A Season of “Thanks”

December 7, 2014 at 6:41 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

nawbo_holidaysThe holiday season is always such a fabulous time of year. In addition to all the spirited fun we have with our families, friends, colleagues and employees, it’s the perfect time to take stock of the past year: what challenges we have overcome, what we have accomplished, how we have grown, what we are most proud of and more.

As I look back at this past year with NAWBO National, there’s so much to be thankful for:

  • To our talented and passionate NAWBO National staff and board members: Thank you for living and breathing NAWBO every day to make a difference for our chapters, members, partners and the women and small business owner communities at large.
  • To our dedicated and amazing chapter leaders and members: Thank you for your excellence and ongoing commitment to NAWBO and to one another. You elevate our organization and women and small business owners everywhere.
  • To our Indianapolis and San Antonio chapters: Thank you to Indianapolis for helping to make the 2014 National Women’s Business Conference one of our very best events to date, and to San Antonio for your enthusiasm and hard work in bringing the 2015 National Women’s Business Conference to your great state and community this coming September.
  • To our generous partners: Thank you for seeing the incredible value of women business owners in driving the nation’s economy forward and for supporting us every step of the way with knowledge and resources as we strengthen and grow our organizations.
  • To our allies in our nation’s capitol and state capitals: Thank you for listening with open ears to the voices of women business owners as we have advocated for the issues that are most important to us because they are pertinent to our success.

In just a few short weeks, we will be welcoming a new year together. I am so excited for all the new programs and initiatives NAWBO National has in the works that will add value and breadth to this already great organization. These programs and initiatives will provide mentoring, education, inspiration, motivation, connections, support and growth for our chapters, members and more. I hope you will take full advantage of every opportunity NAWBO offers you and let us know if there are ways that we can even better serve you.

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season and much personal and business success in the New Year!

—Darla Beggs, 2014-2015 National Chair

Balance: Is There Such a Thing?

November 9, 2014 at 10:48 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

balance1We all know her: A fellow woman entrepreneur who appears to have it all—and juggle it so effortlessly. She runs a growing, successful business and still manages to cook, play, date, work out, vacation, volunteer and more! It looks like she’s really got this work-life balance thing down. But does she?

On a recent call with some of our NAWBO leaders and partners, someone asked what I thought about the whole idea of work-life balance, and I had to be honest: While it looks different for every woman, for me, and for a lot of women entrepreneurs, it doesn’t exist. I run a successful small business, and some days I go to bed at night feeling like I’ve done really great on the business end, and other days, I feel like I’ve done really great in my personal life. It’s a day-to-day, constant struggle that frankly, I’ve had to learn to embrace.

It’s like Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, mother of two and outspoken advocate for women leaders famously said when she launched her Lean In movement: “So there’s no such thing as work-life balance. There’s work, and there’s life, and there’s no balance.”

I think one of the greatest contributors to this struggle for balance is how we, as women, approach our priorities. A woman with children might wake up in the morning and get her kids up, fed, dressed and out the door without stopping for even 5 minutes to have a cup of coffee. A man, on the other hand, might wake up, have coffee, read the paper and even work out before seeing what needs to happen to get the kids to school. Women feel a real need to take care of others first.

It’s the same thing in the workplace. As women, we tend to go and go without ever pausing to refresh. We’ll make time for extra projects, client lunches, calls or employees, but never for ourselves. And yet, we’d be better for it. During this time of year, many men gather together in break rooms to talk about their Fantasy Football picks. In this same spirit, we need to find ways to take short “mental pauses,” whether we just close our eyes and breathe, read an article, call a friend, stretch, etc.

We’re already in the month of November speeding toward the end of 2014. During this busiest time of the year, if you’re like me, any resemblance of work-life balance is out the window. So here’s my challenge to you (and to myself, too): Slow down whenever and wherever you can. Put yourself first sometimes. Ask for help from your partner and children or employees when you need it. Accept that work-life balance looks different for every woman entrepreneur, and for some of us, it will always be a struggle. Just do the best you can every day.

—Darla Beggs, 2014-2015 NAWBO National Chair



Want to get more perspective on work-life balance? Here are several links to good reads:

4 Work-Life Balance Stories Every Woman Should Read

5 Women, 5 Work-Life Balance Tales

Gentlemen, Welcome to the Work-Life Balance Convo

The Greatest Memo About Work-Life Balance Ever?

The Voice of Women Business Owners Starts Here

October 14, 2014 at 9:17 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

capitolblgdAs the largest organization of its kind representing America’s more than 9.1 million firms owned by women that employ nearly 7.9 million people and generate $1.4 trillion in sales, we have a great responsibility and ability to speak out as the voice of our community. By advocating for women business owners at the national level and supporting our chapters as they speak out and build relationships in their own communities, we are making a positive, lasting impact for ourselves and our businesses.

As many of you already know, this fall, NAWBO launched an endorsement campaign where we are supporting select candidates for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. Our goal is to advocate for women business owners, shape decision-making in Washington, D.C., and build important relationships.

In selecting whom to endorse, we look at each candidate’s history of entrepreneurism and/or public record of support for small business owners. Selected candidates are from both major political parties and are men and women running for office across the country. What they have in common is their commitment to small business owners.

In total, 17 federal candidates have been selected to receive NAWBO’s endorsement.

Below are links to the full media releases on the endorsements we have announced to date:

Endorsement of Marsha Blackburn

Endorsement of Barbara Comstock 

Endorsement of Renee Ellmers

Endorsement of Lois Frankel

Endorsement of Gwen Graham

Endorsement of Mary Landrieu

Endorsement of Mia Love

Endorsement of Carolyn Maloney

Endorsement of Shelley Moore Capito 

Endorsement of Jeanne Shaheen

Endorsement of Elise Stefanik

NAWBO has a long history of advocating on behalf of women entrepreneurs. It is exciting to be able to lend our endorsement to these candidates who understand the important role entrepreneurs play in our economy, know what it is like to be a small business owner or have demonstrated a sincere commitment to small businesses through their words and actions.

Additionally, many of our chapter leaders have been contacted by Joy Lutes, our Director of Public Policy, about endorsements happening in their areas, so that our chapters know about these endorsements before they are made public, can ask questions and decide how involved they would like to be in the endorsement announcement. This is a tremendous opportunity to increase the visibility of our chapters in their communities and reinforce NAWBO’s position in the public policy community at large.

As we move forward with this campaign in the weeks ahead, we will continue to update you on new candidate endorsements. In the meantime, updates and details about the program can be found here. I hope you’ll join us in sharing news of NAWBO’s efforts within your NAWBO chapter and with your business network, and also look for ways to speak out on behalf of yourself and your fellow NAWBO sisters in your own city or state. The voice of women business owners starts here, with each of us!

Darla Beggs, 2014-2015 NAWBO National Chair

Get On Board

July 15, 2014 at 1:07 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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NAWBOplaneAs a woman business owner, you can make some tremendous business and personal gains by serving on the board of an outside organization, even if you have an advisory board or board of directors you regularly interact with in your own business.

It can be a valuable leadership development tool that benefits you and your business. It can also greatly impact the organization, especially a non-profit, as it works to overcome a plateau or reach a new level of growth.

As NAWBO National installed our 2014-2015 Board of Directors last week (read about our new Board in this issue of NAWBO ONE), I’d like to encourage you to explore how board leadership like this can make a difference in your business and in a non-profit cause you’re passionate about.

At NAWBO, the passion, talent and expertise of the women business owners who comprise our National Board of Directors is critical to our organization’s success. We look to them to help further NAWBO’s mission, vision and strategy; to assess our organizational structure, policies and procedures; to review and approve budgets; to make recommendations on any major capital expenditures; to bring in new corporate partners and new members; to monitor performance; and to lend credibility to our organization as a result of their reputation in the business community.

On our board members’ part, they have the opportunity to meet other women business owners from across the U.S. with some incredible success stories and valuable ideas and insights. They get to see first-hand how a non-profit board works from a board member’s perspective, including politics, influence, consensus-building and, of course, decision-making. They also quickly understand that serving as a board member is about more than showing up at meetings. They are handpicked because of the unique talent and expertise they bring to the table, and we definitely capitalize on this during the time they serve.

As our new 2014-2015 Board sets out this next year to achieve great things, from rolling out a brand-new online mentoring program to our members, to growing our membership and member benefits to even greater levels, I hope you’ll consider how you might contribute to a cause you’re passionate about, whether that’s women business owners, education, breast cancer research, etc. Non-profits like NAWBO welcome your time, energy and intellect at the local and national level. Just ask your NAWBO chapter how you might help with an upcoming project or on a committee. I think you’ll be surprised by how much you get back when you give a little of yourself.

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll join me in extending congratulations and thanks to our new 2014-2015 Board Chair Darla Beggs and to our entire new Board of Directors!


—Billie Dragoo, NAWBO Past Chair and Interim CEO



June 21, 2014 at 11:27 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Let a Mentor or Portfolio of Mentors Propel You

497358697_nawboblogAs women, we often have the “Superwoman” complex where we feel like we can do everything on our own and be everything to everyone, since we do so much already. What we don’t realize is that we can be even better if we just ask for help from a trusted mentor—be it a fellow entrepreneur, a former boss or a friend at a similar company.

Studies show, however, that women have a more difficult time finding mentors than men. In fact, a LinkedIn study of more than 1,000 working women shows that 1 out of 5 have never had a mentor at work. But for women entrepreneurs—of all size companies and industries—having a mentor or even a portfolio of mentors with different areas of expertise is critical.

When choosing a mentor, you want someone you look up to, who inspires you and who can offer smart solutions and fresh perspective and hold you accountable when needed. You want someone who is experienced, maybe an expert in a particular field or on a certain business aspect. It’s also important that this person has the time to give and the interest in mentoring you to achieve your short- and long-term goals.

I know the value and rewards that come from being both a mentor and mentee, because I’ve been on both sides of this powerful relationship throughout my entrepreneurial life. That’s why the news I’m about to share is so exciting: NAWBO has partnered with MentorCloud to bring you a private online mentoring network dedicated to the growth and success of women entrepreneurs. We have already launched a test phase where a select group of NAWBO chapter leaders are helping to fine-tune the network. Later this year, NAWBO’s MentorCloud network will be rolled out to our entire membership as another exclusive benefit.

Once this happens, you will be able access the network, create a personalized profile and then connect with women entrepreneurs with similar backgrounds, areas of interest and values to have meaningful conversations and share knowledge. You may also be asked to mentor someone who can learn from your expertise. MentorCloud delivers fresh content, as well, including videos and blogs designed to inspire, educate and provoke thought.

Within your NAWBO community, there are some amazing, accomplished women business owners with knowledge and experience that can benefit you and your business. This new partnership will make connecting with these women easier. Learn more about the MentorCloud global mentoring network here. Then, look for details from NAWBO National about how you can get involved and benefit as well!

Billie Dragoo, NAWBO National Chair and Interim CEO



May 11, 2014 at 10:41 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

no_small_thingAt NAWBO, we know it’s no small thing to start, run and grow a small business, because our members are doing it every day and supporting one another every step of the way through our national network of chapters and extensive resources.

It’s why we held the “No Small Thing” video contest during the month of April asking women-run small businesses, with fewer than 500 employees, to share best practice videos, highlighting the “one thing that’s contributed most to your success as a small business.” We are proud to announce the winners of the “No Small Thing” video contest starting today, since May 12th marks the start of National Small Business Week—held every year since 1963 in recognition of the magnitude of importance that America’s entrepreneurs play in creating jobs, driving innovation and increasing global competitiveness.

While these businesses are small in size, there’s no denying that their impact is great…and still growing. Thanks to advancements in technology that make it easy to create and run a business without insurmountable operating expenses, there are more small businesses than ever before. Here’s a look at some of the latest small business statistics, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration:

• More than 50 percent of the current working population in the United States works in a small business setting, according Forbes magazine.

• These individuals work for the 28 million small businesses that are currently in operation, 22 million of which are non-employer businesses, cites the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Moreover, more than half of these businesses are operated out of people’s homes.

• Small businesses have generated more than 65 percent of the new jobs created in the U.S. since 1996, reports the SBA.

• From 2004 to 2010, U.S. micro-businesses (1 to 4 employees) created a net of 5.5 million jobs; large businesses (those with greater than 500 employees) lost 1.8 million jobs during the same period, says the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity.

• According to the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, micro-businesses generate $2.4 trillion in receipts and account for 17 percent of GDP and employ more than 31 million people. If 100,000 micro-businesses could add one job every month, the potential result would be 12 million new job opportunities in just one year.

This week, I hope you’ll join us in applauding small businesses that are the engine of economic growth and job creation. Please enjoy and share our Top 5 “No Small Thing” video contest winners with your network—their best practices are valuable to all businesses, big and small. I also hope you’ll check out the National Small Business Week website at www.sba.gov/nsbw/nsbw for events from San Francisco and Kansas City to Washington D.C. And, of course, stop by your favorite small businesses to show your support and appreciation—your neighborhood coffee shop, dry cleaner, restaurant, etc. Small businesses need our business to continue to have such a tremendous impact!

—Billie Dragoo, NAWBO National Chair and Interim CEO

We Are ONE

April 16, 2014 at 10:31 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

billie_dragooAs women business owners, change is a constant. We’ve learned to embrace it in all its uncertainty. We’ve used it to learn valuable life and business lessons and grow stronger. We’ve even become change agents in our own lives and organizations.

As a few of the world’s greatest change agents have so eloquently put it:

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” —Maya Angelou

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” —George Bernard Shaw

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” —Steve Jobs

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” —Margaret Mead

In this spirit of embracing change and strengthening and growing, NAWBO National is proud to launch an exciting change in our communications. In recent years, we have seen a shift for women in business. This is not our grandmother’s era, or even our mother’s. Today’s women entrepreneurs have real role models. We believe we can do it our own way. We have experience and confidence. We see entrepreneurism as a preferred way of life. We are trailblazing new leadership styles and workplace appearances. And we want to use our success to speak out and give back.

Being a woman business owner today is no longer just about business, but about a combination and delicate balance of:

Your Business + Your Lifestyle + Your Community = The Whole Professional You

April_14_EblastWe’ve begun to introduce this new “whole” approach in our Women’s Business Conference (September 8-9, 2014, in Indianapolis) communications. Now, you will find it in this premier issue of our new monthly e-publication: NAWBO ONE (which replaces NAWBO Focus and Happening Now for chapters and members). You will also see ONE MORE eblasts that link back to fresh content later in the month—one for everyone and one exclusively for NAWBO chapter leaders.

As part of this shift, we are inviting our community to submit timely, well-written articles, or ideas for articles, for consideration (to publications@nawbo.org). After all, we are one strong community of women entrepreneurs and our supporters, and we want your e-publication to reflect that. We are open to articles about anything of interest and value to women entrepreneurs right now. These might include, but are not limited to, access to capital, managing cash flow, tax planning, business logistics, legislation and advocacy, health care, print and digital marketing, personal branding, business health and lifestyle, strategic planning, environmental concerns/efforts, next generation entrepreneurship, managing different generations, mentoring, hiring, recruiting and more.

We hope you will spend a little extra time this month reading through this premier issue. It has something for everyone, and something of value for your business, your lifestyle and your community…the whole professional you!



—Billie Dragoo, NAWBO National Chair and Interim CEO


What Do Women Business Owners Think?

March 11, 2014 at 4:44 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their friends, and when I take a look at NAWBO and the “friends” that surround us in support of our mission and vision—corporate partners like Chase, UPS, Walmart, Sam’s Club, American Express, Wells Fargo, Southwest Airlines and many others—I believe they say a lot about NAWBO.

One of these partners is Web.com, which provides a full range of Internet services to small businesses to help them compete and succeed online. Web.com partnered with NAWBO last year to ask women business owners what they thought about their businesses, the overall economy, their main concerns (taxes, health care, etc.) and social media usage. The responses were tremendous and the results insightful.

This year, we’re proud to have Web.com back—once again asking what women business owners think about the issues of greatest importance to them. In this issue of Focus, as well as on our website, our social media pages and in a joint press release with Web.com, you can read all about the key highlights of this year’s survey results.

For example, women business owners are universally optimistic about their 2014 business outlook, and as such, they plan to invest even more in their social media and web presences. That’s great news, considering the fact that the 8.6 million women-owned businesses today are the fastest growing segment of the economy, and a successful online presence is one of the key drivers of success in today’s digital world.

There are a few other exciting things happening across NAWBO this month as well. March and April mark our Annual Membership Drive, and as every NAWBO member knows, there are tremendous benefits that come with NAWBO membership. Every woman entrepreneur, in every industry, can benefit from the inspiration, knowledge, resources and opportunities she will receive through NAWBO. I encourage you to tell your women entrepreneur friends, especially a next generation woman business owner, about how NAWBO has impacted you and your business. NAWBO already has thousands of amazing, accomplished women among our members, but there’s always room for more!

Lastly, we have some exciting changes on the horizon with NAWBO’s communications. Our approach is shifting next month to focus on powering the “whole professional you.” This will mean a brand-new e-magazine, and further down the road, a new website. Our hope is to provide you with everything you need to be your absolute best as a woman business owner.

—Billie Dragoo, NAWBO National Chair and Interim CEO


Your Voice and Resource For Fairness and Equity

February 10, 2014 at 10:16 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In a few short weeks, on March 1st, NAWBO will launch its annual spring membership drive. During this time, you’ll hear from NAWBO National, our 60-plus chapters and thousands of NAWBO sisters across the U.S. about the immense benefits of NAWBO membership; how it’s connected them to a sisterhood, to valuable resources and savings, to targeted, timely learning opportunities and more. Of all the benefits, though, perhaps the greatest remains simply being part of the 39-year-strong organization that is the voice of women entrepreneurs—the thoughtful, reputable voice that has spoken out and fought long and hard for equity and fairness in business, and continues to do so every day.

One of the areas in which NAWBO’s voice has been strongest is with both state and federal procurement opportunities. As part of NAWBO’s largest chapter in the country, NAWBO-Indianapolis, I’ve worked firsthand with my NAWBO sisters to make sure both women- and minority-owned businesses receive their fair share. The result of our collective voice and effort is that women-owned businesses have won more contracts for major projects, including the Indianapolis International Airport and the JW Marriott Indianapolis (where you’ll fly in and stay when you join us for this year’s NAWBO Women’s Business Conference on September 8-9, 2014, in Indianapolis!).

At the national level, NAWBO played a critical role in the achievement of the 5 percent federal procurement goal for women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) as well as other steps designed to assure WOSBs receive their fair share of federal contracts and contract dollars. Failure to achieve the 5 percent goal has been costing WOSBs an average of $5 billion in lost contract dollars each year. There have been great gains for WOSBs since the final rule and then implementation of the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Procurement Program in 2011. However, despite the progress, the National Women’s Business Council’s (NWBC) latest research and infographic from late 2013 show that the average award remains lower than those of other small businesses that are not women-owned. Highlights of this latest research include:

• WOSBs generally received an increasing share of contracts and awards, not only within the 83 designated industries but in other industries as well. However, although WOSBs are generally meeting the contract threshold within the 83 industries, they remain underrepresented in terms of awards share.

• Average WOSB awards remain lower than those of other small businesses. The number of industries in which the WOSB share of awards is greater than the WOSB share of contracts remains low, indicating that on average, WOSBs are earning less money per contract than non-WOSBs in the majority of industries.

• Consistent with general procurement trends for WOSBs, vendors with more longevity and stability (i.e., receiving contracts in multiple fiscal years) were able to secure a larger portion of contracts through the use of the WOSB and EDWOSB (for economically disadvantaged) set-asides. However, almost half of all WOSB vendors received contracts only in a single fiscal year, indicating a high rate of turnover.

As NAWBO continues to be a preeminent voice in the area of procurement opportunities, we are proud to bring you a new resource that we’ve developed with trusted partners to help you in achieving your “fair share.” The NAWBO Edition of Braddock’s The Winning Edge: How Government and Corporate Buyers Select a Small Business Supplier • 2014 Edition is now available! Braddock’s The Winning Edge is a practical guide, providing important insights into the decision-making process within the government and large corporations, with an emphasis on the evaluation and selection stages. This special edition, published by Braddock Communications, Inc., will be available for all NAWBO members to download exclusively on the NAWBO website thanks to the generous sponsorship of Microsoft Corporation. Click here to download.

Remember, to qualify for WOSB set-asides, a firm has to be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more female U.S. citizens, and firms have to be certified ahead of time. You can find out more about certification on the SBA’s website, here. Also, be sure to ask your NAWBO sisters whose businesses are certified about their experiences and insights—yet another important benefit of a NAWBO membership!

—Billie Dragoo, National Board Chair and Interim CEO

Why Belonging Is Important

January 10, 2014 at 11:46 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As humans, we have a natural, fundamental need to belong—to one another, to our friends and family, to our culture, to our community and to our world. That’s because belonging makes us feel like, good or bad, we’re not in this alone; we’re in it together with a powerful support system wanting to see us happy, healthy, motivated and successful.

As we begin this New Year, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for women entrepreneurs—at any stage of business growth, whether you’re a start-up working from a home office or running a multi million-dollar company—to belong to an organization like NAWBO. One of the greatest member benefits we offer is a support system of amazing, talented women with shared interests and aspirations who are experiencing similar challenges and opportunities, or have the hindsight of having faced these before. They are here for, and genuinely interested in, bringing you up, mentoring and offering sound ideas and advice.

During the first quarter of the year, NAWBO will hold its annual spring membership drive. Imagine the impact we could create, and its ripple effect, if we each gave a friend or daughter who is an entrepreneur the gift of belonging. When you consider all of the following exclusive NAWBO member benefits, it’s very powerful:

  • Belong to an organization that is completely focused on strengthening and furthering women’s entrepreneurship
  • Interact with members at the annual national conference and at a number of local events and forums throughout the year that bring together members and experts on the most current and inspiring topics
  • Access information to help you manage and build your business from a trusted source with a number of communications platforms (eblasts, e-publications, website, social media channels and more)
  • Engage in driving an agenda in Washington, D.C., and state capitals that advances opportunities for women entrepreneurs; also, be empowered to make a difference by advocating in your local community
  • Tap into an extensive network of like-minded women both in a NAWBO chapter as well as nationally and even around the globe to collaborate on challenges and opportunities, share resources and even do business together
  • Impart your knowledge to the next generation of women business owners to ensure that women-owned enterprises continue to out-pace, out-perform and fuel economic growth
  • Give back to your community of women business owners by taking advantage of the many opportunities to serve in a volunteer leadership role within NAWBO, either at the chapter or national level
  • Gain extensive and oftentimes exclusive, knowledge, tools and resources from NAWBO’s community of supporters, including corporate, affinity, affiliate and media partners

As we move full speed ahead into 2014, I hope you will do two things. First, consider your own NAWBO membership and whether you are taking advantage of all the benefits available to you. If not, resolve to get more involved this year. Secondly, tell another women entrepreneur, or two or three, why you are a NAWBO member and how they can benefit from belonging.

Lastly, you may have noticed a new logo on this month’s blog. That’s because NAWBO has been selected as a winner of Broadview Network’s 2013 Best Blogs for Entrepreneurs Award and is now featured on the site as a recommended entrepreneurial resource for readers. You can check out the complete list of Best Blogs here. It’s a great communication that I’m proud to bring to you each month—and of course, another benefit of belonging.

—Billie Dragoo, National Board Chair and Interim CEO

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