Category Archives: Uncategorized

What is a Disparity Study and Why You Should Participate ?

Did you know that diversity programs are constantly at risk of elimination?  Government agencies, corporations and large primes regularly review, and sometimes challenge, the need for small business utilization when awarding contracts.   Have you ever wondered what you can do as an owner to help ensure these diversity programs are available for your small, women-owned or minority-owned firm (often referred to as ‘disadvantaged’ businesses)?  One of the things you can do is be a voice for disadvantaged businesses by participating in diversity studies.  Women in Business Image

The timing is right for you to participate in a diversity study since the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) is currently holding disparity study interviews.  We encourage you to attend one of the interview sessions — click here for more information and to participate.

What is a disparity study?  The purpose of a disparity study is to determine if an agency or corporation has engaged in the exclusion of certain groups in the solicitation and award of current and past contracts. Disparity studies are necessary to illustrate the importance of ‘set-aside’ programs such as Women Business Enterprise, Minority Business Enterprise, Business Enterprise Program for Persons with Disabilities, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, etc.

A typical disparity study allows you to relate your experiences regarding contracting with an agency.  You may be asked questions surrounding the topics of:

  • Expenditures of contracts awarded

  • Subcontract dollars awarded by prime

  • Past or current policies, programs or procedures that drive the procurement of contracts

Quantitative and qualitative data is often collected through public hearings, interviews, surveys and focus groups.  Generally, anecdotal data is also collected to determine if race, gender or other forms of discrimination are present in the procurement process.  Studies typically follow a defined group over a defined period of time.

What are some other important reasons to participate in a disparity study?

Your participation could provide valuable information that validates an agency’s rationale for updating their diversity goals.  Disparity studies have also helped several local agencies establish a need for W/M/DBE programs.

To receive notifications about upcoming disparity studies as the Women’s Business Development Center becomes aware of them, please join our e-mail list at www.WBDC.org.

Sources:

http://www.nera.com/59_2147.htm

https://www2.illinois.gov/cms/events/Documents/CMS%20Disparity%20Study.pdf

http://bondsforschools.dadeschools.net/Files/Disparitystudyfaqs.pdf

Kristin Travis Headshot

By: Kristin Travis, IL PTAC Associate at the Women’s Business Development Center

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Government Shutdown and Your Small Business- 5 Things You Need to Know

  1. There are several functions of the U.S. Small Business Administration that will be affected by the recent government shutdown. Click here for SBA’s Plan for Operating in the Event of Lapse of Appropriations packet.  Business functions such as applications for business loans guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will be halted until the agency returns to its normal operations. The agency will, however, still administer disaster loans for businesses, such as those affected by droughts or Hurricane Sandy.  Existing loan guarantees will remain in effect.  For a complete listing of loans you can and can’t get, please click here.
  2. Contractors can find a listing of the contingency plans of the Federal agencies with which they do business on the White House’s websiteThis includes agencies such as the General Services Administration (GSA), Department of Defense (DoD) and the SBA. You can find a list of full and partial agency shutdowns here.
  3.  Many Federal call centers and help desks will be closed at this time, but some will remain open. The Federal Service Desk – a call center designed to respond to questions regarding your System for Award Management (SAM) registration will remain open.  Additionally, SAM will remain operational; registrations can be updated, managed and processed throughout this time.
  4. Several Federal government websites will not be updated until funds are appropriated to their respective agencies.  Others, however, will currently remain operational, for example, Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps), the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).
  5. Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) and Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) like the PTAC/SBDC at the Women’s Business Development Center are here to provide information as it becomes available regarding how your business may be affected.  Please do not hesitate to contact your local PTAC or SBDC.  If your business is located in Illinois, please click here to schedule an appointment with our PTAC/SBDC at the Women’s Business Development Center.  If your business is located outside of Illinois please click here to find a PTAC in your area or here to locate an SBDC in your area.
Kristin Travis Pic

Kristin Travis

 

by: Kristin Travis, IL PTAC Associate

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Filed under Business, Procurement, SBA, Small Business, Uncategorized, WBDC News

Five Sure-fire Business Building Tips from Top Women Entrepreneurs

What does it take to not only survive but thrive as a business owner? Who better to ask than the two entrepreneurs who will be honored at the WBDC’s 27th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference on September 26th!

Carolyn Gable, CEO of New Age Transportation, Distribution & Warehousing Inc., will receive the Entrepreneurial Woman of the Year award, and Lili Hall, president and CEO of KNOCK, inc., will receive the Entrepreneurial Woman of the Year – WBE Success award. Here, they give us a taste of the business-building tips they’ll share at the 27th Annual Hall of Fame Awards Luncheon.

  1. Be positive and believe! A business owner’s biggest challenge — to stay positive –starts “on the day you have your first thought about business ownership,” according to Carolyn.

    Carolyn Gable

    “It’s easy to stay positive when the phones are ringing off the hook, but expect many ebbs and flows along the way,” she continues. “Being a business owner means taking on the huge responsibility of always ‘knowing’ that things will work out.”

  2. Never take anything for granted. Lili, who self-financed the launch of her ad agency during the 2006 recession, admits she wasn’t always sure the business would survive. Today, after having lived through two recessions, she believes that maintaining an attitude of appreciation helped get her through the toughest times. “I’ve learned that having patience, perseverance and the right attitude always prevail,” she affirms.
  3. Let go of your ego, and don’t be ruled by emotions. Carolyn recalls angrily walking away from a lucrative piece of business because the client was reluctant to pay her what she believed to be was a fair commission. As she climbed into her car to leave the meeting, she realized that she hadn’t handled the situation properly. “Silly to ever let your ego or emotions rule in those situations,” she states.
  4. Hire the best employees you can afford.

    Lili Hall

    Lili suggests surrounding yourself with a collaborative team of people who are entrepreneurial in spirit and who are as passionate about the business as you are. You want employees who “are open to smart, new ways of doing things,” she says.

  5. Never ever give up. “Just when you least expect it, your next big account or big sale is on its ways to you,” Carolyn affirms. “Your next miracle is just a phone call or an email away!”

Ready for your own miracle? Then don’t miss the WBDC’s 27th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference, Women’s Business & Buyers Mart. Online registration is closed, but you can register at the door!  See you there!

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Filed under #EWC27, Business Leaders, Uncategorized, WBDC, WBDC- Minnesota, Women Business Owner

Breakfast Panelists #EWC27 Part 2 – Emilia DiMenco & Debra Jennings-Johnson, Plus Moderator Terry Savage

If you’re in the market for some great business words of wisdom and inspiration, then you won’t want to miss the 27th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference on Thursday, September 26, at McCormick Place.

Emilia DiMenco

Emilia DiMenco

Joining WBDC co-founders Hedy Ratner and Carol Dougal on stage at the popular Forum Breakfast will be three women with a passion for helping women business owners succeed. They’re oh-so-ready, willing and eager to share their tips on what it takes to make it in the business world.

Emilia DiMenco, the WBDC’s dynamic new president and CEO, and Debra Jennings-Johnson, supplier diversity director at BP America Inc. and the WBDC’s long-time board president, will participate in what is certain to be a dynamic conversation, moderated by best-selling author Terry Savage.

When you bump into Emilia, Debra or Terry at the Conference, make sure you have these personal tidbits to launch a conversation that can build your business connections!

Debra Jennings-Johnson

Debra Jennings-Johnson

  • Emilia loves to travel abroad. As a graduation present, Emilia will take her soon-to-be-an-engineer son on a trip to Africa. Last year, she took a three-week trip to China.
  • Debra, who collects antiques and art, was inspired to have a career in business because of two role models: her successful aunts.
  • When she’s not traveling to major speaking engagements or writing another book on finance, Terry relaxes at her second home in Wisconsin where she boats and rides one of two show horses.
Terry Savage

Terry Savage

So what the does future hold for this evolving organization and women’s business ownership in general?  To find out, don’t miss EWC and as always, stay tuned to the WBDC’s Twitter and Facebook accounts! One thing’s for sure:  the WBDC will continue its commitment to fighting the challenges that continue to exist everywhere for women- and minority-owned businesses.

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Breakfast Panelists #EWC27, Part 1 – Hedy Ratner and Carol Dougal

Hedy Ratner and Carol Dougal, who on August 1 stepped aside as co-presidents of the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC), are synonymous with women’s business ownership. They started the organization 27 years ago with one purpose: to give women a leg up in finding economic independence through entrepreneurship. Hedy Ratner and Carol Dougal

You’ll get their take on this still-timely topic at the Women’s Forum Breakfast during the 27th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference September 26th at McCormick Place, Lakeside Center. They’ll be joined on the panel by Emilia DiMenco, the WBDC’s dynamic new president and CEO, and Debra Jennings-Johnson, supplier diversity director at BP America and the organization’s long-time board president, in what is certain to be a dynamic conversation, moderated by the inimitable best-selling author Terry Savage.

A few things you won’t hear about at this year’s Forum Breakfast are the more fun facts about Hedy and Carol.  However, they do make great conversation starters so keep them in mind when you bump into one of them walking the tradeshow floor or networking at the reception!

  • Hedy is an avid biker, not just on weekends but weekdays when she pedals to and from meetings – in gaily-colored silk dresses, no less.
  • Hedy is a new bride. She married the love of her life, retired PR exec Mort Kaplan, in August of 2012.
  • Hedy, who with Carol is an ardent feminist, will continue at the WBDC as a consultant, working on women’s economic empowerment issues.
  • Carol has a weakness for bright colors, green jello, the movies – oh, and “holding babies,” which she plans to do a lot of, now that she’s retired.

So what the does future hold for this evolving organization and women’s business ownership in general?  To find out, don’t miss EWC and as always, stay tuned to the WBDC’s Twitter and Facebook accounts! One thing’s for sure:  the WBDC will continue its commitment to fighting the challenges that continue to exist everywhere for women- and minority-owned businesses.

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WBDC 4th Annual Technology Makeover Contest Winner – Rebecca Fyffe, ABC Humane Wildlife

We are all familiar with pigeons, especially those of located in the metro Chicago area.  And we all tend to have the same feelings about them – “gross, get rid of them.”  One Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) is making that happen: ABC Humane Wildlife. The company is led by Rebecca Fyffe who serves as the president and submitted the winning Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) Technology Makeover Competition.

2013 marked the first year the WBDC Technology Makeover Competition was offered on a national scale and only to Women Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Certified WBEs.  The WBDC received applications from California to Florida and found there continues to be a need for updated technology within businesses of all sizes.

Rebecca’s organization has big plans for the software and hardware they won:

“The WBDC’s Technology Makeover is the best thing that could ever happen to my company. It would allow me to make a powerful and instant change that I estimate would increase my leads by 40 percent or more immediately! Within 90 days of having new hardware (server and workstations) ready to run our custom software, we would have the program in place just in time for the peak breeding season for most of Illinois’ animals as well as peak nest building season for bees.”

tech makeover

From L-R: Mark Key, CDW; Rebecca Fyffe, ABC Humane Wildlife; Carol Dougal, WBDC

ABC Humane Wildlife was announced as the winner of the Competition at WBENC’s 2013 National Conference & Business Fair in Minneapolis in June.  As a part of the prize package, Rebecca received hardware, software and marketing services from AT&T, CDW, Market M and Microsoft, as well as tickets to the WBDC’s 2013 Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference and WBENC’s 2014 National Conference.

For more information on ABC Humane Wildlife, please click here.

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Filed under Business, Technology, Uncategorized, WBDC News, WBDC- Minnesota, WBE, Women Business Owner, Women in Business

Gear Up for Growth – WBDC’s Child Care Business Expo Boosts Business in Chicago

Did you join the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) for our 15th Anniversary Child Care Business Expo on June 1st?  If you missed it, here’s a rundown of the inspirational and educational day:

Over 500 attendees…

Child Care Business Expo

visited 55 Exhibitors ranging from Illinois Action for Children to Dominick’s…

Exhibitors CCBE 2013

 and heard from 5 Deserving Award Winners.

Watch the video playlist below to meet:

– Arabel Alva Rosales, AAR & Associates, LTD., Child Care Champion Award Winner

– Lindsay Cochrane, representing Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Friend of Child Care Award Winner

– Peg Dunne Pavelec, Little Inspirations, Fast Track Award Winner

– Teresa Gomez, Wonderland Day Care Center & Wonderland Home Day Care, Unsung Hero Award Winner

Dr. Latrice Walker, Pre-Fit, Hedy M. Ratner & S. Carol Dougal Legacy Award Winner

Child Care Business Expo Legacy Award

2 Shift Into High Gear Afternoon Workshops taught entrepreneurs effective marketing and business finance.

CCBE Afternoon Workshop

2 Stellar Expo Chairs – Patty Kryscha, Southwest Airlines & Kimberlee Burt, A Child’s Space welcomed guests.

Expo Co Chairs

2 Dynamic Honorary Co-Chairs

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle & Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon (not pictured)

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle opening the Exhibit Hall with WBDC co-president Hedy Ratner (w/ scissors)

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle opening the Exhibit Hall with WBDC co-president Hedy Ratner (w/ scissors) and Expo Co-Chair Kimberlee Burt (far right).

One powerful Luncheon panel shared their insights into the future of Illinois child care.

Luncheon Panel

(L-R): Kate Cozzani, Monique Draper, Janice Lopez and Arabel Alva Rosales

Did you experience the Expo with us?  Do you have any questions that didn’t get answered at one of the workshops? Ask them below!

To see more pictures from the event, check out the WBDC Facebook page.

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Filed under Uncategorized, Business Start-up, Child Care, Special Events, Marketing, Business, WBDC, Small Business

Women’s History Month – What It Means to Millennials

During a regular Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) blog post, we focus on small business, growing your opportunities and raising public awareness. For this article, we’re going to shift our focus to what Women’s History Month means to some of the Millennials or Gen Y staff members at the WBDC and why it is so important to celebrate now, more than ever.


We asked, “Do you think junior to senior high school girls are aware of the suffrage movement?”

Kristin Travis:“Yes, but just like abolition, civil rights, religious, labor union movements, in the minds of youth today this is something that happened a very long time ago, and these issues are such that I believe they (wrongly) think have been resolved.”
Rebecca Glaubke: “I believe that many girls are aware of the suffrage movement but most do not know the details about all that happened and what women had to go through in order to fight for the rights we have now.”

2013 marks the centennial celebration of the first suffragists marching for equal rights to vote.  In the past 100 years, women have seen great changes, both socially and economically, but have the core issues remained?

Bethany Hartley: “In 1913 we were dealing with being stereotyped and told what our position was by men, but today we deal with self-inflicted stereotypes.  The same issues are still there, parity in the workplace, independence, etc. just coming at us from a different angle.”
Kristin: “Our biggest issue is the way we are portrayed to ‘mainstream America.’  The way we are portrayed in reality TV is deplorable.  We are still shown in the media as those who are put in place solely to serve others (children and men): Susie homemakers, the mammies, the soccer moms, the wonder-women, the gold digger…the other.”

On the other side of the coin, change has brought about new issues.  We asked, “What do you think is the number one issue women your age face today?”

Rebecca G.: “I believe the number one issue for women in their early 20s would be employment and living situations. For many women who are my age, it is tough to find a job right away after graduating and being able to afford to live on your own and away from your parents. There are few entry level positions that pay well enough to pay for rent or housing, whether you live by yourself or with roommates. Having few options makes it stressful to find employment that will pay well.”
Carolina Diaz: “I believe the biggest issue for women my age is the struggle to balance personal life with a career.”

From the perspective of the women we talked to, women’s rights is still an important issue – one that has only grown as the number of women in the workforce has increased.  The need for organizations that bring together professional women and educate the next generation is all too relevant. In closing, we looked for a solution, and it’s a simple one that falls on the shoulders of women at any age:

Rebecca Diaz: “Women need to be educated about women’s inequalities in order to fully understand the importance of women’s rights. Read books, articles, use social media and any resource to learn as much as possible. Younger women need to be proactive in advocating for women’s rights. No one is expected to change the world in one day – but encouraging our network of friends, colleagues and our community to enforce education and equality on any level is change in itself. Don’t perpetuate discrimination against women by ignoring and conforming to social and cultural stereotypes. Let’s open our eyes, ignite conversations and demand change.”

We encourage you to share your thoughts on the biggest issues you see for women, young and old.

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Filed under Uncategorized, WBDC, Women Business Owner, Women in Business, Women's History Month

Business Finance: Anywhere, Anytime

As the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) continues to expand our Access to Capital Program we are focused on extending services through direct lending and the development of online/on-demand course offerings.  Whether your business is in the city of Chicago or throughout our nine state Midwest region, we strive to provide your business with a strong financial foundation.

The WBDC’s online/on-demand educational platform will be launched in spring 2013.  Ingage Partners, a Certified WBE company, partnering with TiER1 Performance Solutions has been selected to assist the WBDC in implementing this new system.  The first course, Take the Mystery out of Finance, will be offered in both Spanish and English and cover the basics of finance for your business.  The WBDC selected this course as the launching pad for our online education because we know how important business financial literacy is in running a successful business.

In the interim we have put together a list of useful, easy to use tools to help manage your financials from your computer, tablet or smartphone.  Take a look and let us know which ones you have used.

  1. Wallstreet Journal Excel Shortcuts: Simply put, these cheat sheets
  2.  help navigate running your finances through Excel, particularly useful when utilizing the WBDC’s Financial Projections Excel spreadsheet.
  3. InDinero: Access and manage your books, file your taxes and take care of payroll on multiple devices through a secure connection.  Plus, the company was founded by a woman – Jessica Mah.
  4. Intuit’s GoPayment: Allows you to accept payments anywhere, from anyone with no transaction fees.  Be careful to read the full details, as there are costs associated, but at least the app and cancellation are free.
  5. LightSpeed Retail Inc.: A virtual, portable hub to keep track of sales and inventory, create invoices and print receipts.
  6. MIT Entrepreneurship Open Courses: While this isn’t an app, it is a great resource for free online entrepreneurial education.

What do you use to manage your business finances?  Have you tried any tools that simply do not work?  Let us know!

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Filed under Business, Entrepreneur, Finance, Small Business, Technology, Uncategorized, WBDC, Women in Technology

WBDC Retail Business Clients Share Their 2013 Business Strategies

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday may have been a bonanza for many WBDC retail clients, but even before the December holidays were over, most had their eye on the New Year. Read their business-building strategies – and be inspired!

JulieJulie Horowitz Jackson, Owner

Virtu, 2034 N. Damen Av.

www.virtuchicago.com

One-of-a-kind gifts such as handcrafted jewelry and stationery are Julie’s stock and trade. In 2013, she’ll alter her buying plan by reducing inventory and adding new artists. In-store events will be bumped from six to ten. She still plans to write guest articles for gift and chamber of commerce publications, but her real focus will be on expanding her own blog, “Virtues,” with a precise editorial calendar.

 

Deborah Kramer

Deborah Kraemer, Owner

Abbey Brown Soap Artisan, 1162 W. Grand Av.

www.abbeybrown.com

Deborah’s new year begins with a bang on January 4 when she plunges in to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. She’ll handle the intensive curriculum, which requires two full days of weekly classroom sessions and plenty of “homework,” by turning over more duties to her two managers. Deborah will expand the number of on-site soap-making classes and maintain her level of involvement teaching high school students small business skills in the After School Matters program. For Deborah, January also means taking a complete business inventory and manning a booth at the Chicago Gift Show at the Merchandise Mart. Oh, and she’s designing several new products. Did we mention this is all BEFORE she begins the Goldman Sachs program? Stay tuned!

Laurel Stradford

Laurel Stradford, Owner

What the Traveler Saw, 1508 E. 55th St.

www.WhatTheTravelerSaw.com

Coming off of a successful 2012, Laurel says she’s bringing “a new heart and hope” to the new year. Her popular store will be open more days and more hours. She will amp up her marketing and regularly post information on her new blog and Facebook page. Sadly, the “traveler” was only able to schedule one trip in 2012, but that will change in 2013. Jazz festivals in Europe and a return trip to Turkey, as well as many invitations from other travelers, beckon.

Oh, the excitement, hope and promise of creating those New Year’s business-related resolutions! What plans do you have to take your business to the next level? Share your strategies in the comment section below!

Contributed by guest blogger Chris Ruys of Chris Ruys Communications.

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Filed under Business, Entrepreneur, Goldman Sachs, Marketing, Small Business, Small Business Saturday, Uncategorized, WBDC, Women Business Owner