The most damaging thing women business owners can do regarding financial planning is nothing.

“It’s often the last thing that people want to talk about because they are so busy living their lives and running their businesses,” says Nancy Kunz, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, Lead Financial Planner at First Commonwealth Financial Advisors, Inc. “Then, by the time they figure it out, they are 65 and staring at retirement. A woman’s instinct often is to help everyone else first, to take care of everyone else, and that is compounded when a woman is also running a business,” says Natalia Paich, CPA, AIFA®, Wealth Relationship Manager at First Commonwealth Financial Advisors, Inc. “But sometimes she needs to put herself first and plan for the future of herself and her business.”

Smart Business spoke with Kunz and Paich about business and financial planning for women business owners.

How do women need to plan differently than men?

There is a high probability of a woman being alone late in life, as men tend to have a shorter life expectancy. It is important to take control of finances now, as doing so will lay the groundwork for making the choices for the future. While the thought of taking ownership of one’s finances may seem daunting, doing so both personally and professionally is imperative.

A common mistake made by women business owners is trying to do it all themselves. Instead, get help from the beginning and find the appropriate professional. Most people don’t truly understand their financial decisions and therefore make uninformed choices or no choices at all. When working with a trusted professional, women should ensure that they are active participants throughout the partnership, from hiring a professional to understanding the decisions and implications of those decisions.

What are some of the biggest financial mistakes female owners make with their business?

We mentioned that the biggest mistake women can make in regard to their finances is doing nothing. The same can be said for women business owners using slightly different words, ‘failure to plan.’  Very few businesses take the time to plan income, expenses, management of receivables and cash flows, money for capital expenditures, etc. Women should take the time to create a financial plan for their business. A big part of creating the financial plan is finding the right professional expertise for legal, tax, financial planning, etc. A business owner’s time should be spent doing what she does best — not on the behind-the-scenes mechanics.

Part of creating the right team of professionals includes where to look for them. Women should look for professionals who are familiar with and have experience with small businesses. Spending the money upfront to pay professionals can save a lot of headaches further down the road.

What do women business owners need to know about saving for retirement, and how can they balance that with other needs?

Women business owners have many options to save for retirement. The best option often depends on whether the business owner has employees, and if so, how many. Some retirement options include SEP IRAs, self-employed 401(k), self-employed Roth 401(k), SIMPLE IRAs and Keogh plans. Each type of plan has different contribution limits, may allow for tax-deductible contributions and withdrawal provisions, and may require taxation of monies at distribution.

It is important to consult with a financial adviser and/or accountant to determine which plan is best suited for the business and business owner. In regard to retirement savings, women business owners should avoid using their own retirement money to fund their business. The long-term effect on retirement savings can be significant. Monies designated for retirement should remain in retirement. Monies designated for business development and growth should be used for the business. A woman doesn’t want to find herself at retirement with only illiquid assets.

What should women know about financial planning when one spouse takes times off from work?

Keep retirement funding going, if possible. If one spouse takes time off to raise the family, increase savings into the spouse’s company-sponsored retirement plan and/or consider establishing a spousal IRA. This may not always be an option, so it is important to confer with a trusted adviser. Expectations for the family’s standard of living are paramount not only to planning but also to adjusting to one income, so those need to be realistic and continually reviewed.

If a woman business owner decides to leave her business, she should keep current with her profession so that when she is ready to re-enter the work force or start a new business, doing so will be easier.

When running a business, how can women incorporate their role as a primary caregiver to an elderly parent?

This can be financially and emotionally difficult, especially when paired with taking care of children and running a successful business. This is where long-term care insurance comes in, helping to ease the burden. Women should ensure their parents have long-term care insurance, even if they have to pay for it themselves. Oftentimes, care starts being required when a daughter is trying to raise her own family and her business is taking off.

When purchasing long-term care insurance, do the research to ensure a quality product. Certain companies are better with premiums and rate increases than others, and large annual rate increases can lead to unaffordable premiums. Financial stability of the insurance company is also important, as the need for the insurance may not arise for years.

The peace of mind acquired after confronting one’s own financial planning situation and working with a trusted adviser to put a sound plan in place is priceless, allowing you to focus on other things.


Nancy Kunz, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, is Lead Financial Planner with First Commonwealth Financial Advisors, Inc. Reach her at (412) 562-3232 or

Natalia Paich, CPA, AIFA®, is Wealth Relationship Manager with First Commonwealth Financial Advisors, Inc. Reach her at (412) 562-3232 or

Insights Wealth Management is brought to you by First Commonwealth Bank

Published in Pittsburgh

Women are playing an ever-increasing role in changing the economics of growth, growing businesses and jobs, and creating new opportunities for everyone. This is especially the case in economies that are slow or stagnant, where greater opportunity exists to start a business.

“Women are taking advantage of these opportunities in droves, and they’re able to grow businesses in times of slow economic changes,” says Stephanie Union, a partner and chair of Kegler, Brown, Hill & Ritter’s women-owned business area.

Many women have taken small mom-and-pop shops and grown them into successful small businesses.

“There’s a greater opportunity for women to do that today, whereas in past generations, there might not have been, and communities are benefitting from the number of jobs they create,” she says.

As women continue to progress in the professional world, mentorship programs, referrals and professional associations designed to support women business owners are increasingly important.

Smart Business spoke with Union about the unique opportunities women have today to give or receive advice that can help grow women-owned businesses.

How can women helping other women and referring business to each other be beneficial?

There’s recognition among certain successful women that you can pass on your success by referring your colleagues and friends to other female professionals. It’s amazing the number of referral groups, professional networks and organizations that provide many opportunities to get involved, a number of which encourage referrals among women. Having that camaraderie can help women succeed and gain ground in their own businesses.

There are also a number of certification programs for women-owned businesses that offer a leg up in terms of getting certain types of work from federal and state governments. For example, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council will certify women-owned businesses, as does the Small Business Administration. The certification processes are rigorous, and companies have to prove that they are a woman-run business and that the majority of the company is controlled by a woman. The documentation and effort required to get certified is stringent, but that designation can be very beneficial for companies in certain industries.

How do the needs of women business owners differ from those of their male counterparts?

A number of women find themselves in industries traditionally dominated by their male counterparts, so finding their way among the men can be a challenge. Partnering with people who have insight into the industry can help them find comfort. Many women business owners have navigated the waters themselves and can help other women get established.

The needs of women business owners can sometimes be fulfilled more fully by fellow women. Women who are professionals generally have a better sense of what other women business owners are experiencing and what they have to face on a daily basis. That empathy can direct the way women do business together and help all of those businesses succeed and prosper.

How can women benefit from working with services that cater to women business owners?

Having ties with professional women’s groups can give someone perspective on the obstacles women deal with and how to support women going through those struggles. While the services aren’t different or better, they are provided in a way that women can appreciate more and respond to better.

There is something to be said for knowing the struggles women face and have faced. Taking these into account when giving advice can help women business owners succeed.

What issues are women business owners likely to face?

There have been historic struggles for women. While there are laws that allow women to vote or prevent discrimination, women still face struggles that are different from those that men face.

Maintaining a work/life balance is an issue for both men and women, but it’s hard when you’re a mother and working full time, considering there remain different societal demands for women than men. While conditions are changing, they haven’t fully equalized between the sexes, so daily struggles still exist. The goal is to recognize those struggles and support women by helping them find balance within the working world.

What can women do to help other women be successful professionals?

There are mentoring opportunities. Who better to understand the struggles of a woman than another woman? Some organizations and associations have mentorship programs, but, in my opinion, the best mentorships happen without much formality. It is better if the relationship develops naturally.

Natural mentorships are informal. It’s not a situation where you must meet with the woman you are mentoring four times per year and accomplish certain goals. Instead, it is a relationship that develops in which you care about the way the person you are mentoring is advancing and can offer her advice.

To be prepared to be a women business owner, you also need education. When starting your own business, there are a lot of things you need to know in terms of accounting issues and legal matters, including rules surrounding employees and hiring. You need to have a good education or surround yourself with people who have experience in those areas.

A number of women-focused associations or organizations can provide the support or connections needed to get a business up and running.

Stephanie Union is a partner and chair of Kegler, Brown, Hill & Ritter’s women-owned business area. Reach her at (614) 462-5487 or

Insights Legal Affairs is brought to you by Kegler, Brown, Hill & Ritter Co., LPA

Published in Columbus

Women-owned businesses are three-and-a-half times less likely to reach $1 million in annual revenue as businesses owned by men, according to an independent impact study released by Ernst & Young LLP, a professional services company.

The reason? Most women just don’t think big enough.

Here are five key points Ernst & Young recommends for scaling small companies into large ones:

  1. Think big and be bold
  2. Build a public profile
  3. Work on the business, rather than in it
  4. Establish key advisory networks
  5. Evaluate financing for expansion

To learn more, join us for “The POWER of Perseverance,” the 10th annual Perspectives: Women Who Excel Conference, presented by Anthem and sponsored by Smart Business, Cleveland Clinic and Colortone Staging & Rentals.

The April 13 event will feature a panel discussion with a dynamic group of leading women executives who will share their insights on what it takes to redefine and reinvigorate your leadership style in order to move a business forward.

Join us to discuss methods for promoting success for women-owned businesses in our region.

Published in Akron/Canton

Ernst & Young LLP is calling for applications for its fourth annual Entrepreneurial Winning Women competition, a national leadership program designed for women entrepreneurs to accelerate the growth of their businesses and help them realize the potential they envision for their companies.

To obtain an application form, or to nominate a deserving woman entrepreneur, visit: The application deadline is June 30, 2011. Winners will be announced in October 2011.

The Entrepreneurial Winning Women program identifies and connects a select group of women entrepreneurs with the advisors, resources and insights they need to scale their businesses and become market leaders.  The program is conducted in collaboration with the Women Presidents’ Organization, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the Committee of 200, National Association of Women Business Owners and Babson College.

“Women employ 16 percent of the US workforce and climbing – starting businesses at twice the rate of men. There has never been a better time to help women scale their businesses, adding even more jobs to the economy,” noted Maria Pinelli, Americas Director, Strategic Growth Markets, Ernst & Young LLP. “Our program helps successful women entrepreneurs to propel their company’s growth, which benefits their businesses, creates jobs, and helps to boost the economy.”

Winners of the Entrepreneurial Winning Women competition will join an elite business network of the country’s best high-growth companies, including accomplished entrepreneurs recognized through the 25-year-old Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® program. Winners will also participate in a customized executive leadership program designed to:

  • Expand their knowledge with the latest information, research and executive dialogues about business strategies and practices
  • Identify potential partners, strategic alliances, customers and suppliers as well as prospective sources of private capital
  • Provide access to informal, one-to-one guidance and support
  • Strengthen their executive leadership and business skills and identify opportunities to grow through meetings with senior advisors and seasoned entrepreneurs
  • Increase national and regional visibility for themselves and their companies among corporate executives, investors and the media

“Entrepreneurial Winning Women and the Strategic Growth Forum have allowed me to take a step back, focus on my business and think bigger and differently than I did before,” said Dawn Halfaker, CEO, Halfaker and Associates, and a 2010 Entrepreneurial Winning Woman.  “The contacts I’ve made and relationships I’ve built are not just helpful now but will be in the future as I continue to grow my business. I’ve received tremendous media exposure and truly been inspired.”

Each winner will receive an all-expense paid trip to the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum 2011, which takes place November 9-13, 2011 in Palm Springs, California. The Strategic Growth Forum, dubbed by as one of the “Seven Get-Ahead Executive Retreats,” is an invitation-only gathering of high-growth, market-leading company CEOs. The Forum presents a one-of-a-kind platform for Ernst & Young Winning Women to introduce their companies and share their corporate and personal brands within a community of established entrepreneurs, top executives, prospective investors and business advisors. All 2011 Winning Women will be recognized at a special celebratory event during the Forum. For more information on the forum, including speakers from top US companies, visit:

Competition Criteria and Selection:

To apply for the program, applicants must fit the following criteria:

  • Founding woman CEO of a privately held US company
  • Company must have reported at least one full fiscal year of $1 million in sales within each of the last 2 years
  • Venture must be less than 10 years old
  • Entrepreneur must be able to attend an orientation/preparation session at Ernst & Young’s headquarters in New York City on October 4-5, 2011, and the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum, November 9-13, 2011, in Palm Springs, CA.

"Through Entrepreneurial Winning Women and the Strategic Growth Forum, my network has grown exponentially,” said Susan Rice, President, Cavanagh Services Group, Inc., and a 2010 Entrepreneurial Winning Woman.  “I have learned that even the most established entrepreneurs have similar challenges to me, which gives me the strength to know I can achieve that same level of success. I have gained more confidence to think bigger, and I have real plans for change in growing my company and exploring new market segments.”

The 2011 Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Winning Women panel of independent judges — representing successful entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders — will name 10 Entrepreneurial Winning Women in October 2011. Applicants will be expected to demonstrate qualities needed to take full advantage of the program, including successes to date that exhibit the creativity, tenacity and plan necessary to realize their companies’ full potential and the confidence and conviction to drive toward market leadership. In addition, Entrepreneurial Winning Women should have the maturity and level of business sophistication needed to interact effectively with potential investors, high-level business advisors and top executives.

About Ernst & Young’s Strategic Growth Markets Practice

Through our Strategic Growth Markets (SGM) practice, Ernst & Young guides high-growth companies to market leadership worldwide. Our multidisciplinary teams of dedicated professionals provide perspective, advice, and insights to help our clients accelerate their growth. Ernst & Young is the undisputed leader in guiding Russell 2000® companies, IPO-bound companies and Forbes’ largest private companies. We deliver assurance, advisory, tax and transaction advisory services to thousands of companies in numerous, selected industries.

About Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 141,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.

For more information, please visit

Ernst & Young refers to the global organization of member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young LLP, a client-serving member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited located in the US.

Published in National