Tag Archives: Women in Business

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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Client Success Saturday!

Paula Rodriguez, owner of Paula Interiors, learned of the Small Business Center (SBDC) at the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) in November of 2013 through Starting a Business in Illinois, a workshop that explores the legal, licensing and general requirements of business ownership. At the time, Paula’s only objective was to see if her business idea was good enough to become reality. At an early age, Paula knew she wanted to be a designer but was uncertain as to what type of designer. When it was time to decide which path to follow, she asked herself what she wanted to accomplish in life. Paula knew that she wanted be able to create functional spaces and help people create a beautiful home and a space where family and friends can gather and create new memories. Through interior design, she is able to fulfill her creativity as well as express the passion that she has developed for structures and planning.

On August 2, 2014, Paula’s dream turned into a reality with opening her own design studio and retail space full of original pieces of art and sculptures along with a mix of vintage, antique and new furniture. She contributes her success to the help and support of the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the WBDC.

“They (WBDC) guided me in all steps and laid down a path of how to start. I went to the WBDC to be paired with someone who helped me create a great business plan.”Paula_Interiors_Client photo

Paula goes on to say, “The counselors gave me a lot of feedback, answered all my questions and pointed me in the right direction. They also helped me analyze my financial options.”

Paula’s goal is to continue to strive to create a style that reflects the uniqueness of a house and its owner(s) by creating a space where functionality meets innovation.

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Women’s Small Business Month at the WBDC

We live in a world where women truly mean business. Women businesses have made great strides in the last decade. 60 percent of all personal wealth in the U.S. is held by women. 85 percent of all consumer purchases in the U.S. are made by women. Women over the age of 50 have a combined net worth of $19 trillion. And globally, women are responsible for $20 trillion in spending, a number that is expected to rise to $28 trillion by the end of 2014.

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The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) through the Office of Women Business Ownership (OWBO) and Women’s Business Center programs (WBCs) has paved the way for women business owners (WBOs) to succeed in business and expand in the opportunities created from the Women’s Business Ownership Act. The 25th anniversary of the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988, a landmark piece of legislation that put an end to state laws that required women to have male relatives sign business loans, has also given women entrepreneurs increased access to counseling and training, capital and contracts.

Despite October being Women’s Small Business Month, the WBDC recognizes and commemorates the fact that women are a dominant driving force to economic growth and development – creating jobs with 8.6 million women-owned businesses in the U.S year round.

It was not that long ago in 1986, when less than 10% of U.S. businesses were women-owned.  In the workplace, women earned only $24,479 to men’s $38,088 in annual wages. These statistics, and the lack of women in positions of power and leadership, spurred Hedy M. Ratner and Carol Dougal to create the WBDC, one of the first women’s business assistance centers in the U.S. The WBDC has grown from a two-person operation to a national leader in women’s economic development.  The WBDC has grown to a staff of 32 full-time employees and consultants, a roster of expert trainers, and a powerful Board of Directors comprised of successful women business leaders from across the WBDC’s nine-state Midwest region.

But importantly, our clients, speak for what we stand for. Ninva Concepcion, owner of Little Kid n Me Daycare/ Learning Center, explains “As a woman entrepreneur, there will always be obstacles and people who try to bring you down, but for every person who doubts you, there will be three people, like Janice, Eva and I, who will encourage you to keep going, stay determined and follow your dreams!” Women like Ninva Concepcion helps to propel the mission of the WBDC, which is to provide services and programs that support and accelerate women’s business ownership and strengthen their impact on the economy.

Think of women like Hedy, Carol, Ninva and the millions of other women business owners as you build your business or make your purchasing decisions.  Make every month Women in Small Business Month.

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5 Tips for Building Business Relationships that Lead to Successful Corporate Contracting

Cynthia Johnson, WBDC Director of Established Business Services

Cynthia Johnson, WBDC Director of Established Business Services

Contracting with major corporations can bring big bucks to any business, but what are the best ways to accomplish your goal of building the key relationships that mean profit for your business? Cynthia Johnson, Women’s Business Development Center’s (WBDC) Director of Established Business Services, shares five tips for successful corporate contracting:

1. Do research – doing business with a corporation isn’t about what they can do for you, but rather what you can do for them. The best way to find out their needs is to really understand a corporation’s mission, history, goals etc. Small business owners, particularly women and minorities, should create a vendor profile on the corporation’s supplier diversity page. The vendor profile includes contact information and other pertinent information about your business and can be accessed by supplier diversity representatives and corporate buyers. On the supplier diversity page, not only can you find information regarding corporation objectives, but you can be notified of outreach events and other relationship building opportunities.

Connection Points

2. Network with fellow small business owners – networking is vital, so make it count. We have an entire program called Connection Points built around the concept of focused networking. Networking with those who are in related or complimentary industries can offer all involved parties the opportunity to share ideas, trends, talents for the purposes of building relationships and strengthening businesses.

3. Value Proposition – it is important to write and maintain a strong value proposition, a clear concise “living” document that is used to give potential corporate clients a glimpse at the value your business can offer them. Your value proposition can be used as a means to introduce yourself or to as a relationship building tool in a one-on-one presentation meeting with the potential corporate client such as WBDC’s Contract Connections Program. In a value proposition you should:

Lead with your business strengths – make sure you highlight your capacity to manage awarded contracts, your financial strength & stability, past successes, bonding capacity (if applicable) and that you exemplify outstanding client services & best practices. Simply stating “I’m certified” won’t do; you must also display that you will offer the same high performance that corporations expect of all businesses they work with, and as a value-add you are also a certified WBE, MBE, DBE or VBE*.

4. Keep current – Renew your certifications and don’t let them lapse. Make sure you have paid close attention to any deadlines and paperwork you may have to complete to make this possible. Keeping current also means continuing to grow within your industry. Joining trade associations, subscribing to industry publications, attending industry events and sharing information with your professional peers will help you to stay relevant and build your expertise. These items are also impressive to add to your supplier diversity vendor profile and value proposition.

5. Be Persistent, But Patient – building a relationship in the business world is like building any other relationship. You want to let your potential corporate clients know you exist and highlight your value to them, but remember building a relationship takes time. Follow up is encouraged, but don’t be overbearing, when making a call or sending an email give time for the supplier diversity representative to process the information. Strong business relationships can take months or even years to cultivate, but in time, using these steps you can set the groundwork to be a success in corporate contracting.

For more information or set up an appointment to develop your corporate contracting plan, please call 312.853.3477 or contact Cynthia Johnson at cjohnson@wbdc.org. For government contracting tips, click here.
*WBE: Women’s Business Enterprise. MBE: Minority Business Enterprise. VBE: Veteran Business Enterprise. DBE: Disadvantaged Business Enterprise

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Celebrating Women Business Successes in Minnesota

The Women’s Business Development Center-Minnesota (WBDC-MN) is celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2013.  To commemorate this milestone, as well as Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) and WBDC-MN corporate partners, and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) National Conference & Business Fair coming to Minneapolis this June, the WBDC-MN held its 7th Annual Celebration of Success.

Attendees were honored to hear from MN Senators Franken and Klobucher as they addressed the crowd via video.  Both spoke of the great things the WBDC-MN is doing for women business owners and the work that is still ahead. See the videos below:

 

The Celebration of Success was held earlier this year and honored truly deserving individuals and companies that support the growth of women’s business ownership.  Awardees included:

WBDC MN Pic of Award Winners

The WBDC-MN honored the achievements and success of local women entrepreneurs and supporters of women’s economic development, including (from left) Lisa Holter, shareholder, Fredrikson & Byron, P.A., Advocacy Award; Lynne Alexander, chairman and CEO, The Bureau of Engraving, Inc., WBE of the Year Award; Kelly Wold Smith, owner/president, Futura Marketing Inc., Giving Back Award; and Molly Larsen, supplier diversity senior manager, Best Buy, who accepted the Corporate Partner of the Year Award on behalf of the corporation.

  • WBE of the Year Award to Lynne Alexander, chairman and CEO, The Bureau of Engraving, Inc for her company’s success in leveraging its WBE status to secure business, and for outstanding contributions to the community and WBDC-MN.
  • Corporate Partner of the Year Award to Best Buy, for its outstanding commitment to supplier diversity and the utilization of women-owned businesses in its supply chain. Best Buy’s supplier diversity senior manager Molly Larsen, who accepted the award on behalf of the corporation, spoke of the evening and the award:

“Our program is relatively new so it is great for our team to be recognized for all the hard work we done over the past three years. The snowy weather didn’t keep folks away! The turnout, the food and the venue were fantastic.”

  • Giving Back Award to Kelly Wold Smith, owner/president, Futura Marketing Inc., for extraordinary contributions to the success of the WBDC-MN, its certified WBEs and the women’s business community.   Kelly says of the award:

“It is a milestone for me to have made it to a place where I can help others –I am so honored to be in a position where I can be honored for my contributions to a wonderful organization like the WBDC.”

  • Advocacy Award to Lisa Holter, shareholder, Fredrikson & Byron, P.A., for strong commitment to women’s economic development and long-standing, generous support of the WBDC-MN.

The WBENC Regional Host Committee, featuring top WBE companies from throughout the WBDC’s nine state Midwestern region, was also introduced through the video below, created by Lili Hall, Host Committee member and president/CEO of KNOCK Inc.!  Learn more about the Host Committee here: http://www.wbenc.org/wbencconf/conf-host-committe.php.

Will we see you at the WBENC National Conference & Business Fair in Minneapolis June 25-27th? Best Buy’s Molly Larsen will be there and is looking forward to the conference, “I am always inspired by the dedication, talent, determination and creativity of the WBEs. They inspire me to continue to improve the program at Best Buy and find opportunities to purchase from them.”  Plus, Futura Marketing’s Kelly Wold Smith will “absolutely” be there, and suggests if you’re planning on attending to see “the lakes – I live in the western suburbs and personally I don’t think a summer trip to the Twin Cities is complete without a boat cruise on Lake Minnetonka!”

Click here to see more pictures from the celebratory evening.

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The Women’s Business Development Center Invites You to the 26th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference in Chicago, IL!

The WBDC staff invites you to attend the 26th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference, Women’s Business & Buyers Mart on September 20, 2012 at Chicago’s McCormick Place-West!  View the video below for your invitation!

Register now to spend a full day connecting with key buyers, supplier diversity staff and/0r purchasing decision makers from both the corporate and government sectors!

Learn more about the events taking place on September 20th by clicking here.

Take a look at the Women’s Forum Breakfast Speaker Announcement here!

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The WBDC Fuels the Fire Behind Women’s History Month: Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment

This year’s theme for Women’s History Month is Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment. 

While we often celebrate Women’s History Month with images of women like Susan B. Anthony and Amelia Earhart staring proudly into the camera, remembering great women and events that moved women forward in business, society and politics should also recognize improvements made in the nearer past.

At the WBDC we celebrate a history of 26 years of empowering and educating women business owners, who are breaking through barriers and making their own history.  Take a moment to look back at letters from WBDC Co-Presidents Carol Dougal and Hedy Ratner over the last few years.  Additionally, the WBDC is proud to share a visual timeline of our organization’s past through our newly renovated Facebook Timeline.

2011 Letter “We became standard-bearers in a movement, empowering women through business ownership.”

2009 Letter “As fierce advocates of women’s economic and business development, now, more than ever, it is vital to showcase and grow the incredible accomplishments of women business owners whose impact on the economy has been seismic.”

2007 Letter “We are mindful, however, that reputation does not lead to success; success leads to reputation.  And a good reputation leads to great responsibility.  We are where we are because we have remained as faithful to our mission in 2008 as we were in 1986, the year we began.  While our mission may calibrate as times change, the core remains the empowerment of women through successful business ownership.”

2006 Letter “We came from longtime careers and volunteer hours advocating for women’s health, education and employment parity.  And based on our frontline experience, we knew one thing: Women’s empowerment depended upon economic independence.  We figured one surefire way to get there was through business ownership.

We had no shortage of clients.  The women who entered our doors were single, married, widowed, divorced, with kids or childless.  What they had in common was ambition, drive and a desperate need for business skills, role models, encouragement and support.”

2004 Letter “In 2003, over 34% of all businesses in the Chicago metropolitan area are women-owned, and women of color own one in five of these businesses.  Naturally, there are an estimated 6.2 million women-owned businesses generating $1.15 trillion in sales and employing 9.2 million workers.

Within this context, the Women’s Business Development Center continues as a national leader and innovator in economic development and empowerment of women.  We remain steadfast in our dedication to generating economic opportunities and an enhanced quality of life for women and their families.”

Historical Women - WBDC's Co-Presidents Hedy Ratner & Carol Dougal

Share these empowering quotes with others and let it be reiterated that every month is Women’s History Month!

*We are also excited to share a great opportunity to speak with Secretary Hilda Solis and Deputy Administrator Marie Johns this Wed, 3/28 at 230P EST to discuss women small business owners!  Please click here to register for this event.

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New NAICS Code Size Standards for Small Businesses

For the first time in about 25 years, the Small Business Administration recently changed its definition of “small business” in a variety of industries (see chart below). The end goal for these changes is to increase access to federal contracts and access to capital. “It allows small businesses to retain their small-business status and contracting officers to have a larger selection of small businesses to choose from for contracting opportunities,” said a SBA spokesperson.  The changes go into effect March 12,2012.  How do you think they’ll impact your small business?

Chart provided by: Cherry, Bekaert & Holland, published originally here.

NAICS Codes

NAICS industry title

Current size standard
($ millions)

Proposed size standard
($ millions)

Revised size standard
($ millions)

541110 Offices of Lawyers

$7.0

$10.0

$10.0

541191 Title Abstract and Settlement Offices

7.0

10.0

10.0

541199 All Other Legal Services

7.0

10.0

10.0

541211 Offices of Certified Public Accountants

8.5

14.0

19.0

541213 Tax Preparation Services

7.0

14.0

19.0

541214  Payroll Services

8.5

14.0

19.0

541219 Other Accounting Services

8.5

14.0

19.0

541310 Architectural Services

4.5

19.0

7.0

541320 Landscape Architectural Services

7.0

19.0

7.0

541330 Engineering Services

4.5

19.0

14.0

Except Military and Aerospace Equipment and Military Weapons

27.0

27.0

35.0

Except Contracts and Subcontracts for Engineering Services Awarded Under the National Energy Policy Act of 1992

27.0

27.0

35.5

Except Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture

18.5

25.5

35.5

541340 Drafting Services

7.0

19.0

7.0

Except Map Drafting

4.5

\1\

\1\

541350 Building Inspection Services

7.0

19.0

7.0

541360 Geophysical Surveying and Mapping Services

4.5

19.0

14.0

541370 Surveying and Mapping  (except Geophysical) Services

4.5

19.0

14.0

541380 Testing Laboratories

12.0

19.0

14.0

541410  Interior Design Services

7.0

7.0

7.0

541420  Industrial Design Services

7.0

7.0

7.0

541430 Graphic Design Services

7.0

7.0

7.0

541490 Other Specialized Design Services

7.0

7.0

7.0

541511 Custom Computer Programming Services

25.0

25.5

25.5

541512 Computer Systems Design Services

25.0

25.5

25.5

541513 Computer Facilities Management Services

25.0

25.5

25.5

541519 Other Computer Related Services

25.0

25.5

25.5

541611 Administrative Management  and General Management Consulting Services

7.0

14.0

14.0

541612 Human Resources Consulting Services

7.0

14.0

14.0

541613 Marketing Consulting Services

7.0

14.0

14.0

541614 Process, Physical  Distribution and Logistics Consulting Services

7.0

14.0

14.0

541618 Other Management Consulting Services

7.0

14.0

14.0

541620 Environmental Consulting Services

7.0

14.0

14.0

541690 Other Scientific and Technical Consulting Services

7.0

14.0

14.0

541720 Research and Development in the Social Sciences and Humanities

7.0

19.0

19.0

541810 Advertising Agencies

7.0

14.0

14.0

541820 Public Relations Agencies

7.0

14.0

14.0

541830 Media Buying Agencies

7.0

14.0

14.0

541840 Media Representatives

7.0

14.0

14.0

541850 Display Advertising

7.0

14.0

14.0

541860 Direct Mail Advertising

7.0

14.0

14.0

541870 Advertising Material Distribution Services

7.0

14.0

14.0

541890 Other Services Related to Advertising

7.0

14.0

14.0

541910 Marketing Research and Public Opinion Polling

7.0

7.0

14.0

541921 Photography Studios Portrait

7.0

7.0

7.0

541922 Commercial Photography

7.0

7.0

7.0

541930 Translation and Interpretation Services

7.0

7.0

7.0

541940 Veterinary Services

7.0

7.0

7.0

541990 All Other Professional, Scientific and Technical Services

7.0

7.0

14.0

811212 Computer and Office Repair and Maintenance

25.0

25.5

25.5

“The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) is increasing 37 small business size standards for 34 industries and three sub-industries (“exceptions” in SBA’s table of small business size standards) in North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Sector 54, Professional, Technical, and Scientific Services. SBA is also increasing the one size standard in NAICS Sector 81, Other Services, which it did not review in 2010. These size standards are all receipts based. SBA is retaining the current standards for the remaining industries in NAICS Sector 54. This rule also removes “Map Drafting” as the “exception” to NAICS 541340, Drafting Services. As part of its ongoing comprehensive review of all size standards, SBA has evaluated every receipts based size standard in NAICS Sector 54 as well as the one previously unreviewed size standard in NAICS Sector 81 to determine whether the existing standards should be retained or revised.” – from Federal Register

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Valentine’s Blog: What do you love most about owning your own business?

Valentine’s Day is a day spent showing the one we love special attention by sending flowers, chocolate and other trinkets of affection (hopefully all from a locally-owned establishment).  Let’s not overlook the love entrepreneurs have for their businesses.  This year we asked the question “What do you love most about owning your own business?” through Facebook, Twitter and on LinkedIn.  Check  out the responses below and leave a comment with what you love most!

“It is intoxicatingly fulfilling to realize a dream and feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose that I have never felt before”

Linda Quarshie is a recent WBDC FastTrac Graduate and owner of AOAactivewear. Learn more about her active wear line here and follow here @AOAactivewear.

“I love that I can think ‘outside the box’ to find a solution to unique needs as they arise without going through other channels for approval.  My business potential is only limited by my imagination.”
Robin Frank is a Long Term Care Analyst & Planning Strategist.  You can find out more about her business here or here.

“I love the politics of owning a love-driven company, I love the feeling that I can do something meaningful with my life by lifting other entrepreneurs, I love the freedom to create and explore new business opportunities, I love the dedicated people with whom I work – like the peeps in this group and I love the entrepreneur spirit.”

Lennie Rose is CEO of The Big Ooga, a Chicago-based small business and entrepreneur networking community.  Learn more here, or follow Lennie @BigOoga.

“I love the fact that it gives me the flexibility to do charitable work and spend quality time with my family without feeling guilty or like I’m undermining my career.”

Max Elliott is a Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning Attorney located in the Chicago area.  Learn more about her business here and follow her @maxelliottlaw.

“The ability to chose who I work with so they align with the beliefs and ethics of how I want business portrayed.”

Lori Johnson is the President of Ladies, Start Your Engines! LLC.  Learn more about her business here or follow her @LSYE.

“I like that my business is a reflection of me.  I like being able to push myself in ways I didn’t think I could.  Sounds trite but it’s absolutely true.”

Cynthia Collins Cieckiewicz is the owner of Uptown Soda Bread, learn more here or follow her @UptownSodaBread.

“I love that my business provides jobs for others!”

Adela Red is a product & service company that coordinates events, offer set and show services, as well as apparel and accessory products. Learn more about Adela Red here.

“I love being able to spend quality time with my family and still be able to use my type A personality to help other businesses succeed.”

Kimberly Loftis provides a broad range of financial management and business consulting services to a variety of clients as well as individuals. Learn more about Loftis Consulting here.

” I just sent out 2011 tax forms to my employees. I love providing jobs!”

Lauren Milligan is President of ResuMAYDAY, which provides resume development, interviewing skills coaching, networking coaching and everything that job seekers need to conduct a high-impact job search.  Learn more here and follow her company @ResuMAYDAY

“It’s the next best thing to giving birth! Creating your own business and watching it grow is amazingly fulfilling, particularly if your “baby” helps others grow within the industry as well.”

Jill Glaser is a Freelance Media Makeup Artist at Make Up First, LLC in Chicago.  Check out her company here and follower her @makeupfirstschool.

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