Where are all the women in business?

This article from the Silicon Valley Business Journal,Here’s a sign that the shortage of women in tech startups is getting worse” shows that women are no longer visible as directors in the Silicon Valley tech world.

Santa Clara-based Silicon Valley Bank conducted a survey on female directors in local startups, and reports that the percentage of startups with no female directors increased from 66 percent in 2016, to 70 percent in 2017.

Why is this? 

Many women are succeeding in business and doing it on their own.

After digging deeper, we found that many women are starting their own businesses and escaping the traditional standards of the workforce. We had the opportunity to speak with Michelle Roberts, Branding Strategy Consultant, about this trend. She shared her own story, and revealed a common thread in the business world today.

Michelle Roberts – Novus – Be Known and Messenger Birds

Michelle Roberts is a Brand Strategy Consultant, and lives in Rochester, New York. She stepped away from her day jobs with other well-known Design & Marketing firms to create her own successful branding and design business. Today, Michelle works with 45 clients across a number of industries, and has experienced four plus years of consistent growth.

She understands the challenges in the workforce after nine years of daily judgment and harassment from colleagues and management, and being treated poorly as a woman worker. She even experienced backlash for being a woman without children.

Michelle embraces her work now, and educates small business owners on the difference between branding, or telling a story, and marketing. There is more involved in the process than simply buying a logo — Michelle crafts meaningful, strategic brand design and marketing initiatives for entrepreneurs and large privately-owned companies.

She brings a personal connection to the business solution, and says, “Realizing someone’s full potential is the first step in achieving your dream.”

Proof — let’s look at Michelle’s real-time case study: her hand-crafted creations.

Idea Stage

Inspired by her grandmother, who worked for Hallmark Cards, Michelle has achieved her dream. She created a simple hand-crafted product idea and brought it to fruition.

The products began on her kitchen table because she loved using her hands to play with a ball of clay.  She experimented making different shapes until she created one she liked. Looking at the clay in the palm of her hand, she wondered how she could make her creation into a purposeful tool. After careful consideration, she added a hole to the center of the clay, where people could place handwritten notes like a carrier pigeon might transport. This marked the birth of these one-of-a-kind Messenger Birds.

Test the Market                                            

Next came the market test to see who would buy these ceramic birds and send small notes to other people. Michelle created the simple Messenger Bird branding website, and started selling her product directly to friends and family. Patience, foresight, and the power of connections paid off. Through her own community, she caught Hallmark Cards’ attention this year, and sold her first large order at select stores.

Prepare the Next Steps

Know your numbers to produce a larger quantity of products, and write down the necessary information to understand your production costs — raw materials, time, sample molds, creative packaging, and shipping are all components that determine wholesale and retail prices. Create your plan, and decide how to best expand. Use partners wisely to move forward.

Lessons to Learn

Michelle’s story is still unraveling as she stays true to herself with her clients. It is her personal connection that has taken her this far, and her knowledge of her clients’ needs and stories.

In small businesses, the key is to stay true to yourself, and consider the bigger story as you develop your brand. Proper branding will add focus to your product, allowing you to not only save money, but enjoy greater freedom and flexibility. Many American cities like Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Seattle are establishing measures to bring this back for our small businesses.

Yes, women are disappearing from the traditional workforce and finding success doing what they love. Congratulations to Michelle Roberts!

Michelle Roberts, Brand Strategy Consultant + Speaker + Elevate Your Brand Awareness to Drive Business Growth, Novus – Be Known, and Messenger Birds

Disclosure: I purchased a Messenger Bird with my own money after my conversation with Michelle.

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Editor’s Note:  Thank you to the following online articles and pictures are used with permission from Michelle Roberts. Please contact for permission to use.

Here’s a Sign That The Shortage of Women in Tech Startups is Getting Worse, Feb 15, 2017 By Cromwell Schubarth

As Small Business Struggle, these U.S. cities are Helping Entrepreneurs Thrive, Feb 7, 2017, By Patrick Sisson