Women have opportunities that we have never had before.
Doors are being opened and it’s our responsibility to walk through them and hold them open for those who follow, whether that is joining an organization like NAWBO, or advising those who are just starting out, bringing in an intern, frequenting a women-owned business, being a mentor, or referring her business. Find your female tribe and support them.
Doors are being opened and it’s our responsibility to walk through them and hold them open for those who follow
In a previous blog, I talked about NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners). It was really the first time I spent any time with other women business owners, not just since starting a business, but ever. I want to tell you about some women I met through NAWBO who have been inspirational to me.
Our chapter unfortunately dissolved several years ago. There are a lot of remaining chapters and as a whole, the organization is targeted to small women-owned businesses and at the time (at least in our chapter), only women could be members. There was a board for each chapter, ours being the Southeastern Virginia chapter, with committees and goals for the chapter on a local and national level.
It was an environment where I was able to grow and thrive. When I joined the chapter, the president at the time took me under her wing and introduced me to others in the chapter and encouraged me to get involved. There was a feeling of comradery among us. As members, we did business together and referred business to each other whenever possible. We looked out for each other.
There was a monthly dinner meeting and we would invite business people from the community to come in and speak. There were monthly board meetings, committee meetings, national conferences, and public policy meetings in DC. I made several friends through NAWBO and remain close with some of them. It was on one of my trips for a national conference that I met a pretty remarkable woman who is now one of my dearest friends and a trusted member of my tribe.
I was in Utah for a national conference when I met Dot and learned that she was from our chapter. Dot was actually one of the founding members of our chapter and remained involved until it was dissolved. I have not met another woman who does more to support others.
Dot tells a great story of starting her construction business many years ago. When she went to the bank for a loan she was told she had to have her husband co-sign the loan for her. In spite of the challenges, she created a very successful business that evolved into something that her family became involved in.
Dot was responsible for starting Meals on Wheels in her city years ago. She has always been involved in state and local politics. I’ve known her to be a great friend to many people and she is always so supportive. Whether it’s for a board position, nominating you for an award, or an introduction to someone you might want to do business with, she’s all about promoting others, especially women. Dot is special.
Dot has taught me the importance of giving back to your community, including looking out for others.
I have another friend from NAWBO who bought her business after working there for several years. She has successfully grown it into a multi-million dollar business, all while raising her girls as a single mother. Dory is a no-bullshit kind of person and will not hesitate to tell you how she feels about something.
She’s the one we used to always buy anything that said, “put your big girl panties on and deal with it!” You never need to question where you are with her. We were having a conversation about some mistakes we (Web Teks) made and after months of discussing the impact of those mistakes she told me, “well, the good news is, you will never make THAT mistake again!” Very pragmatic. Dory is smart.
Dory has taught me about being tough and to never give up.
The last friend I will mention is also like family. I met her right around the time I joined NAWBO. Vivian helped me get insurance for the company and has been an advisor and friend since. I introduced her into the group and she fit right in. Another woman who forged her way as a single mother and is now a successful financial advisor. She shared the best part of herself with me, her daughter Carrie, who has been working for Web Teks for almost 15 years. Vivian is strong.
Vivian has taught me about looking out for myself, in business, financially, and personally.
Find Your Tribe
These are only three of many women who have had an impact on me. They are all strong. Wicked strong. They are all successful and very smart. They paved their way for themselves, and for those of us who followed.
Finding NAWBO soon after starting my business was a blessing in many ways, including teaching me about sitting on boards and introducing me to public policy issues surrounding women in business. The opportunity to travel and learn from others and their business successes, and failures. But the biggest was teaching me how to be supportive of other women.
If you Google “women-owned businesses” there are a lot of resources available to help you get started or to get involved in after the fact. Before 2020 there were over 11 million WOB’s in the US. Collectively we generate 1.7 trillion dollars and employ over 9 million people. Considering everything that has occurred in 2020, WOB’s need our support now more than ever.
If you are a WOB I encourage you to get involved with one of the various organizations that can support you. I challenge you to do business with , or refer business to, a WOB. We have made so much progress in the past 50 years and it’s important to support each other so our community continues to grow and pave the way for those who will someday follow our paths.
A few resources for women-owned businesses:
Until next time, when I write about the value of community involvement for a small business.
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