March is Women’s History Month and I received an invitation to attend an event called “Empowering Women Entrepreneurs.” A friend of mine was one of the speakers so I left my computer for a bit to go out and listen in. When you work mainly online, it’s nice to interact with other humans and especially with an inspiring group of women.
The event took place at the VEDC (Valley Economic Development Center) in Sherman Oaks and was hosted by Travelers Insurance, a company that provides insurance for small businesses. The VEDC is a non-profit organization in Los Angeles that helps small businesses grow and receive capital. They have a business center dedicated to women entrepreneurs, where they hold seminars, mentoring sessions, and workshops.
Women Entrepreneurs are opening more businesses than men
The surge in women opening new businesses may be a result of having better organization skills than men, an eye for detail, and compassion. Women over 50 are a large part of this surge because they are looking for ways to supplement their retirement income. Some have been laid off from corporate jobs or have experienced financial hardships as widows or divorcees. The fact that women tend to live longer than men is an incentive to develop business savvy and additional streams of income in later life.
Older women also work as mentors to help their younger counterparts succeed. Three of the women who spoke at the event are Presidents of their respective Chambers of Commerce. The moderator, Celeste Young-Ramos, spent 30 years working her way up the ladder at Denny’s Restaurant chain starting as a waitress and eventually moving up to a corporate trainer and executive. She is now CEO and Founder of the Restaurant Success Center to help new restaurants become successful in the Los Angeles area.
The questions asked of the panel had to do with leadership and entrepreneurship so I took plenty of notes.
What makes an impactful leader?
A leader . . .
- inspires the people around them to do their best.
- listens when interacting with clients, employees, and vendors.
- is willing to do what they ask of others.
- gives encouragement and motivation to inspire their team to work together as a unit.
- takes time to develop a second in command to take over if they decide to retire or cannot fulfill their duties.
How do you grow into a strong leader?
- Encourage people to speak up, try new ideas and make decisions. Let them succeed and fail to become stronger.
Do you have to be charismatic to be influential?
- No, but you need to be approachable, smile and ask the people you work with and do business with about themselves. They need to believe you are hearing them.
What inspires you?
- Meeting people at the level you want to be and understanding the struggles and hurdles they have been through and bounced over.
- People who succeed and do good for the world.
- Never be the tail. Be the head.
What skills are you still missing?
- Keeping up with technology.
How do you determine success?
- Success means different things to different people and changes during the course of your lifetime.
- Success is happiness, flexibility, and family.
What do you do when you feel stuck?
- Fear is a good motivation. Having to pay your bills is a strong incentive to succeed.
- You also must have a thirst. If you have a passion for something it will give you the drive to move forward.
- If someone tells you that you can’t do something, prove them wrong.
Resources for women entrepreneurs – Be willing to keep learning
SCORE – An organization that offers step by step help to get your small business started and operational.
Read:Never Eat Alone Rocket Fuel
Be willing to network to meet potential clients and vendors. Your local Chamber of Commerce is there to help you but you should also show them what you can offer in return.
Insurance for your business
The rest of the afternoon was spent learning about the importance of having business insurance. If you are running a business of any type, there are multiple ways you can be liable if something goes wrong. Travelers Insurance has resources on its website that are free to look at. Please note, this is not a pitch for their services and I have no relationship to them. However, I recommend you visit their website and contact a representative if you have a small business that may require insurance, including cyber hacking.