It's a typical fall afternoon in Los Angeles as women entrepreneurs embark on Pali House for an afternoon of "co-working," a trend that brings founders, freelancers and other workers in a group setting - like a virtual office. One by one, women entrepreneurs take over the back corner of the room and get settled in. Apples illuminate the landscape as each opens their laptop and begins tackling the afternoon's work. An array of fashionable shoes and handbags peek out from around the center table - Chanel, Chloe, Louis Vuitton, Gap, Heather Hawkins. Blackberry and iPhone litter the table along with car keys and pens. As Mika Takeuchi, founder of the hotly popular blog FoodFashionista.com, pulls out her Toshiba laptop, the conversation quickly moves to spending and return on investments.
"I hated my Macbook for the first month. None of my clients could open their invoices and everybody paid late," I admit at I multi-task on a client's business plan in Paige Jeans and a striped sweater. "It's better now," I add.
The group chimes in on favorite purchases, items they've bought and loved (or hated) and their best business investments. An opposite to the bling culture many women today have grown up and still reside in, today's female founders might take a meeting in Jimmy Choo heels and lunch at Cecconi's but are hardly frivolous. In fact, the women entrepreneurs I've met and know are among the wisest spenders I've met.
It sparked the conversation about best (and worst) business investments among our email subscriber list this past week. Dozens of female founders responded, ranging from simple things like technologies that made work easier to major investments like offices and other resources.
"The best money I've spent was on my Blackberry Curve," said Kathryn Finney via email, founder of Simply Good Media and the number one fashion blog online, Thebudgetfashionista.com. "It has saved me time and money."
"Investing in designing and developing a strong product, SavvyAuntie.com, was integral to attracting visitors, the media and sponsors from the day I launched," shared Savvyauntie.com founder Melanie Notkin.
The most common answer received was hiring good talent. It wasn't just a sentiment echoed from the women above but also the top response among some of the most successful women in business, including power houses Paige Adams Geller of Paige Premium Denim, and Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder and COO of Blogher. Both companies are leaders in their category (and are on our NPG 20 list).
"In many ways, we still spend like the 'three chicks with credit cards' that we were when we were bootstrapping BlogHer," said Camahort Page, referencing her $79 Ikea desk. "But we have always believed in meeting the market when it comes to compensation for the people who are going to take us where our vision is leading us."
When Power Girls spend, they spend like businesswomen -- driven by value and ultimately, return on investment.
What have been our best business investments? Check out what Meghan and I have to share here