What do women around the world think is the most important component to their personal business model?
Last year, I interviewed 53 accomplished women for my research paper “Smart Women: How Do They Make Money?” released on 8 March 2022. In celebration of International Women’s Day 2022, I thought I’d share some examples of how women in various countries and cultures think about business models and how this has contributed to their business success.
Some women think about their personal business model as a mindset for approaching work in a strategic way:
Become a known brand
“When I think about my personal business model, I think of the importance of branding yourself and making sure to be clear about both what you can do and what you are known for. I put all of my time and effort into doing the best I can, and I focus hard on understanding what I need to know and who I need to know in order to progress. I’m selective with my time and I say no to a lot of things.” — Jessica Chan, Investor Solutions Lead, JLL, Hong Kong, SAR
Have a guiding principle
“My personal business model is built around a mindset. I look at myself as an income-earning asset! I’m in the prime period of my career and my guiding principle for years has been to increase my income by 10% to 15% annually. Whether I’m in a performance appraisal for an existing job or a new job, I look to negotiate that percentage increase in my salary.” — Joelle Pang, General Manager, FastJobs Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Be the go-to person
“My personal business model is built around my desire to be ’best in class.’ I strive to be a highly credible source of information and I hold myself to an exacting moral standard. In my role, I facilitate introductions between senior people, such as chief investment officers and institutional fund managers. I’m the go-to person for clients, investors, and anyone in our ecosystem looking to benchmark their investment process or meet potential partners, all of which requires a high level of personal and business discretion. If any of these stakeholders are asked ‘Who do I talk to?’ They’ll say, ‘I talk to Marsha Larned.’” — Marsha Larned, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Institutional Investor, Hong Kong, SAR
Others think of their personal business model as a deliberate way of working in order to achieve financial success, such as coming up with frameworks and platforms, or collaborating with others:
Use frameworks and platforms
“My personal business model is aligned with a consultancy business in that I sell my time. As a coach specializing in business psychology, I advise entrepreneurs and founders on their journeys. From the start, I realized that in order to create value I had to think about platforms and work with collaborators that would generate growth. For example, I work with Novo Nordisk Foundation as part of their accelerator program. They go in and invest with multiple start-ups and I go in and coach the founders of seven to 10 start-ups. Moving forward I’d love to do more research and come up with frameworks and platforms that others could use.” — Cecilie Willer, Founder Coach, Today.io, Copenhagen, Denmark
“I always look to collaborate: My entire career has been based on spotting and maintaining collaboration opportunities and making sure there is value for both sides. I invest in collaboration not just in the project itself. This requires hard work, and for any project I work on, I put together a stakeholder map. I list all of the relevant stakeholders in my ecosystem, then I identify potential win/win engagements, and then I try to build relationships accordingly. Collaborating helps you to deliver more efficiently by relying on other people’s resources and expertise.” — Dona Haj, Head of EMEA Ventures and Tech Ecosystem, MathWorks, London
For many other women, a personal business model is more of a holistic approach to money-making that includes her personal philosophy around elements such as lifestyle, health, and happiness:
“In coming up with my personal philosophy around money, I started with an end in mind. I asked myself this question ‘What kind of lifestyle do I want to have?’ This involved reflecting deeply on what types of experiences I wanted, how many trips per year, what type of house and car I’d like, and how do I want to spend my time. Once I had put a number next to everything I wanted to have, I worked backwards to get to my money goal and I quite quickly realized it wasn’t such an astronomical figure. I love cycling and hiking and neither are particularly expensive sports! Having a clear understanding of my money goal gives me the peace of mind to live the lifestyle I want.” — Aleksandra Efimova, CEO, FLX® Stretch Training and Russian Pointe, Palm Beach, Florida
“I don’t have a business model per se, at least in the traditional sense of having external clients, revenue, and value propositions. I have a far simpler life model. After much research, I have discovered that there are three things that make me (and most of us) happy: good health, deep relationships, and meaningful work. I’ve ensured I have good physical and mental health. I’ve developed a few deep friendships. And I’ve realized that ‘meaningful’ for me means working on ‘hard problems’ in my line of work. I like working on problems that no one else has succeeded at.” — Hansi Mehrotra, CFA, Founder and Financial Wellness Coach, The Money Hans, Mumbai
“It’s important to have a ‘happiness model’ layered on top of one’s ‘business model’ and figure out how to maximize happiness as well as career goals. What motivates me is intellectual and emotional engagement versus the biggest paycheck or payoff. I’d like to think this is a good way to approach life.” — Judy Blumstock, Founder and CEO, Diamond Therapeutics, Toronto
Personal business models are personal! How we develop our mindsets, our strategies, and our philosophies around work and money making is unique. And as we evolve, our personal business models evolve with us.
To accelerate women’s inclusion in the investment management profession, CFA Institute has launched a comprehensive voluntary Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Code for the Investment Profession in the United States and Canada (“DEI Code”). Click on the banner to find out more.
For more on this topic, read the full report “Smart Women: How Do They Make Money?” by Barbara Stewart, CFA.
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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.
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