Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs

Women Entrepreneurs

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Women EntrepreneursSome 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.