Some of the biggest risk takers I’ve known weren’t sky divers, or extreme sports enthusiasts, but rather entrepreneurs. One client in particular was both an avid mountain climber and sky diver and he would probably agree that his biggest risk was his business endeavor.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take certain calculated risks, especially if you have a nagging passion or vision to fulfill. In fact, risk should not stand in your way, as time is the only thing not on our side. I think author Marie Beyon Ray said it beautifully when she said:
“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand – and melting like a snowflake.”
Entrepreneurs to me are some of the hardest working and inspirational people you will come across
And, most came to success only after failing several times first. Female entrepreneurs are even more inspiring to me as they have had to push a little harder than their male counterparts to get that success most of the time.
Most males would not necessarily agree or understand that sentiment, and this isn’t about bashing men, but rather celebrating women entrepreneurs and their many successes. The “glass ceiling” still exists in my opinion, but women are busting through that glass with even more shattering force than ever before!
A woman entrepreneur needed her dad to co-sign
I was reminded of this recently as I sat at a table of women entrepreneurs. We were on the topic of financing small businesses and one woman told the story of how, when her business was formed in the early 1980’s they needed her Dad to co-sign for the business loan. At that time women were less able to obtain financing.
Women were not even allowed to apply for credit until after 1974 when the Equal Credit Opportunity Act passed.
Now we have come a long way since that time, but that doesn’t mean the struggles are over.
I made a dream become reality
Over a year ago, I had a vision of celebrating and showcasing the successes of women entrepreneurs. I have been working with entrepreneurs for over twelve years in eight counties and had noticed a lot of the business owners were women. I wanted to provide them an avenue to network with each other and showcase all of the great skills, products, and services that they had to offer.
I knew I would not be able to pull this off successfully on my own, so I pulled together a planning committee comprised of Jodie Perry and Kathy Fox of the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce, Shanna Stapleton; owner of Prospering Life Events, and Tracy Bond; Intern Coordinator for OSU/NCSC. Through the next several months we met and planned the “Women’s Business Showcase.”
We were overcome with excitement
On October 14th, the Women’s Business Showcase Inaugural event launched at the Renaissance in downtown Mansfield. I, along with my planning committee were overcome with excitement and pure joy as we saw all of our hard work and collaborations come together that day.
I was very humbled to see that same joy and excitement in the women entrepreneurs who attended to showcase what they work tirelessly for every day. The day started with set-up, breakfast with networking, and an inspiring presentation by Tracy Graziani and Donna Payne of Buzz Vantage. Mansfield Mayor Timothy Theaker came at the start of the public open house at 11am to help cut the ribbon and give an uplifting speech.
Many people came through to see the showcases from 11am-1pm and offer their support of these women-owned businesses. The mixture of businesses being showcased were diverse and their showcases were creative and inspiring. I am already looking forward to planning next year’s Women’s Business Showcase, and possibly other networking opportunities for women entrepreneurs.
Collaboration is more than a buzz-word
One key take-away I have been focusing on this year is “collaboration.” Yes, maybe this an over-utilized buzz-word these days, but I think it’s an important one, as we should all not work in our own little silos; “we are all in this together,” or at least we should treat each other as such.
We should all reach out to each other to empower one another, and help each other succeed. I know for myself, I could not have pulled off this event without the great planning committee team and the women entrepreneurs who participated.
Just imagine what we could accomplish for the entrepreneurial environment if we all collaborated and empowered each other more. And by doing so, our communities would be an even greater place to live and grow in too.
Michalina Lacy is the Director of the Small Business Development Center at North Central State College, and has spent 13 years working for the SBDC. In that span of time she has worked with many small business owners and entrepreneurs, in all industries and in all stages of their growth.
Michalina comes with an entrepreneurial background, having had a Mom who owned an import retail store, and having owned her own lawn care company in the past. She obtained an Associate degree in Business Management from North Central State College, obtained her Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Ashland University, and holds a Certified Business Adviser graduate certificate from the University of Toledo. Michalina provides free, confidential, consulting services in the areas of: business planning, strategic planning, marketing analysis/planning, financial analysis/planning, access to capital planning, human resources/employer requirements, research, and regulatory compliance, just to name a few.
An eager, young and wide-eyed interior design student, I sat through class after class digesting hours of design principles, color theory, space planning, human factors, the history of textiles and psychology of design; learning to delineate good vs. bad design (yes, there is a difference!); and identifying best practices in an effort to create environments for future clients that would speak to the core of their personalities and enhance the aesthetic quality of their day-to-day lives. The Frank Lloyd Wright lover in me was completely engaged. I worshipped Architectural Digest and Interior Design magazine and dreamed of being a featured designer. I loved a good DIY, thrift-shopping, and accepted any repurposing challenge. I was one of those college students who actually liked to go to class. A 20-minute walk in Downtown Pittsburgh at 7am? Sign me up. Gothic architecture against the modernity of a well-planned city with a design-centric vibe spoke to me; was—and still is—balm to my soul. As my parents sent me off to college, I can only assume their greatest relief was no longer coming home from a weekend trip to a dismantled family room, half-removed wallpaper in the bathroom, or constantly rearranged furniture.
It wasn’t glamorous, but I loved it
As the not-so-glamorous days of hand-drafting and model building (read: chipped manicures and lots of band-aids) drew to a close, I had developed such a love for human-centered design and the initial phases of that sort of work—development, schematics, specification—which lends itself well to commercial interior design. I knew, however, in my heart of hearts that my passion was working with residential clients. I spent my childhood drafting floor plans and redecorating my bedroom way too often. For me, there’s something deeply gratifying about creating an intimate space for clients that is both lived in and loved.
I’ve been fortunate to work on projects with some truly dynamic homeowners and, admittedly, am still equally as fulfilled spending my days immersed in the same principles and theories as in my earlier days. Equally left- and right-brained, I find solstice with everything in its beautiful little place. After all, the end goal for every project of my professional career is to make spaces and environments look and function in beautiful tandem. In fact, until a few years ago, I’d tell you it was that very work—my design of a space, my professional contribution—that left my clients with a beautiful, inviting home.
But then I became a mom.
Overnight it seemed, all those beautiful spaces—living rooms, kitchens, baths and bedrooms—the ones I designed for my clients and the ones I designed for my own home, they were all suddenly filled with baby gear clutter, and became the antithesis of a well-designed space. I quickly learned that laundry multiplied so fast it became a semi-permanent design staple, covering all the beautiful hardwood floors and woven rugs I loved so much. Somehow everything was eternally sticky, and all my thoughtful organization was undone after each and every 10-minute shower. (After 8 years of motherhood, this is still a phenomenon I’m trying to wrap my head around.) Our once beautifully-curated home was all-at-once an absolute mess.
With each passing year, that mess evolved into sweet memories I wouldn’t trade for the world: our flour-covered kitchen where I, with my sweet little toddler and her bouncing blonde curls baked our first cut-out cookies; the oil pastel stain on my favorite upholstered chair where my daughter so graciously demonstrated her newly-acquired art skills; the worn out spot on my favorite throw pillow that held both of our heads as we napped together… these were the beautiful design elements I have never been able to replicate or deliver for my clients; the elements that truly define beauty within a home.
I learned there is beauty in the mess
Looking back, I have such an appreciation for my parents as they navigated parenthood and saw beauty in the mess of my childhood. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see the same in my home with my two children, and that I am able to connect with my clients in a way that is far more mindful, aware, and humble than before I was a mom. I can design and deliver a well-curated space within any four walls, but the true beauty comes from the life, mess, and memories made within, and that’s something you can’t sketch on paper.
Mom and Dad, if you’re reading: the education I received during my first few years of motherhood is by far and away more valuable and meaningful than the post-secondary education we’re still paying for. Above all, I’m grateful you appreciate that, too. All in the name of a beautiful home, right?
What if we all gave on the same day?
I came across that headline when I was researching giving days for my job at the Richland County Foundation.
It’s a powerful thought. What if everyone in Richland County joined together on one day and gave something.
What would happen?
Would things improve for local nonprofit agencies and our community?
I don’t know. But we can discover the answers together because the day for you and me to make a difference is December 1.
Why December 1?
First you have Thanksgiving, then Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but what happens on Tuesday? The Tuesday after Thanksgiving is an international day of giving called Giving Tuesday. Two organizations, 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation started the social media driven charitable day in 2012.
A local online day of giving called Richland Gives will coincide with Giving Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The day is designed to encourage everyone to contribute to local nonprofits they care about through a single giving platform/website. The Foundation is hosting the day to build capacity, grow philanthropy and make the community stronger.
Richland Gives’ success will depend on our collective enthusiasm and implementation.
I am asking you to bring your skills and donations to this day.
Help me spread the word via your social media pages, texts, email or maybe a phone call to encourage a friend or family member with a heart for philanthropy to give on December 1.
Area companies and their employees also can work together to support Richland Gives by promoting the day. Sample email messages and Facebook posts are available on the website under the toolkit tab.
The day of giving will allow Richland County nonprofit organizations to raise funds and awareness as well as cultivate new donors and reinvigorate lapsed donors.
Go to the website, www.richlandgives.org , click the search magnifying glass, select all categories to view the more than 60 nonprofit agencies registered for the event. Each organization has an individualized web page to promote their cause. There was no fee for the nonprofit agency to participate, but it did take an investment of staff time to set up the giving pages and engage their donors.
Which one do you want to help?
For more information about the day of giving contact me at 419-525-3020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maura is director of donor services and communications at the Richland County Foundation. Her duties include internal and external communication and community collaboration.
She is experienced in public relations, writing and broadcasting – all of which are useful in her current position, which requires her to be versatile, flexible, organized, deadline-oriented and customer-service focused.
She creates and implement the Foundation’s marketing-social media strategy, writes and updates website content, coordinates community and media relations, plans events and participate in community initiatives.