Small Business Ahead
Small Biz Ahead

You bring the passion

Helping women build self-worth and net worth

By Diane Mastrull | The Philadelphia Inquirer

Amanda Steinberg was 2 years old when her parents divorced. She grew up driven by something her mother stressed: Never be financially dependent on anyone.

Now 35 and a Mount Airy mother of two going through her own divorce, Steinberg became "a maniacal entrepreneur," she says. She had 15 people working for her by the time she was 23 and had formed six companies in 10 years specializing in website development, app creation, and consulting.

She's not too proud to admit that "most of them failed." But rather than failure, she says, she sees "a stepping-stone."

These days, the only stones in her path are the ones embedded in historic Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill. Just off that cobbled artery, Steinberg opened a local office March 1 for her red-hot, New York-based business DailyWorth. The e-mail service and website (www.dailyworth.com), dedicated to enlightening women financially, is on a rip-roaring growth path supported by a steadily expanding corps of investors, subscribers, and advertisers.

She summed up DailyWorth's mission: "Bridging the world of women and money."

"I want to live in a world where women feel empowered around money," said Steinberg, who as CEO leads a staff of 14, including a recent addition, licensed financial adviser Jocelyn Black Hodes.

"If I can help women build self-worth," she said, "I can also help women build net worth."

The serial entrepreneur, who has been perpetually heeding the start-up itch that drives her breed of businessperson, also finds she is scratching no more.

"This is it; I have no itch," Steinberg declared in a recent interview from her cubicle in DailyWorth's shared office space on West Evergreen Avenue, a box of Tastykake Krimpets on her desk. She is blessed with a cooperating metabolism -- and a seeming inability to be idle.

Lately, her perpetual motion has been all about extending DailyWorth's reach to a million subscribers by year's end, up from the current 400,000.

The media venture, launched in 2009, has garnered Steinberg, a Society Hill native and alum of the Baldwin School and Columbia University, national television exposure and even an appearance (in the nude) in a Cosmopolitan photo spread that was part of an Estee Lauder breast cancer awareness campaign in 2010.

But what matters most, Steinberg said, is finally coming up with a successful formula for satisfying a long-held goal of effecting social change through business.

DailyWorth's mounting subscriptions are just some of the numbers suggesting that she has identified a gap in need of bridging. Among others:

The company broke even with more than $1 million in sales last year and says it expects 2013 revenue to triple.

A financing round that closed earlier this month raised $1 million, pushing the total raised since 2009 to $4.1 million.

"It's really hard to raise money in this climate," said Pamela Zimlin Baker, a corporate transactional lawyer at Royer Cooper Cohen Braunfeld L.L.C. in Conshohocken and DailyWorth's counsel. "I think it's unbelievable."

That she has done it speaks to what those in the field say is high financial illiteracy among even the most educated and accomplished women.

"Unfortunately, it's too consistent with what I'm aware of," said Michael Gombola, a finance professor at Drexel University's LeBow College of Business. "The need for literacy among women is just tremendous."

He was quick to add: "Financial illiteracy is certainly not anything that women have a monopoly on."

Newly made aware of DailyWorth's website, Gombola said its content is not as deep as what is routinely offered by CNN Money, Yahoo Finance, or TV personality Suze Orman. But it does "combine information with commercials rather uniquely" and offers "basic things that people should know," he said. Commercials include informational articles and videos by advertisers.

Sponsoring the website's financial-planning section is NestWise, a seven-month-old financial-services company in San Francisco offering advice to the middle class.

Last week, Beth Stelluto, NestWise's chief marketing officer, cited a quote on DailyWorth's site: "Money has meaning when it gives you the freedom to live an inspired life."

That, she said, "just so resonates with what we believe."

DailyWorth recently added an e-course, Money Clarity, surprising Steinberg with the emotional testimonials it has spawned. A 52-year-old woman wrote: "I am being brought out of my money coma and into life."

In 2010, Niki Brennan, who had been doing makeup for people as a hobby, made the nerve-rattling leap to entrepreneurship, opening B3: Beauty by Brennan.

About the same time, the now-32-year-old Willow Grove resident and new mother subscribed to DailyWorth, "loving how simple/easy it was and also how much it made sense."

Brennan credits her steadily increasing sales to two particular pieces of guidance from DailyWorth: Really know your net worth. Exhibit no wavering when discussing fees with clients.

"My business has grown from standing behind my worth," Brennan said.

She has even gained Steinberg as a client.

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Contact Diane Mastrull

at 215-854-2466, dmastrull@phillynews.com, or @mastrud on Twitter. ___