Men dominate the corporate world to a very large extent. There are only about a handful of women that have made the breakthrough and established successful ventures within the corporate world. This underrepresentation of women within the corporate world is the result of all the sexist bias working against female entrepreneurs.
Women entrepreneurs face more obstacles in their path towards establishing and running a successful venture compared to their male counterparts. However, if female entrepreneurs were to work in synergy; create strong networks, offer mentorship opportunities, share experiences, exposure, and act as a support group to one another, they would neutralize all the challenges that are unique to the female entrepreneurs.
Today, Innov8tiv presents to you one female entrepreneur who has come up with such a platform that brings women entrepreneurs together. Born out of the challenges she faced, Whitney Barkley shares her story below:
Tell us about yourself
My name is Whitney Barkley and I am the founder of Barter Babes, LLC; an online platform that helps female entrepreneurs remove business barriers through the exchange of services with other like-minded girl bosses. My background is in Marketing and Communications and I am based in Cincinnati, OH.
I am also a Career & Entrepreneurship Blogger at thewritegirlblog.com and the Creator of The Skinny Black Girl’s Code, an online platform to help skinny African-American girls and women live life with self-esteem and confidence.
In late 2016 I plan to launch a guide called “The Skinny Girl’s Guide to Self-Esteem” after interviewing 100 women who identify as skinny or petite and learning translating their themes into advice.
What is the background behind www.barterbabes.co
Barter Babes started off as a lightbulb that went off at a women’s conference in Cincinnati during August of 2015. I met a ton of amazing women who had products and services but lacked the funding, skills, or knowledge in certain areas to take their business to the next level. It was interesting because after each woman told me her pain point, I could immediately identify someone else within the same conference who she could exchange services with to make it a win-win for both entrepreneurs.
I decided to pursue Barter Babes full-time at the end of September. I was confident that risking job stability, benefits, and a marketing director title at the age of 24 was worth the advancement of entrepreneurial women, who, represent 36 percent of businesses in the United States but only receive 4% of business loans or 3% of venture capital funds to accelerate their business.
Recently, I conducted a survey entitled, “2015 Bartering Among Female Entrepreneurs Survey” with 107 women across the United States. I found that money, fear, time, and marketing were the biggest pain points of a female entrepreneur. Most had never bartered through the traditional bartering websites available online (95 percent) and more than 50 percent would engage in bartering if there was a platform to help female entrepreneurs. (See attached infographic of results)
What is Barter Babes?
Barter Babes stands for “Bold, Ambitious Bosses Exchanging Services.” It is a membership-based website targeting aspiring female entrepreneurs or female entrepreneurs who have been in business for five years or less. Members pay a fee (see deck attached) and have access to other women who can help them with short-term business needs, including but not limited to graphic design, legal consulting, financial consulting, copywriting, sales, human resources, photography, etc.
Additionally, members will have access to business resources such as e-books, templates, and online courses. The items will also be sold ala carte to those who are not members of the website. The site will include a member directory, a review function for those who barter, and online forum discussions. In the future, I hope to make add a brick-and-mortar component to Barter Babes by adding co-working spaces specifically for women in major cities to help female entrepreneurs build relationships and use the space to host meetings and events.
What’s Coming Up
I am currently working with a designer to create Barter Babes BETA, which is projected to launch by the end of February. Based on feedback from Barter Babes BETA, I will tweak the site accordingly and open it for public access by the end of March 2015.
I am also using social media as a medium to promote the financial disparities among female entrepreneurs and show how bartering can help women mitigate costs until they can afford to hire employees or contractors.
Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
My biggest accomplishment was becoming the first Associate Director of Marketing at a start-up enterprise nonprofit by the age of 24 within the first six months of working at the company. I headed a marketing department, managed several interns and worked closely with a contractor. This was a big accomplishment for me, because I always used to second-guess or undervalue my abilities.
I had graduated two years prior and was able to be in a position that takes several years for people to acquire at most companies. Being in that position has propelled me to think with an entrepreneurial mindset and definitely has helped me gain the confidence to take a leap and launch Barter Babes full-time.
What was the most difficult period in your Career life, and how did you deal with it?
Throughout my career, I’ve always known that I wanted more but never imagined entrepreneurship would be “it.” I think the hardest period of my career was graduating from college and entering media field.
All my life I had dreamed of becoming a journalist, reporting stories that “mattered” and living life on the field by whatever means necessary. During my first job in the newsroom as a Digital Content Producer, I learned that everything I thought it was, was a fantasy in comparison to the reality I faced.
The deadlines were scary, criticism did not come with pink wrapping paper and a bowtie, and the hours were long and hard. There were no friends in the business – everyone looked out for themselves. I remember crying in the bathroom one day because the atmosphere was so intense. You have to have a thick skin to survive in the newsroom and at the time I frankly, was not made for it.
Fortunately for me, I took the skills that I learned in digital content producing and allowed myself to become immersed in the web and social media. When I eventually decided to leave for a (lesser paying) job at a nonprofit, those skills that I learned came in handy and led to many opportunities.
I ultimately learned, that there will be moments in your career where you will have to endure things that may feel unbearable. Although I felt out-of-place in my environment, I soaked up everything that I could in my job to make me more knowledgeable and marketable when the time came to move on.
In your experience, what do you think is severely lacking within the Tech Communities?
I think the tech community is experiencing rapid growth. More women and minorities are choosing to enter this space, despite the obvious disparities that exist. I think the tech community should do more to attract unrepresented groups. I believe more people would enter the tech field if they knew more about the possibilities that can be created using technology and the resources that are currently available. Most people are taught to be consumers and not producers. The tech community should provide more opportunities for persons of all ages and backgrounds to learn more about tech as well as ways to transition into the field.
What are the most important things you have learnt from your work experience?
Don’t be afraid to change your mind. You are not married to a career and your happiness and professional growth are essential to matriculating through life.
Always be polite. You will encounter those who are less-than-pleasant but always keep a positive demeanor. You never know who is watching and will endorse you on your attitude.
Money isn’t everything. When you graduate from college the emphasis is to find a good job, but not a good environment. Work in places where you feel comfortable, excited, and able to grow. If you can’t find that place, create a life outside of your job that makes you feel excited, empowered, and passionate.
Never take things personally. Ever. It’s just business.
What is your career advice to college students studying technology?
Fail fast. If you have an idea, don’t wait until college to begin to test it out on a potential consumer. Continue to look at the trends in tech and understand how the industry will develop in the coming years. As someone who is new to the tech space, it can be challenging to “catch-up” later.
Soak up the resources around you, attend start-up events, learn the language of investors, and couple your tech studies with business to become savvy if entrepreneurship is your end goal. If you desire to have a career in the tech field, be prepared to show up and stand out because this industry will experience more competition and player as it continues to grow.
To view an inforgraphic by Barter Babes on women entrepreneurship in the United States and how to leverage on Barter Babes services to make a breakthrough in your business. Click here to download the Innov8v Deck 2016, courtesy of Barter Babes [1MB PDF file]