I just returned last week from NAWBO National’s Advocacy and Public Policy Day in Washington, D.C. where a group of NAWBO leaders with a passion for making an impact for U.S. women entrepreneurs gathered on Capitol Hill to meet with policy makers and talk about issues that are challenging us the most today as we start, grow and scale our businesses.
It got me thinking about what a tremendous learning opportunity it was—for me as a woman business owner stepping outside of my day-to-day business to take part in something much bigger than myself and my own business, and for these policy makers to really learn first-hand the unique challenges we face today as women business owners that NAWBO members know so well.
Opportunities like this—to learn and grow—are hard to make time for when we are running successful businesses. However, they are really important as women entrepreneurs because they connect us with diverse new people, engage and excite us and open our minds to different ideas and perspectives that we perhaps would have never thought of on our own.
Learning comes in all forms, whether you decide to return to college to obtain a master’s degree or professional certificate; work through becoming a certified woman-owned business and then take advantage of the opportunities that exist surrounding this certification; take part in e-learning opportunities, like NAWBO’s monthly e-learning series on timely business topics; or even just make an effort to learn from those around you—from your employees in your company and from your sisters at NAWBO.
This issue of NAWBO ONE is about education and learning, which is rather appropriate considering that every issue of our e-publication is designed to help our community members to learn and grow. I hope you’ll take the time to read great articles like our Member Spotlight on Wendy Bird of Pearls with Purpose. She has an amazing organization that teaches self-sustainability and hope to women in developing countries—by simply teaching them how to make jewelry. Wendy is also our top winner of NAWBO’s 2015 No Small Thing Video Contest, so be sure to check out her winning submission!
I’d love to hear from you about how you continue to learn and grow as a woman entrepreneur. How do you find the time? What opportunities have you found most valuable? If you could learn anything new, what would it be and why?
—Darla Beggs, NAWBO National Board Chair
PS: This will be my final blog as National Board Chair. It’s been an incredible journey and privilege to serve NAWBO’s community of women entrepreneurs in this role over the past year and I look forward to continuing on as your Past Chair. Meanwhile, congratulations to my friend and colleague Crystal Arredondo, who will be installed in a few weeks as the 2015-2016 Board Chair and will take over this blog. Thanks for reading!
When you see the words “women” and “international” in the same sentence, so many things come to mind: Women business owners thinking bigger about the potential of scaling their businesses by expanding in overseas markets. Women in developing nations struggling to gain basic rights women in the U.S. have enjoyed for decades, including the right to start and run your own business and access to the education and capital that make it all possible.
At NAWBO, many of our women entrepreneurs have taken their businesses global in recent years or are now thinking about it. That’s why we have always had an international breakout session track at our Women’s Business Conference hosted by NAWBO—this year, September 28-29 in San Antonio, Texas—and we make it a priority to provide valuable resources and education to our members who are interested in international business throughout the year. Additionally, through our new MentorCloud online mentoring platform that we are preparing to roll out this year, global-minded women in business will be able to seamlessly connect for valuable support and advice.
At the same time, we remain committed to positively impacting entrepreneurial women the world over. That’s been increasingly evident through our growing number of partnerships with organizations that are focused on identifying and supporting women in developing nations. In this issue of NAWBO ONE, I hope you’ll take the time to read our Member Spotlight on longtime NAWBO member and leader Terry Neese, who, after successfully running her own staffing agency for 31 years, founded the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women whose PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® Program empowers and mentors women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda. Now in its ninth year, the program has graduated more than 500 women who have created more than 12,000 jobs for their communities and countries.
In this issue, we also feature a Q&A with a leader from Opportunity International. This new NAWBO partner is helping women entrepreneurs around the world to break the cycle of poverty and thrive. Opportunity International is accomplishing this by providing loans, savings programs, insurance, business training and other financial services to empower community entrepreneurs to launch and expand businesses that break the cycle of poverty, transform their lives and strengthen their families and communities. Be sure to read how NAWBO members can get involved to make a difference.
In the Unites States, there are currently 9.1 million women business owners, making us the fastest growing segment in today’s economy. However, in many other countries around the world, women remain an untapped economic resource. According to the International Labor Organization, there are 812 million women living in developing countries with the potential to contribute more fully to their economies.
This month, I encourage you to consider what international opportunities exist for your business as well as what you can do to help other women around the world who share your entrepreneurial passion and spirit.
—Darla Beggs, NAWBO National Chair
The availability of capital is crucial for any small business to get off the ground, weather tough times and grow to the next level. But what most women business owners today know about this key issue is very different from what our daughters or granddaughters will know when they set out to launch businesses of their own. Before H.R. 5050, the Women’s Business Ownership Act that NAWBO played a role in helping to pass more than 25 years ago, women didn’t have direct access. In fact, if they wanted to get a business loan, they needed a male co-signer—a husband, father or even son.
While discriminatory lending practices like this might be a thing of the past, access to capital consistently ranks as one of the biggest challenges for women entrepreneurs seeking to start or expand their business—one that NAWBO consistently speaks out on in the state capitals where our chapters reside as well as in our nation’s capitol where NAWBO was founded. Still, the statistics speak loud and clear: Women are starting businesses at one and a half times the national average according to the American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Business Report. Yet female founders receive just 25 percent of angel investments in the U.S., and companies with a woman CEO get just 3 percent of venture capital backing, says a Babson College study on bridging the gender gap in venture capital. Additionally, an Experian report shows that most women entrepreneurs rely on personal credit when applying for a business loan to keep their businesses strong or expand their operations.
Moreover, in July 2014, then-Senate Small Business Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) released a report entitled “21st Century Barriers to Women’s Entrepreneurship.” The report took a wide-ranging look at some of the challenges that women face in starting a business. In particular, the report found that just “$1 of every $23 in conventional small business loans goes to a woman-owned business.”
Since building financial capability and improving access to credit is not just essential to the success of our current and future NAWBO members, but to the continued growth of the U.S. economy, we decided to dedicate an entire issue of NAWBO ONE to accessing capital. In this month’s issue, you’ll hear advice from one of our past National Board Chairs, whose company provides CFO advice, support and even interim or part-time CFOs, about the must-have financial tools for women entrepreneurs to successfully run their businesses. You’ll also read spotlights on women-owned businesses who have gained access their way.
Additionally, we’re excited to share with you details of a new partnership between NAWBO and Portfolia, a network designed to bring together trending private companies with emerging yet sophisticated investors, as well as experienced angels and angel networks for women entrepreneurs. The partnership will result in NAWBO-Portfolia Investment Circles, beginning in six NAWBO chapters.
We hope you enjoy this issue of NAWBO ONE and gain some valuable insight to help you launch something new, get through a business challenge, expand your products or services or step into a new market.
—Darla Beggs, NAWBO National Board Chair
NAWBO was founded 40 years ago by a group of women business owners in Washington, D.C., who sought to advocate for the removal of obstacles and impediments to women entrepreneurs. Over the next several decades, they achieved many things, including helping eliminate state laws that required women entrepreneurs to have a male co-signatory for their business loans and rallying for the creation of the National Women’s Business Council, which still conducts research and aggregates information on the contributions women business owners make to the U.S. economy.
That spirit of advocacy lives today as NAWBO works in state capitals and in our nation’s capitol of Washington, D.C., to impact policy-making and create an environment that empowers women business owners to succeed, grow their companies and create jobs.
What we know about NAWBO members is that they are optimistic, enthusiastic multi-taskers who want to give back to this generation of entrepreneurs and the next. At NAWBO, we are able to help them do just that in part through our focus on access to the 4 Cs—capital, community, confidence and capitols.
While women are starting businesses at record rates, we find that many struggle understandably when it comes to growing and scaling their businesses. At NAWBO, our strength comes from our diversity. We have women entrepreneurs in all sectors, of all sizes and in all stages of business development. Through our networking, mentoring and educational opportunities, we are able to provide women with the tools they need to reach the next level of success. And the numbers seem to suggest it is working.
According to 2010 Census statistics, while women-owned businesses represented nearly 50 percent of privately held companies, only 1.8 percent of their businesses reported more than $1 million in revenue. The most recent data of self-reporting among NAWBO members reveals that approximately 30 percent of our members have met or exceeded that $1 million in revenue threshold.
We truly are better together. At NAWBO, our focus is on making it easier to start and grow a business for this generation of women and the next. In that way, our members are making history every day.
—Darla Beggs, Chair, NAWBO National Board
February is Black History Month, so as we planned our 2015 monthly themes for our NAWBO ONE e-publication for women business leaders, we thought it was fitting to do a diversity-themed issue this month. But what is diversity in today’s business world?
Diversity is not just a matter of race and gender anymore. It’s about all the things that make us unique as human beings—our values, education, way of thinking, lifestyle, personality, work style, learning style, communication preferences, family history, life experiences, socioeconomic status, political values, spiritual beliefs and more.
As women business owners, we know that diversity has its distinct advantages. Diverse team members bring unique strengths, experiences and perceptions to the table to brainstorm and problem-solve. Tapping into these can build our companies up internally and allow us to be more innovative and responsive to customers and changing market conditions—ultimately making an impact that is much greater than the sum of our parts.
Another advantage of diversity is the opportunity for personal growth. Being exposed to new ideas, cultures and perspectives can help us grow intellectually and gain a clearer view of the world around us. Spending time with culturally diverse team members can also break down subconscious barriers and make us all more well-rounded individuals.
Diversity also drives economic growth: Our nation’s human capital substantially grows as more women, racial and ethnic minorities, etc., enter the workforce. A McKinsey & Company study, for example, found that the increase in women’s overall share of labor in the U.S.—where women went from holding 37 percent of all jobs to 47 percent in 40 years—has accounted for about a quarter of the Gross Domestic Product.
As a woman entrepreneur, I have not only seen first hand the benefits of diversity in my own business, but as a longtime member of NAWBO and now Chair of the National Board, I’ve seen it in my chapter and with my fellow Board members. It’s been a tremendous advantage to have a network of incredibly diverse experiences, ideas and opinions to tap into as I’ve worked to grow my business and as a business leader. And I know I’m not alone. As I continue to meet and speak with other NAWBO members in our 60 chapters across the country, I am heartened to hear their stories of growing through NAWBO’s diverse network of woman entrepreneurs.
If you haven’t yet tapped into this powerful NAWBO benefit, I encourage you to look around you. How can your diversity benefit other women entrepreneurs, and how can you benefit from what others can bring to the table? The possibilities are endless.
—Darla Beggs, 2014-2015 National Board Chair
NAWBO celebrates the life and legacy of Madame Francoise Foning from Cameroon who passed away late last month. She was the Immediate Past President of Femmes Chefs d’Entreprises Mondiales (FCEM), also known as the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs. NAWBO is proud to continue its alliance with FCEM, a non-profit, non-governmental, non-political and non-sectarian organization whose activities at the national and international level are aimed at promoting women’s entrepreneurial initiatives and reinforcing national associations of women business owners.
Oprah Winfrey, who counted the late poet Maya Angelou among her mentors, once said, “I think mentors are important, and I don’t think anybody makes it in the world without some form of mentorship. Nobody makes it alone. Nobody has made it alone.”
At NAWBO, we agree: Mentors play a critical role in the success of women business owners, providing unparalleled understanding, insight and support, especially when these women have gone down the path before you or are going it alongside you. There’s really nothing quite like it.
Still, studies show that historically women have had a more difficult time finding mentors than men. A LinkedIn survey of more than 1,000 working women, for example, showed that 1 out of 5 women have never had a mentor at work. Whether that’s because women feel they lack the time or they’re just reluctant to ask for mentoring, it’s a statistic that NAWBO is hoping to change with the rollout of a new program for our members in 2015.
This past year, NAWBO has had the pleasure of working with Ravi Gundlapalli, Ph.D, CEO of the global mentoring network Mentorcloud, and his team to customize a cloud-based platform that would enable our members—thousands of women entrepreneurs from across the U.S. with businesses of all sizes and industries—to collaborate and support one another as they grow. This platform, which we’ve spent months testing and fine-tuning with NAWBO leaders nationwide, will roll out in the first quarter of 2015 to allow women business owners to seamlessly connect as subject-matter experts, mentors, mentees and peers around specific goals and areas of mutual interest.
Meanwhile, our chapters have always been a tremendous resource for connecting members on the local level for mentoring support, whether it’s informally through personal introductions or formally through a program. NAWBO-New York, for example, has a strong mentoring program that was created to help women business owners achieve results in their businesses and in their lives. The program matches mentors and mentees who share similar business experience within similar fields. You can read about it here and watch a video about it here.
In this month’s NAWBO ONE e-publication for women business leaders, we’re excited to bring you articles around a mentoring theme. These include an expert Q&A with Ravi about his organization and NAWBO’s custom Mentorcloud platform, an article on our NAWBO-Orange County chapter’s successful mentoring program and a spotlight on a NAWBO member who can speak to the power of mentoring on her business successes.
Enjoy, and look for details soon about the official launch of NAWBO’s Mentorcloud platform! In the meantime, give another woman business owner a pat on the back, a listening ear or some sound advice—none of us should have to go it alone!
—Darla Beggs, NAWBO National Chair
The 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
We 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:
As 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:
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
Tags: board of directors, National Board of Directors, NAWBO National, women business owners
As 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