You may know The Wolf of Wall Street by the risqué stories from the book or because of the leading man, Leonardo DiCaprio, in the movie, but have you given much consideration to the real business lessons found by paying attention to the main character, Jordan Belfort? When you examine with a more critical eye, there are numerous tactics, strategies, and methods of doing business – and doing business well – to be learned from The Wolf of Wall Street.

  1. Simplify your style. Jordan Belfort was able to develop a successful team from largely uneducated and inexperienced individuals because he used a simplified style. His directions were clear and direct.
  2. Know your audience. Belfort understood his investors, and knew which kinds of stocks would attract their attention. When you develop a clear understanding of who your audience is and what their needs are, you can develop a clear strategy for meeting their needs.
  3. Set clear goals for yourself. Just like Belfort knew he wanted to get rich, you need to know what you want from your business. The more specific you can be, the greater the likelihood that you will reach your goals. Separate your goals by both size and timelines (i.e. own 3 chain stores in 10 years). Outline the steps you believe you will need to make these goals into realities.
  4. Be your own best salesman. It is true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Consider how your customers and clients perceive you – from what you wear to how you style (or don’t style) your hair, to how you shake hands and maintain eye contact during conversations. When you present yourself with confidence, even if a certain measure of it is falsely contrived at first, others will see you as capable.
  5. Provide amazing training to your employees. Belfort was adept at training staff to sound as intelligent and capable as possible – even if their backgrounds were as plain as could be. Take the time to develop and implement a simple, logical, and succinct training program for your employees or contractors. This investment in your time and perhaps resources will come back to you multiple times in both saved money and time.
  6. Gather a loyal team. To run a successful business, develop a group of loyal team members who have the common goal of helping you achieve your business goals. This is done in part by the amazing training, but also by treating your employees like they are irreplaceable.
  7. Keep trying. Jordan Belfort is a perfect example of imperfection. His small business went bankrupt – but that didn’t deter him. It just gave him the resolve to succeed on Wall Street.
  8. Don’t accept NO for an answer.Getting a “No” for an answer should not stop you, it should just tell you to find another way. So whether this is for gaining additional financing or signing contracts with suppliers, take a simple “No” and think of it as “No, not this way or time.” Then find the way, the time, and the source.
  9. Be real. So while Belfort didn’t exemplify this, he did demonstrate why you need to be authentic and remain on the “right side” of the line. Being real includes following laws and representing yourself and your business with integrity.
  10. Dream big – and look through a realistic lens. Perhaps the biggest lesson an entrepreneur can learn from The Wolf of Wall Street is that dreams are the sparks for business. And when you start looking for ways to make your dreams come true, use sound, honest, and responsible ways to make that happen.

The popular tale told in The Wolf of Wall Street is filled with business lessons for entrepreneurs. Some of the tactics that Belfort used are lessons for what to avoid, but the passion with which he chased his goals is something to embrace

Angel investors provide capital to entrepreneurs – often because they believe in the project and the person(s) behind it. When it comes to women in the workforce, growing numbers of them are both becoming angel investors and reaping the rewards of an “angel” investing in their ideas and passion.

What is the difference between an angel investor and a venture capitalist?

Venture capitalists inherently look for projects that will quickly give them sometimes extremely large returns on their investments. They provide financing to startups or smaller companies that are looking to expand. These companies in need of financing typically need to prove a large market exists for the product or service, and that the particular company holds an advantage at delivering.

Compared to angel investors, venture capitalists often operate on a much larger scale, pooling large sums of cash from multiple resources. They can also afford greater risks because that pool of funding is often quite deep. In return for providing capital, venture capitalists often look for ways they might be able to exchange their investments for some influence in the business.

Angel investors, on the other hand, are usually individuals who invest their own money, and usually look for startups that somehow align with their personal interests. They are interested in helping a new generation of entrepreneurs find success in the business world, and they invest in exchange for equity in the company. Angel investors are also often willing to work as mentors to the small business owners at the helms, helping to steer their ships to success.

What roles do women have as angel investors?

The once small company Little Passports, operated by Amy Norman and Stella Ma, searched for investors to move the business in a positive direction. Venture capitalists, who are predominately male, turned their noses at the idea of this company run by two women. These men did not think that the company would be able to boast the kind of revenue venture capitalists seek. In a day and age where sexism in the workplace is supposed to be prohibited, it can’t be denied that investors still take a critical eye to entrepreneurs’ genders. They somehow equate success with male entrepreneurs and risk with female entrepreneurs.

Fortunately, the tides are turning and more female entrepreneurs are getting a boost from none other than female angel investors. That same company, Little Passports, grew to report revenues of $5 million just five years after Norman and Ma sought funding. This success is attributed in a large part to a group of female angel investors who saw the potential in both the business plan, and the people operating the business, and supplied almost $2 million in investments.

In the United States the number of female angel investors is growing, up from 20,000 in 2005 to almost 60,000 in 2014. In correlation, the number of female entrepreneurs is also on the rise, from 9% in 2005 to 23% in 2014. In an ironic and perhaps connected turn of events, the number of females working in venture funds is slowly decreasing, from an already low 10% to just above 5%.

In reality, effective business investing should include women at both the venture fund table and the angel investor side of the room. Females make up roughly half of the consumers in the country, heavily influencing purchase decisions related to the home and children especially. Representation of these consumers is important when it comes to investment decisions. New organizations, such as Women In Venture, hope to change the dynamics and increase equitable distribution of investment decisions and opportunities among genders. Entrepreneurs also play an important role in these changes as they seek out female angel investors and look internally at their own companies for ways to practice gender equality across all fronts of the business.



Banks continue to provide most of the credit assets for small businesses, but new funders are on the rise. In addition to Community Development Financial Institutions and credit unions, which have been around for years, small businesses can now turn to emerging online funders. These funders offer small businesses new opportunities for accessing capital. They also provide a superior customer experience, more transparency and,with BizFund, speedy funds delivery.


The Growth of Online Funders

Online funders enjoy an outstanding portfolio that has been growing at approximately 175% a year. Altogether, they provide small businesses with a funding capital of around $10 billion. By contrast, banks are facing a 3% decline in their outstanding portfolio, even though they provide $700 billion in loan capital.

Online funders have experienced a rapid rise in popularity among small businesses during the recession. This was even more pronounced during the economic recovery that followed. They have been around for more than 10 years but have gained momentum in the last few years.


Why Online Funders

Small but innovative, online funders seem to be changing the face of the financial sector. A key factor responsible for their growth are high rates of return, which can reach 30-120%. These have attracted both equity and institutional debt investors.

Another factor is the simpler application process that alternative funders are providing. Instead of spending hours completingpaperwork for a traditional bank loan, small businesses can now use online applications, which can take less than half an hour to complete. Available on both desktop and mobile, they can make approval a question of hours.

Once its online application is accepted, a small business doesn’t have to wait weeks for financing. Nor does it have to go through a specific procedure to obtain the money. It can receive funds straight into an account in a matter of days.


Types of Online Funders

Online funders differ from banks in their application reviewing process. In addition to the owner’s credit history and key business metrics, the funders use other methods and data sources. These may include data aggregation, electronic payment technology, and predictive modeling. All of theseassist in assessing the business performance of applicants.

Online funders also use cash flow and business performance metrics to determine risks. Often, these are derived from nontraditional data sources. The new technology that online funders use is representative of their way of doing businesses.


Balance Sheet Funders

Online balance sheet funders like Kabbage and OnDeck Capital provide short-term loans for inventory and working capital. Similar to a merchant cash advance, they deduct a fixed sum from the borrower every day. At OnDeck the average loans are $40,000. These loans come with 50% rates on average, but may be as high as 120%.


Peer-to-Peer Funders

Other online funders rely on individual investors to provide a peer-to-peer credit model. Alternative funders such as Lending Club, Funding Circle, or Prosper offer amortizing loans and fixed interest rates. These range from 8-24% for three-year loans of up to $250,000. Also, these lenders use propriety credit models.


Funding Market Brokers

Yet another generation of alternative funders have created their own loan markets. Lenders like Fundera, Lendio, or Biz2Credit aggregate offers from balance sheet lenders and community banks. They can bring borrowers a diverse portfolio of choices.

At the same time, they reduce the search cost usually associated with finding a loan. They make money by charging a small fee on top of the loan.


New Funders Versus Old Funders

These new types of lenders are filling the gaps in the standard small business lending model. They are not only becoming a viable alternative to traditional lenders, but also a possible challenge. The $4 billion IPO valuation of Lending Club, and an anticipated valuation of $1.5 billion for OnDeck cannot leave big lenders indifferent.

For small businesses, online lenders balance higher interest rates with faster applications and lower search costs. They also promise better customer support and pricing transparency.

However, credit card companies and established banks could themselves adopt the technologies new lenders have introduced. In addition to a wealth of borrower data and long lists of small businesses seeking loans, banks also have solid balance sheets. They could use these to challenge online lenders in the new marketplaces they have created.


Reasons for Optimism

In a world where small business funding has yet to return to the levels before the economic crisis, new funders can change the game. They bring new opportunities to small businesses, which can secure fundsmore quickly. At the same time, however, the policy and economic challenges they create cannot be easily ignored. Not in the light of the past financial crisis.

During this time of transition, the alternatives that online funders offer can be appealing to many small businesses. Driven by technology and innovation, small business funding could be undergoing a positive change. There’s no denying that many small businesses have embraced online funders.

Online funders can offer small businesses fresh reasons to be optimistic. They could help provide them with the capital they need to grow, and then sustain their development. By doing so, they may even drive the growth of the country’s economy.


Resources: Files/15-004_09b1bf8b-eb2a-4e63-9c4e-0374f770856f.pdf