Category Archives: WBDC

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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Filed under #EWC27, Business, Business Leaders, Uncategorized, WBDC

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

Contracting Tips from WBDC’s IL PTAC Director

Freida Curry

Freida Curry, IL PTAC Director

Contracting with local and federal government agencies can be a challenging process without the proper guidance.  The Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) at the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) is here to assist in this process.  Freida Curry, IL PTAC Director sat down to give five tips to building an effective government contracting strategy:

  1. Laser focus on one or two government agencies in which to do business.  Do your research to find government agencies that buy what your business sells
  2. Create a capability statement for your business.  This “living” document lists your core competencies, past performance distinctions and other pertinent information about your business.  Click here to read more about capability statements.
  3. If you want to do business with the Federal government, you will need to register your business in the System for Award Management (SAM). Please click here to access the SAM website. If you want to do business with a local government agency, register yourself as a vendor on their procurement page.
  4. Report your economic impact! Reporting of your economic impact is directly tied to the funding PTACs receive to keep counseling free and keep workshops and seminars at a low (or no) cost. (Illinois businesses may report economic impact by clicking here.)
  5. Schedule a counseling session at no charge with your local PTAC. If your business is located in Illinois, please click here to register for PTAC counseling, if your business is not located in Illinois; please click here to locate the PTAC nearest you. PTACs can provide your business with:
    • Customized research to be applied to your government contracting strategy
    • A free service such as Bid Match to send contract opportunities tailored to business straight to your email
    • A review of your bid package, capability statement, SAM profile and many other government contract related documents

For more information or to schedule a PTAC appointment today please contact Kristin Travis at ktravis@wbdc.org or 312.853.3477.

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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

The Tax (Wo)Man Cometh! WBDC Gets Advice from the IRS

Yolanda Ruiz

Yolanda Ruiz

With Tax Season quickly approaching, we at the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) want to make sure you are the most prepared you can be when it comes to doing your small business taxes.  Who better to ask about taxes then the IRS?  For that we turn to Yolanda Ruiz, IRS expert and employee and frequent presenter at WBDC workshops on business taxes.

1.       What is the number one question you get from small business owners seeking assistance with their taxes?

“Unfortunately, many come to me when they are behind in their taxes asking about payment options. One of our partners noted ‘One of the major obstacles that business owners encounter with their businesses was not being aware of their responsibilities to the IRS. Most are repaying the IRS for lack of paying payroll taxes or estimated tax payments.’ It’s hard to catch up when you fall behind, knowledge is key.”

2.       What is a common misconception you see about taxes or the process of filing?

“Trying to reduce your tax bill is illegal. Actually, with tax planning you can legitimately reduce your taxes. Washington is constantly sending out incentives in way of additional write-offs and hiring credits (Section 179, Bonus Depreciation, HIRE). Utilizing these incentives will reduce your tax bill while expanding your business.”

3.        What resources are available to small business owners (especially those on a budget)?

“E-news for Small Businesses is an electronic newsletter that comes out every other Wednesday. It will provide you with information on current incentives (additional deductions/credits) for small business as well as free resources. To subscribe go to: http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Subscribe-to-e-News-for-Small-Businesses

IRS also has VITA sites that offer free tax help to people who make $51,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. For a VITA site near you, go to – http://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/

The IRS is proud to partner with Center for Economic Progress/ Tax Clinic. They can help you if you have a dispute or problem with the IRS to solve your issues quickly.  Also, they will be able to file current and previous tax returns. Call the Tax Clinic at (312) 630-0241 for an appointment, or go to http://www.economicprogress.org/clients/got-letter-irs for more information.

The IRS is proud to partner with The Law Project, a nonprofit that provides free services to qualified business start-ups: http://www.thelawproject.org

4.       What online resources would you recommend?

“The Virtual Small Business Tax Workshop online is composed of nine interactive lessons designed to help new small business owners learn their tax rights and responsibilities. It includes topics such as EIN, Business Structures, Recordkeeping, Classifying Worker and Business Taxes.

Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center on irs.gov – http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Small-Business-and-Self-Employed-Tax-Center-1

No more spending time navigating the IRS website, all that you need is on this page. “

“The purpose for tax education is not to make you a tax professional but to give you an awareness of your tax responsibilities and the many benefits that are available. By having an awareness of how your business should be run (for tax purposes) you can ensure that your accountant/tax preparer is compliant with filing and payments, you will avoid problems and you will allow your business to grow.”

The WBDC also wants to make sure you and your employees know about the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. If you file as a Schedule C, you as a self-employed individual may be able to receive the credit.  Click here to learn more.

The EITC is a refundable federal income tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and families. With the additional funds, the majority of recipients invest back into their local economy and can truly help grow small businesses.  To learn more about the EITC, please click here.

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Filed under Business, Business Start-up, IRS, Taxes, WBDC, Women Business Owner, Women in Business

Social Media for the Professional Woman

Networking is key to building a successful business.  Not only should you attend networking events within your local business region, but also pay attention to online networking.  One of the top business networking sites today is LinkedIn, and with refreshed profiles, updated business pages and highly interactive groups, it’s here to stay.  Here is how you can efficiently and effectively maneuver through LinkedIn.

Profile Picture1. Update Your Picture!  Yes, this point is part vanity, part practical, mostly practical.  Make sure your profile picture is recognizable as you today – not ten years ago. A great picture shouldn’t be a glamour shot of what you look like touched up, unless you walk around with a makeup team on a daily basis.  Make it inviting, warm and add a hint of marketing by matching your attire with your brand colors or strategically post a logo in the background.

Connecting Picture2. Connect! It may seem like common sense, but you have to connect with people on LinkedIn to make it work for you.  When you send out invitations, keep it to people you have actually met or that you share a connection with.  In your invitation, explain why you’re connecting, unless you contact them on a regular basis, and then it’s okay to send a standard invite.  Be sure to check out who’s inviting you to connect; take a look at their profile, connections and groups.  Remember, once they’re a connection they can see your full profile and interactions.

LinkedIn Picture3. Join (and ENGAGE in) Groups: Explore all LinkedIn has to offer by joining groups relevant to you.  Search for your alma mater or one of your offline networking groups to join.  Active groups provide great information and events that can help you boost your business.  If you’re a woman business owner in the Midwest, consider joining the WBDC’s LinkedIn Group, Inspired Women, to engage with other professional women looking for advice, input and inspiration.

Resume Image4. Use It, or Lose It!  Make sure to update your not only your picture, but also your profile.  It’s a living resume, so keep it current.  You never know who’s looking for the skills and experience you have to offer.  Keep things interesting by making your headline relevant and engaging, with trigger words.  Learn more about headlines, and other parts of your LinkedIn strategies, in this free webinar recording.

LinkedIn Picture25. It’s About Business!  If you have a business, you should have a business page.  LinkedIn has come a long way in cultivating the business pages to better serve companies.  They now have header images, status updates, video advertising, product promotions and more for followers to interact with.

Spend 10 minutes a day implementing some of these tips, whether it be commenting in a group or updating your profile, and see what comes of it!  You never know what you’re missing out on until you try new strategies.

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Filed under Business, Business Leaders, Business Start-up, Entrepreneur, Established Business, Marketing, Social Media, Technology, WBDC, WBDC News

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

“Where do I find a grant to start my woman-owned business?”

All too often at the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) we hear the question, “Where are the grants for women to start their businesses?” The answer: There are none.  No really, there are none.  If you find a grant for women starting a business, please post the information in the comments below, because in the last 27 years we have yet to see one.

Yes, there are loans for business start-ups, small business competitions with cash prizes and occasionally, you can find grants through Small Business Administration (SBA) non-profit partners, if you are already in business, but you aren’t going to find a grant without showing you have some “skin in the game.”  You need to prove that you are just as invested in your business as investors, grantors or lenders are going to be.  It’s time to get serious and shift your focus from looking for free money to building a solid foundation with a business plan, a thorough analysis of your financials (past personal and projected business) and target market research.

A question was recently posted on PartnerUp regarding the necessity of a traditional business plan.  Some thought they were irrelevant in this day and age of the ever changing business climate, while others saw them as completely necessary.  What do you think? Based on what we’ve seen with clients over the years, the ones that write down their idea into a solid plan and update that plan on a yearly basis have seen the greatest success and continue to sustain a fruitful business.  Plus, when it comes time to look for funding, it’s unlikely you’ll be taken seriously without putting your business in writing.

So what can you do if you’re a start-up looking for funding?  If you’re in Chicago, consider the WBDC Micro Finance Program, a direct lending program where the WBDC, as a core member of the Chicago Microlending Intitute (CMI), is making loans for Chicago business owners seeking additional support.  Plus, the WBDC provides a free webinar, Take the Mystery out of Finance, every month, and below is the most recent recording of the presentation, which covers crowdfunding and more. Watch it, take notes, and if you have questions ask us at wbdc@wbdc.org.

In two weeks, we’ll discuss more about furthering your education as a business owner when it comes to finance.  In the meantime, take time to become educated on financial resources available for you.  Here are just a few more, besides WBDC, to take a look at:

  1. Accion
  2. SBA
  3. FunderHut
  4. Family and friends

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Filed under Business Start-up, Established Business, Finance, SBA, WBDC, Women Business Owner, Women in Business