and strategic planning of our products. I also realize that balance is key to having the stamina to be an entrepreneur. It’s hard for me to believe that in my early 40s I was fit enough to run the NYC marathon. Now, at 50, I have to find my physical mojo again, as I think physical and financial wellness are intimately tied.
Co-Founder and CEO of Stackhouse
My business partner is also my life partner, and when the pandemic started we quarantined hard. I knew that I would need to find ways to increase my social circle and was delighted when my friend Vi Friebertshauser (founder of Homads) gave me an invite to Lunchclub. Lunchclub allows you to match with folks around the world to discuss your business, fundraising ideas, or just meet interesting people. At one point over the summer when we were doing our equity crowdfunding raise on Wefunder, I was doing four to six matches a week to practice my pitching skills and get intros to angel investors and VCs.
In addition to learning how to put myself out there in virtual spaces, I also (slowly, painfully!) learned how to actually relax. So much of the world slowed down last year and things I thought would go at a certain pace in our business just didn’t move. To help me cope, I created little pockets of joy in my personal world to look forward to — on Mondays, I read my horoscope from Chani Nicholas and copy it in my journal; I started playing Dungeons and Dragons on Zoom with Facebook friends Thursday nights; and on Saturday mornings I wake up early, drink coffee, and watch TikToks for as long as I want.
My financial ambition for 2021 is to raise enough capital to build the first Stackhouse Community — that will now be located in Denver! It is humbling to note that this was also my financial ambition for last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. My partner and I started Stackhouse in 2017.
We have never wavered from our vision of providing a unique and attainable solution to the housing crisis. Our hard work is paying off. This week we joined the Techstars Anywhere 2021 Class and for the next few months, we will be working with world-class mentors to hone our business, perfect our pitch, and raise the funds we need to build the future of real-estate.