All Articles Tagged "women entrepreneurs"
National Association of Women Business Owners Partners With Sheryl Sandberg Organization For New Program
The National Association of Women Business Owners has partnered with LeanIn.org for a new program meant to provide educational opportunity for women business owners, as well as access to experienced business owners. LeanIn.org, which is dedicated to helping women in the workforce around the world, was co-founded by Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg, and shares a name with her best selling book.
The partnership offers three programs, outlined by Black Enterprise: Lean In Community, which brings men and women together to talk about their business experiences; Lean In Education, offering free online lectures; and Lean In Circles, which meets monthly in small groups to discuss issues of importance. You can red more about the programs on the NAWBO website as well.
Sandberg’s book, which is called Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, is topping Amazon’s list, with 140,000 copies sold in its first week and 400,000 copies total in print. The AP says Sandberg wants the book to be the impetus to a movement that will help more women rise through the ranks in the workforce. Just prior to its March 11 release, The New York Times wrote: “Ms. Sandberg, whose ideas about working women have prompted both enthusiasm and criticism, is attempting nothing less than a [Betty] Friedan-like feat: a national discussion of a gender-problem-that-has-no-name, this time in the workplace, and a movement to address it.” The book has sparked discussion about gender relations in the workplace across the media. It’s also come under fire because it seems like its messenger — a wealthy woman with access to all sorts of resources — is advising little women about the path to success.
“But criticism is also starting to build: that Ms. Sandberg places too much of the onus on women who are already struggling to fulfill impossible demands, and too little on government and employers to provide better child care, more flexible jobs and other concrete gains,” the Times continues.
Carol Sankar is a bestselling author, wealth coach and marketing strategist. Before she started Carol Sankar Enterprises, a business consulting and real estate investment firm, she worked as a senior paralegal representing Fortune 100 corporations and various law firms. Now, she has two full-time employees and several independent contractors on staff.
Following a move to Charlotte in 2005, Sankar started investing in real estate. Success quickly followed. It was this financial success that spurred her to develop The Millionaire Mindset Entrepreneurship Program, a trademarked program Sankar started teaching to her clients in 2009. Her ability to help others build success has landed her in national magazines like Ebony, Career, Essence and Harvest.
Madame Noire: Why did you stop working as a senior paralegal and start your own legal consulting firm?
Carol Sankar: I was unhappy. I wanted a change. I’d dream about operating my own business. However, I was dependent on my income. I started my legal consulting company (it was called New Edge) as an after work project while I continued to work my regular job. After operating my consulting business on the side for about 18 months, I turned a profit. However, the thought of being a full-time entrepreneur scared me, so I held on to my regular job for security. Subsequently, the company I worked for downsized and my entire department was laid off.
Now I had to turn my side job into my full-time job. I began advertising, networking, and meeting with different organizations throughout New York City. Within months, my business was on autopilot. I was featured in newspapers, on radio shows, at events and more.
I operated my business full-time from my living room in Brooklyn, NY with clients lined up everyday looking for assistance with immigration, wills and divorces. I outsourced some work to other attorneys, and not long after, attorneys began to hire me to become their outsourced staff. It was an amazing time.
MN: Were there times when you wanted to abandon your business and go back to working for someone else?
CS: Of course! I don’t think there’s a true entrepreneur who doesn’t feel the urge to return to corporate America. You become adjusted to the security of a paycheck and benefits. When you operate your own business, there are no sick days, lunch hours, vacation time, breaks or holidays. I work when my clients need me; unlike corporate America, which gives you defined space, duties and time to work. However, when I sit back and watch how I built my company from the ground up, I feel proud. Then the feeling to return to a corporate job goes away.
MN: How much did you initially invest in Carol Sankar Enterprises?
CS: I used money (approximately $18,000) I got from the sale of New Edge to start Carol Sankar Enterprises. I saved on my upfront investment by working from home, and focusing more of my attention on marketing to get the company off the ground. I focus on commercial real estate investing (investing in properties like apartments, office complexes and shopping centers). Right now, I’m in the middle of investing in my third shopping center in North Carolina. The other two commercial properties I co-own are apartments; one is in Memphis, the other is in Gastonia, NC. You can get property from your city government or from auctions for $500 or less, renovate and restore them, then lease them for profit. We net about $5,000 a month with the apartments. Once a property pays itself off, we re-invest the money back in the business.
MN: What types of services do you offer clients?
CS: We offer coaching/consulting for startup entrepreneurs, primarily sole proprietors, who are struggling in their business. We teach entrepreneurs how to market their products/services, build a support system (e.g. workforce), manage their time and resources wisely, etc.
Although the 2012 Grant Thornton International Business Report may observe that 21 percent of senior management roles are held by women globally, around the world women are expertly succeeding in business and in growing their fields.
In South Africa, the Oliver Empowerment Awards, a prestigious event to highlight leadership and innovation in empowerment, showcases two talented and driven businesswomen with their top awards.
“Women lead governments in Argentina, Australia, Brazil and Thailand and now head the International Monetary Fund and one of the five oil companies, Ron Fletcher, Impumeleo magazine’s publisher said to Biz Community. Impumelelo, Topco Media’s annual empowerment publication, hosted the event this year.
“Sadly, just 9% of businesses have a female CEO. This is despite the fact that women constitute more than 50% of the population. It is therefore even more gratifying to identify and thank these two trailblazers for their contribution to transformation which is about gender equality as much as it is about ethnicity,” he said.
Sibongile Maseko won the award for The Top Black Entrepreneur of the Year. Maseko finished her schooling and jumped in civil engineering at a construction company. As she began to work her way up, she found herself interacting with several small business entrepreneurs in the industry and decided to join their ranks. She started her business Bongi-M Construction from her own personal savings.
Nonkululeko Gobodo received the Top Black Business Leader of the Year award. Gobodo became the first black woman chartered accountant in South Africa. She then took on owning her on business, Gobodo Incorporated. Her business has gone from a few employees in South Africa’s Eastern Cape to a staff of 450 with seven regional offices.
“The winners clearly demonstrated that they had integrated transformation as part of their business processes,” Fletcher said. “The merits of this approach is evident in the business’ sustained success and worthy of celebration.”
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While the road to success and the million dollar mark may still be difficult for women-owned business to reach, a report by American Express research advisor Julie Weeks reveals that these women entrepreneurs are defiantly making strides in their various industries.
“It looks like the million-dollar, women-owned firms are doing better now than they were 10 years ago,” Weeks tells The Wall Street Journal.
The report observes that women-owned business begin to struggle when they reach $250,000 to $499,000 in annual profit. This becomes the breaking point for many of these companies as they deal with management issues.
“Women go in [to business] having technical expertise but they don’t have the managerial skills,” Marsha Firestone, the president and founder of advisory group Women Presidents’ Organization said to The Wall Street Journal. “To run a business, you need a lot of skills — marketing, financial, (human resources). You may not, in fact, have all those skills.”
In addition, businesses that make it past these management issues and into million dollar territory often do so at the expense of ownership. As they grow they begin to take on more stakeholders and owners making the company less than 51 percent women-owned.
Still, the reported 1.8 percent of women-owned companies in the one million dollar of 2011 is growing steadily in 2012.
“They do have bigger dreams now,” Firestone says of women entrepreneurs. “Women didn’t have the big dream 20 years ago. I think that’s changing.”
Shanta Speller leads a double life. By day, she is an associate director of program manager for TIME.com. By night, she turns her focus to her side business, Bunch of Balloons, logging in over five additional hours after leaving her 9-to-5. It was Speller’s encouraging father who instilled this drive in his daughter early on when he said, “You should always have something to fall back on.” These words stayed with her well into adulthood. “I knew I wanted to do something on my own, ” says Speller, 32. “In high school the idea was planted.”
It’s no secret that women are big on entrepreneurship. But what’s not known is that although women start businesses at a high rate, many of those businesses don’t go above $1 million in revenue. Inc. spoke to a few successful women business owners to get their feedback on why many of their peers are not expanding and accelerating their businesses.
Women need to take more risk
When women think of businesses and entrepreneurship, they consider how that lifestyle will factor into their responsibilities as a mother and wife in the future. Those are serious concerns of course – however, those concerns may hinder how one projects growth and conceives of future development.
“Liz Elting, CEO and founder of global language service provider TransPerfect, advocates another tack: Go for broke when you are young and have nothing to lose. Don’t worry about what your life will be like in 10 years. Dream big and follow your dreams. When your business grows, so do your options for work/life balance.”
Women need to get tougher
Basically, you can’t be too nice. You have to understand that you’re in a business where hiring, firing, and cutting are part of the job. Essentially, women can’t be too scared of being perceived as a Itchbay.
Men need to get over themselves
Men often benefit from networking opportunities that take place in bars or on the golf course. Women are often left out, not only to their own detriment but also to the detriment of the men themselves.
Women need to get over themselves, too
Women also need to network amongst themselves more and also lend a helping hand as mentors to other women entrepreneurs.
Everyone needs to build more flexible businesses
In this day and age, we have more resources at our fingertips to work remotely. With the flexibility that’s being made accessible by technology, we need to think about building companies that foster and complement the new possibilities.
Wrote Geri Stengel: Let’s start firms that don’t follow the same old businesses model; let’s build a model that can accommodate the differing needs of GenY, parents, Type A workers, and those who want to work reduced hours. You can retain and grow talent by being flexible — flexible about taking a year off for family without losing a rung on the career ladder; flexible in working hours; flexible about telecommuting. If we don’t restructure business culture, we’re going to keep losing the talented people we’ve paid money to train.
by Darralynn Hutson
Growing up in the inner city of Kansas City, Missouri, LaShawnna Stanley had dreams of being her own boss. Motivated to never accept the status of “Welfare chick,” LaShawnna said the birth of her daughter was the driving force for her to succeed. “I was the only chocolate chip in my family and for a long time, I never could really identify,” expresses Stanley, 42. “I met my family on my dads side for the first time at the age of twelve and it made me feel happy that I was me. It’s so important to know where you come from.” Today, the owner and CEO of Ethnicity Models, a flourishing modeling and talent agency that specializes in ethnic models – is on a mission to motivate other women to do the same.
MN: How did you start Ethnicity Models?
LaShawnna: I initially started the company recruiting models that looked good in my clothes. I owned a clothing boutique on the beach (in South Beach, Miami) and needed girls with curves; we starting doing fashion and modeling shows on the beach. More and more people came, especially celebrities and that’s how it started to grow.
MN: What was your method of raising money?
LaShawnna: I worked for corporate America for 10 years and had profit sharing account that I liquidated to start my business. It wasn’t a great deal of money but I used what I had to get a little start, reinvested what I made until eventually I had a complete business. I think it’s important for aspiring entrepreneurs to know that you do not need lots of money to start a business, you can start with a little and grow from there. Focus on doing what you love and the money will come.
MN: Who were your first clients and how did you close the deal?
LaShawnna: My very first client was a charity event for Magic Johnson’s foundation. Magic had been a mentor of mine for many years. He knew I started the company and gave us the opportunity to gain exposure. After that FUBU was in Miami looking for models for a calendar they were producing. I went to the casting with my models and waited until the end to have a one-on-one conversation with the owner Daymond John and convinced him that FUBU and Ethnicity pretty much had the same meaning and that he should use my models.
MN: How did you find the best models?
LaShawnna: It’s funny, I’ve never really had to find models, they always find me. Once I started out with my first five models and the word got out about how protective and supportive I was with my company; not to mention they call me “the negotiator” when it comes to getting the best pay rate for the girls. I get so many request from models, I had to start a online talent database community website that helps me manage and keep track.
MN: What type of Boss are you?
LaShawnna: I’m fun and playful; most people feel like they’ve known me for years. But when it comes to business, all games are put aside. As soon as the job is complete, I’m back to being my silly lil self. I’m the type of boss that creates other bosses, if you are around me, I will bring the entrepreneur out of you one way or another. You will look up and have created some type of business out of doing what you love. I love bringing that out of people.
MN: What advice do you have for aspiring models?
LaShawnna: My advice would be do your research first before anything else. Trust your intuition; if something doesn’t feel right, trust that feeling. Last but not least, don’t do anything in this business that you can’t share and be proud of with your mother and grandmother.
MN: What’s your advice for women struggling with being their own boss?
LaShawnna: Take time out for yourself no matter what. Learn balance and realize the business will still be there after your mani-pedi and massage, so don’t neglect taking time out for yourself. The happier you are, the more business and opportunities you will attract. I also recommend reading self help books by other bosses such as Russell Simmons, Oprah and Donald Trump. It will motivate you and also give you new ideas and inspiration.
MN: What is it that sets you apart from other Talent/Modeling Agencies?
LaShawnna: Ethnicity is personable and very family-oriented, which I think people are drawn to. I also set very high standards for the company and will not settle for less. Now, I listen to the lyrics in a song before booking my models. I can turn down a job if it degrades women. I didn’t do that in the past but now I’m taking responsibility for how women are portrayed. The girls have rules and regulations that they must adhere to. And I must enforce them. On set, I’m called the momma bear, a lot of the producers don’t like me. I have to fight all the time to keep respect. I didn’t know that at first, I had to learn that.
MN: How do you maintain and continue to grow in a lazy economy?
LaShawnna:You have to diversify yourself and your business; you have to have more than one avenue of income. In addition to representing talent, I am a casting director, producer, and I still own an online boutique and just started a modeling academy. I do motivational speaking for aspiring models & entrepreneurs, as well as, women’s empowerment life coaching. I believe the universe is abundant and it’s only a lazy economy if you believe it is.
Former journalist Dee Daniels is a woman with a certain talent for developing business initiatives. In 2004 she created Noir Woman News, a monthly news insert published in the Chicago Sun-Times. This business soon transformed into Noir Woman Ad Network, a website designed to give African American women a voice in the community. With her newest venture, Digital Diva 2.0 Women in Technology, Daniels hopes to assist women of all races. Chicago Business reports that Digital Diva 2.0 is designed to give aspiring women tech entrepreneurs a platform to network.
Daniels knows first-hand how difficult it was to start a business and how clueless she was when she first started. The 48-year-old Chicago resident saw how fast the tech scene was growing in Chicago and observed the lack of support for women.
“Through my business, I started running into a lot of women who were involved in technology — developers and coders and women who were creating sites — and everybody was saying, ‘There’s nothing here for us as a group,’” Daniels tells Chicago Business.
In efforts to remedy the problem, Daniels decided to step in and create a company to help these women entrepreneurs. Her business is much more than a women technology news site; it’s also a woman accelerator for start-ups in Chicago. In addition Daniels’ company brings women together to network and find support over panel discussions and events and also spotlights women in the industry.
“Ultimately, we want this to be a monthly place where people can come and get the resources they need. The events are the second Monday of every month,” she said.
So far Daniels has events lined up and available on Digital Diva for any interested women entrepreneurs. More importantly, she hopes that women realize just how valuable the internet is in starting business.
“When you have a bad economy like we do, online is probably one of the least expensive ways to start a business, yet women are more consumer-driven online than we are in building businesses,” she said to Chicago Business.
“I would like to see that change. A lot of that is because women don’t see the Internet as a business. Yet it’s not just a social environment. Somebody is making money off of us, so why are we not getting some of that money?”
Women entrepreneurs are flourishing at rates higher than the national average, an official at the United States Department of Commerce reports, and black female entrepreneurs comprise a large part of that success story.
Rebecca M. Blank, the acting deputy secretary of commerce tells BET that businesses owned by black women have a total sales count of almost $37 billion, a 78 percent increase since 2002. Most of these business owners take on businesses in health care, social assistance, administrative and support and waste management. In addition to women entrepreneurs, Blank also disclosed that “women make up a far larger percentage of minority-owned business than they do in white-owned businesses.”
These findings and other important business statistics were discussed at a forum recently held in New York City sponsored by the Obama administration. Over 200 women entrepreneurs took part in the forum, which featured top-ranking businesswomen who offered their experience, lessons and advice for how to grow business to the group.
Blank revealed that these women businesses were not only expanding, they were growing despite financial boundaries.
“Women are far less likely to use external capital and more likely to rely on their own credit cards,” she said. “And the question is: How do we open more avenues to access to capital for women.”
Entrepreneur speakers touched on these difficulties, and stressed the importance of research to create solid business plans.
“I had to learn to really crunch the numbers and to understand the necessity of doing the financials,” entrepreneur Monique Greenwood said at the conference. Greenwood is the owner and chief executive of Akwaaba Bed & Breakfast Inns, which is a 16-year-old hospitality company. She has locations in Brooklyn, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
“It’s extremely important for women to follow their passions — and to do the financial work,” she said.
The White House Business Council, the White House Council on Women and Girls and the United States Small Business Administration were also key sponsors to the event.
There’s nothing wrong with a little hustle when you face mounting financial responsibility and a stagnant income as you try to make ends meet. Many women looking for extra cash may first think of personal businesses such as Avon and Mary Kay, but for those of you not into selling make-up, maybe you’ll find jewelry is more your thing. New jewelry start up Chloe + Isabel is helping to give women an entrepreneurial set up with minimal investment.
The new company was founded by Chantel Waterbury, who has 15 years of experience in the corporate jewelry industry. Waterbury’s jewelry designs have been seen in stores from Kenneth Cole, Nordstrom and Macys to Gap Inc . and Kohls, to name a few. The name stems from the company’s “friendship philosophy–” two best friends who are different in their own ways, but joined together by a love for jewelry. The company has already earned several accolades and was included in Business Insider’s list of “20 best new startups of 2011.”
Isabel + Chloe features various rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces and more in various collections including “modern metals,” “novelty,” and “natural glam” that can be bought online or through a personal merchandiser.
“It gives women a chance to be businesswomen without taking a big risk,” Anne Hess, a merchandiser with C +I said.
Hess has worked in marketing, advertising and sales for over 20 years and is excited to recruit women entrepreneurs for the new jewelry company.
“I get to engage and socialize with the women in a way that is so different than retail… I actually get to know my clients at trunk shows and help them find jewelry that fits their personal style,” featured merchandiser Jordan says on the C +I website. The 22-year-old made $400 on her first trunk show in 3 to 4 hours.
C + I merchandisers earn 30 percent commission from all personal sales. New merchandisers are given a starter jewelry kit, 50 percent off purchases to build a display collection, leadership training that continues as employees advance, free jewelry for the first 90 days and a personalized online boutique.
“It doesn’t matter if someone is currently working, is a student, or wanting to replace a full-time income,” Hess said. “I will help them to achieve their personal goals.”