Tag Archives: Entrepreneurship

Client Success Saturday!

Yovette Drake, owner of Flirtatious Lingerie Boutique, first accessed the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) through a Business Plan Critique Clinic, a small group setting that provides expert advice and precise feedback along with practical strategies to develop your business plan in conjunction with the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which helps entrepreneurs start a new business or expand or improve an existing business.

With 25 years of executive level experience and after conducting months of research and development, Yovette thought she knew what it would take to begin this entrepreneurial journey. However, within 3 months of opening her business, she realized that she couldn’t sustain the business with just selling lingerie.  Shortly after realizing this, and that she couldn’t rely solely on foot traffic and word of mouth, she went back to the drawing board. The idea of expansion and building out space not being utilized was the key to unlocking an entire set of new goals and developing a new plan. Flirtatious Lingerie Boutique now offers Kiss Studios, a space that allows their customers the opportunity to take fitness and dance classes, plus host parties and events.

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While going through the process of finding methods to improve her business, Meg Herman, the Director of Entrepreneurial services at the WBDC helped Yovette see things from a different perspective. The experience with WBDC helped her validate some of the things she knew but it also lead to question ideas she thought she knew in a more practical method.

When it comes to balancing personal life and work, she says “There is no real balance – it’s all a juggling act in which I work 90 percent of the time and sleep only 10 percent of the remaining time.” If you’re not ready to make that type of commitment to the business, you won’t last.”

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Yovette is very excited about the direction her business is going, but as any entrepreneur thinks, she is already strategizing ways to grow her business with the WBDC and other business partners. That is why she developed a series of workshops and events that will serve to bring the next generation of women entrepreneurs together to help empower and improve their businesses. In the next five years, Yovette hopes to see her business profitable with a strong client base.

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Encore Business Owners Share Business Tips

(L-R) Judith Roussel, IL District Director; SBA, Merrie Dee, AARP Illinois President; Hedy Ratner, WBDC co-founder & co-president; and Marianne O’Brien Markowitz Regional Administrator
U.S. Small Business Administration, Midwest Region

The speakers and audience may have been 50-plus, but their age wasn’t the issue. Starting a business was.

Nearly 50 mature women and men gathered at the WBDC on Tuesday evening, October 2, during the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) “National Encore Entrepreneur Mentor Day.” Marianne Markowitz, SBA regional administrator, and Judith Roussel, SBA Illinois district director, welcomed the group, then turned the program over to the celebrated speaker and media pioneer Merri Dee, now a business owner in her own right as well as president of the executive council of Illinois-AARP. Dee led a lively panel discussion featuring “encore” entrepreneurs on the rewards of starting a business after age 50.

The speakers were Donna Smith Bellinger, owner of Group Endeavors; Ben Hollis, former host of WTTW’s “Wild Chicago” and now an independent video producer who started Ben Hollis Worldwide; Joanne Cleaver, a former business journalist who launched a public affairs company Wilson-Taylor Associates; and Alan Jacobs, a former entrepreneur-of-sorts who volunteers at SCORE.

Their life experiences were as varied and diverse as they were, which is what made their words of wisdom all the more salient.

Merri Dee

“All you need are three things: passion, purpose – and a paycheck!”

Donna Bellinger

“The resource that helped me the most was my database of contacts. I started my business without a dime, but I had my database.”

Alan Jacobs

“I was a serial entrepreneur – a manufacturer’s rep who never had a regular job or paycheck. I understand exactly what it takes to succeed as a business owner. In my opinion, entrepreneurs who fail weren’t prepared.”

Ben Hollis

“I encourage people to embrace and live the wild life. Harness your passion, your wildness….I used to undervalue everything I did. I was just a funny guy. The limitations we place on ourselves get in the way. By listening to other people, I was able to reassess my own value. Pay attention to the things you do best. It’s what other people appreciate in you.”

Joanne Cleaver

“I restarted my career several times. I decided to base my latest transition on my skills. As a certified media trainer and coach, I now apply my skills to a different set of clients. I’ve transitioned from being self-employed to being a job-creator with a contract staff of specialists. My biggest challenge? In realizing my value. The biggest obstacle? Myself.”

With part of the evening’s focus on celebrating mentorship, the speakers shared advice on how to be a good mentor and mentee. Cleaver, for example, said joining professional organizations helped her develop peer mentors who mentored each other. Bellinger suggested looking for mentors who are honest and direct and who “have achieved what you struggled to achieve.” Don’t overlook the younger generation, she advised. You can learn from each other.

The WBDC will survey seminar attendees to determine whether a special affinity group for women business owners age 50-plus, and regular networking and educational sessions, are of interest.

Contributed by guest blogger Chris Ruys of Chris Ruys Communications.

For more pictures from the event, please click here.

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Lisa Price – An Inspiring Guide to Entrepreneurial Success

Below is an article from Saundra Underwood, founder of Lady Alexandra Skincare Systems.  Ms. Underwood writes from a personal perspective of what Lisa Price, keynote speaker at the 26th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference Hall of Fame Luncheon, has meant to her.  Not only has Ms. Price served as an inspiration, but also as a guide to entrepreneurial success.

I love reading autobiographies and biographies to learn about the history of famous and not so famous people.  Reading them gives me more than just the details of their lives.  I get a glimpse into their minds, the times they lived in and the places they visited.  They also give me hope and inspiration especially when they begin their books with very little and end with all of their dreams realized.

I read Lisa Price’s book, Success Never Smelled So Sweet, as soon as it came off the presses.  Though I had been following her story for years by reading articles in Essence and Black Enterprise Magazine little did I know that I’d one day be writing a blog about her and Carol’s Daughter, her company.  The book is rich in details and very introspective.  She shared and bared her soul.  I remember her speaking frankly about the frustrations of going from job to job and not truly fitting in at some places of employment.  I understand more about myself and my quest to do what is best for me.  I too  am a maker and creator of natural skincare products.  I’ve gone from one job to another not quite feeling comfortable in many positions; feeling as if something is not quite right.  What’s not quite right for most entrepreneurs is the feeling of neglecting the entrepreneurial spirit.

That entrepreneurial spirit can never be denied, pushed aside or crushed.  It will rise up when you least expect it.  It will come again and again until it is nurtured and given enough attention to be a force to be reckoned with.  Many have put into words exactly what it is but the best way to define it is by action.

In her book Ms. Price became alive and active when she was making and creating magic with scents, flowers and potions. She became alive with the research of the effects of scent on the mood and mindset.  The feedback from customers drove her forward.    Something that struck me from Lisa’s book was that her family members worked for and with her for years without drawing a salary.  I remember thinking what an amazing family.

While reading Success Never Smelled So Sweet I would often compare my story to Lisa’s.  I figured if my actions lined up with hers then one day I’d become the owner of a multimillion dollar enterprise.  I have passions and dreams, the drive to create and customers who love my products just as she does..   The one thing I didn’t have was family support only because I live three states away from my family.  But what I did have was a network of friends who have come to my aid whenever I needed their expertise or just support.  I still plug along but know that with time and effort the entrepreneurial spirit will guide me.

– Saundra Underwood

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Women’s Business Development Center: Your growth is our business. An explanation of the refreshed WBDC logo

The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) is excited and overwhelmed with pride at the release of our newly refreshed logo!  The logo features the traditional purple and orange color scheme that has become associated with the WBDC’s brand combined with a modern and progressive new icon and layout!

The icon represents the continuous growth the WBDC has experienced over the past 26 years as well as our commitment to partnering with business owners for growth throughout the life cycle of your business.  Leaves surround an upward moving “W” which is set in a forward moving fashion to illustrate the idea of business growth, expansion and advancement.

The new tagline, “Your growth is our business” underscores the WBDC’s continuing commitment to our mission: “To provide services and programs that support and accelerate women’s business ownership and strengthen their impact on the economy.”  While much progress in women’s business ownership has been made since the WBDC was founded in 1986, there is still much to be done.  The WBDC continues to develop and offer responsive, innovative and effective programs and advocacy efforts.  We’re here to assist you in taking your business to the next level.  

Watch for the new logo to begin appearing on WBDC print materials and online sites!

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