First Black Woman to Own a Tequila Brand Wins Multiple Spirit Tasting Awards
LinkedIn
Anteel Tequilla owner Nayana Ferguson standing behind counter with Tequilla bottles lined up

Anteel Tequila is a premium tequila brand created by husband and wife duo Don and Nayana Ferguson and their business partner Michael Rowoldt.

Nayana, co-founder and COO, is the very first black woman in the world to own a tequila brand, which has been receiving a significant amount of national coverage over the last few months.

Not the least of which because in March, Anteel Tequila won 3 medals at the 2020 San Francisco World’s Spirits Competition with both its Coconut Lime Blanco and Reposado receiving Silver medals and the Blanco awarded a Bronze. In August, the tequila brought Double Gold Medals home from the 2020 International SIP Awards—a blind competition judged by consumers.

Initially launched in the founder’s home state of Michigan, Anteel Tequila has been ordered by over 400 locations in under 2 years. With its success in Michigan, the team had decided to expand the brand to California and Florida in February 2020, however, Covid-19 changed those plans. The owners then shifted to an online retailer to meet the demand, and Anteel Tequila has since been purchased and shipped to 30 states across the nation.

The brand released two expressions in August 2018 in the Michigan market under the name of Teeq Tequila (Tequila of Extraordinary and Exquisite Quality), but the name changed in June to establish a deeper connection with the ideology behind the brand and the logo of the hummingbird.

The current Anteel Tequila portfolio includes Anteel Coconut Lime Blanco Tequila, which is the world’s only Coconut Lime Blanco Tequila infused with the all-natural flavorings from the coconut and lime. Released at the same time was Anteel Reposado Tequila, rested 8 months in Tennessee whiskey barrels for a premium classic Reposado with a very subtle whiskey finish. In October 2019, Anteel Tequila released the third expression in their portfolio, Anteel Blanco Tequila, being heralded by consumers as the “smoothest tequila on the planet.”

The tequila brand has been featured in many news publications including Forbes Magazine, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine, AskMen, Bar Business Magazine, Maxim, Tequila & Spirits Magazine, Yahoo News, Beverage Industry Magazine, Spirited Magazine, Crain’s Business Detroit, The Detroit News, Tasting Panel Magazine, and more.

Anteel Tequila is made from the finest Blue Weber Agave plant, using both the Highland and Lowland Agaves, which is unique to the industry. While Anteel Tequila is a proud Michigan brand, to be considered 100 percent Blue Weber Agave Tequila, everything must be produced and bottled in Mexico, and Anteel Tequila has partnered with one of the most awarded distilleries there, Destiladora del Valle de Tequila, NOM 1438.

To learn more about Anteel Tequila, visit teeqspirits.com

This Entrepreneur’s Communication Skills Helped Her Turn An Idea Into A $150M Brand
LinkedIn
sara Goldin seated with microphone in hand smiling

Kara Goldin, the founder and CEO of Hint Water, turned an idea that struck her one day at the kitchen table into a $150 million a year business.

Along the way to building a popular lifestyle brand, Goldin discovered the power of storytelling to grab attention and attract loyal customers.

“It’s really important to bring your personal story into the brand identity,” Goldin told me during a recent conversation about her new book, Undaunted. “People associate the brand with a human being and that person’s story. It adds tremendous meaning and value.”

The Hint story began in 2005 with a simple idea: to make water that tastes good.

After leaving a demanding role at AOL, Goldin felt unhealthy. She was overweight, had low energy, and developed adult acne. She had been drinking diet soda for years—8 to 10 cans a day—without giving it a second thought. One day she noticed that the soda had thirty ingredients. Goldin decided to experiment. She replaced diet coke with plain water.

“In two-and-half weeks, I had lost 24 pounds,” Goldin told me. “My skin skin cleared up and my energy returned.”

The only obstacle to continuing her new habit was the fact that she found water to be, well, boring. Goldin stumbled upon a simple solution. She sliced up fruit and dropped it into the water to improve its taste.

Goldin soon discovered that she couldn’t find unsweetened fruit-infused water in a bottle. The category didn’t exist.

In that moment, Hint was born. Goldin turned a quick and simple solution to a health problem into a product which has grown into a healthy lifestyle brand.

In September, 2010, Goldin shared her story on a CNBC program called “How I Made My Millions.”

After the program aired, Goldin was sitting near a pool when a woman approached her to ask about the water she was drinking. The woman didn’t recognize Kara from the segment, but she remembered the product and the story.

According to Goldin, storytelling is a way for startups and entrepreneurs to stand out. “Beyond the brand promise, consumers want to know who is behind the brand,” says Goldin. “Consumers really gravitate toward the story because they want to understand what they’re buying into.”

Goldin majored in communication at Arizona State University and spent part of her career working in the media and magazine industry. She instinctively understands the power of an authentic founder’s story to create a stronger connection between a product and its consumers.

In the food and beverage industry, storytelling was named the top “product trend” of 2020. One survey found that 56% of consumers globally said stories around a brand influence their purchase decision.

Stories can explain how a product is sourced, how it started, who’s behind it, and how the brand lives improves people’s lives and the communities it serves.

“One reason that Hint became so popular in Silicon Valley is the founder story….people love to connect with a brand with a real human being, especially if the person has an interesting and authentic personal narrative that directly relates to the product,” Goldin writes in her book.

Your customers don’t just buy a product; they buy into the story behind the product.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

Photo Credit: Forbes/Hint Chris Andre

Engineer with a 20 Year Career Puts Her Expertise into her Own Home Inspection Business
LinkedIn
Bell, Jennifer with Mask

Jennifer Bell’s former career took place on a global scale at times, taking her to assignments in Angola, Canada, South America, Thailand, Singapore, and Europe.

After graduating from Texas Tech with a Bachelors’s degree in mechanical engineering, Bell spent 20 years in the oil and gas industry, involved in numerous facets of offshore and plant engineering. But now the native Houstonian is applying her experience to a new sector as one of the newest franchise owners with the No. 1 home inspection company in North America, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®. Having launched operations, Bell serves homebuyers and sellers throughout the Greater Houston area. “From a career point of view, I have been involved with the inspection of equipment for more than 20 years and this was a seamless way to bridge my experiences into building science and the construction industry,” said Bell, who also holds an MBA from Colorado Tech with concentrations in finance, environment, and sustainability.

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the brand to which more than three million families have turned to for more than 25 years to be their trusted advisor when buying or selling a home. Consistently ranked for 23 years on Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise500®, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is enjoying its 8th consecutive year as No. 1 in their category on that coveted ranking. In addition, the company has 5-Star status with the VetFran program offered by the International Franchise Association for veterans.

Bell, who has been involved in a variety of industries in the Houston community and recognized with numerous awards from professional organizations, is excited about the possibilities for her new venture. “I chose Pillar To Post Home Inspectors because of its brand recognition and the ‘family-feeling vibe’ the company gives to its franchisees,” she said.

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors® 
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. There are more than 600 franchises located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The company has ranked in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise500® for 23 years in a row, the past 8 years as No.1 in Category. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchises over the next five years. For further information, please visit www.pillartopost.com. To inquire about a franchise, go to www.pillartopostfranchise.com.

Investing in Yourself: What’s your ROI?
LinkedIn
Katie Sandler sitting on sofa looking confident with hand under chin

There is a lot of discussion in the business world about a company’s return on investment (ROI) because it’s important to the overall success of the organization.

Yet people can also greatly benefit when they engage in self ROI, ensuring that they do what they can to help make improvements that will benefit them in their career and personal life. Now is a good time to take a look at what your personal ROI is to see if you are investing enough in yourself or if you could benefit from stepping up your investment.

“It’s so important that we take the time to invest in ourselves, so that we can become the best version of ourselves,” explains Katie Sandler, personal development and career coach. “Whether we have new goals we want to achieve, or we want to determine what it is that is holding us back from reaching our goals, investing in yourself is the ticket to making it happen.”

Sandler helps people get a great return on the investment they make in themselves. As a personal development and career coach, she has helped many people to achieve goals, live more mindfully, and make shifts that lead to higher life satisfaction. Investing in yourself can include obtaining personal coaching, taking classes, or learning a new skill. Each of them will help increase your ROI.

Some of the benefits of investing in yourself and improving your ROI include:

  • Making more money and reaching new goals.
  • Reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Living more mindfully and overcoming shortcomings.
  • Clarifying goals and identifying what is holding you back from obtaining them.
  • Learning how to manage time better so that you can achieve and enjoy more.
  • Helping you to make an impact and overcome the feeling of being stuck.
  • When we invest in ourselves first and foremost then our investments will pay off in other areas of our life.
  • Realizing that we are only as good as the sum of our parts, whether we look at that on a personal level or an organizational level. Our initial investments should always start with you first.

Companies turn to Sandler for impact training, which increases their ROI on their employees. Engaging in impact training helps to increase employee engagement, empower employees, provide a better workplace, reduce turnover, raise productivity, lower absenteeism rates, motivate their team, and lower team stress levels. The investment that corporations make for impact training helps to support lasting growth for the company.

“When we don’t do anything, yet we know action needs to be taken, we don’t get the results we want,” added Sandler. “When we invest in ourselves and our employees, thus increasing our ROI, we end up getting the outcome that we are looking for. Most people need to work on improving their ROI in order to live the life they want.”

Sandler helps people through one-on-one coaching, impact retreats, and corporate impact events. She has worked extensively with executive career coaching clients and in career development for women. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in mental health counseling, has a strong foundation in mindfulness-based stress reduction, and has worked in hospitals and private practices. She has also spent time as a research assistant at Johns Hopkins. She offers a variety of one-on-one coaching and corporate opportunities, as well as wellness and impact retreats.

Impact retreats offer a low-key wellness opportunity for travelers looking for a unique experience. Upcoming retreats include Reignite in Tulum, Mindfulness in Mykonos, Rewire and Renew in The French Alps, and Mindfulness & Mindset in The Hamptons. To learn more about Katie Sandler and her services, or to see the retreat schedule, visit the site: https://katiesandler.com/.

About Katie Sandler

Katie Sandler is a popular impact and private wellness coach. She offers retreats around the world, as well as private coaching and corporate impact coaching opportunities. She focuses on helping people become more successful, overcome adversity, and reach new career goals. To learn more about Katie or her services, visit the site: https://katiesandler.com/.

How Cooks Are Helping to End World Hunger
LinkedIn
woman wearing a blue apron that says Cooks Who Feed

Everyone has food waste, even if we try to be mindful about our purchases and how much we are preparing. While we may all account for a little here and there, it adds up to a lot of wasted food.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it’s estimated that 30-40 percent of our nation’s food supply is wasted. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization estimates that over 800 million people per year around the world do not have enough to eat. One organization, Cooks Who Feed, is taking on the mission of helping to feed the people who need it most.

“When I realized the facts surrounding food waste and world hunger, I felt I had to do something about it,” explains Seema Sanghavi, founder of the organization Cooks Who Feed. “We help make it easier to get involved in helping to end world hunger. One of our aprons will top the list of many gift buyers this season.”

The Cooks Who Feed organization has teamed up with well-known chefs to create a line of aprons that people can purchase. Every apron purchased provides 100 meals to those in need. The organization has addressed numerous areas of concern by working with charitable organizations around the globe that collect surplus food to provide immediate hunger relief.

The mission is helping to end world hunger, but the company is also addressing the environmental impact of food waste. The organization works with three charities that obtain food surplus and provide it to those in need. The charities they work with are Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, Second Harvest, and Zomato Feeding India. Over a third of Cooks Who Feed profits go to supporting their charity partners.

Beyond the food benefits that the apron sales provide, they also help to support underprivileged women in India. The aprons are all made in a fair-trade facility, giving the women a way to earn a living and rise above poverty so they can feed their families and help others. All of the aprons are environmentally friendly, handcrafted with natural and recycled fabrics. A lot of details have gone into each apron creating a stylish, functional and eco-friendly product that brings sustainable fashion to the kitchen.

Each of the organization’s celebrity chef ambassadors have created their own apron so their fans can purchase an apron designed by the chef. People can choose the one that suits them or the person they are gifting it to. Some of the celebrity chefs that have teamed up with Cooks Who Feed include:

  • Art Smith – Chef Art is an award-winning chef and co-owner of several restaurants, including Blue Door Kitchen & Garden, Art and Soul, and Southern Art and Bourbon Bar. He also spent 10 years being the personal chef of Oprah Winfrey. He’s known for his Southern fried chicken. Every purchase of his specially designed apron also supports Common Threads, which provides disadvantaged children free cooking and nutrition lessons.
  • Christine Cushing – An award-winning chef, Chef Christine is a judge on the hit Food Network program called Wall of Chefs, and won the 2020 Taste Award for “Best Chef” in a TV series for her food, travel documentary series called “Confucius Was a Foodie.” She also has an artisan line of tomato sauces.
  • Romain Avril – Best known for his appearance as a judge on Top Chef Canada All-Stars, Chef Romain has worked at a one and two Michelin star restaurant. He’s a star chef at such restaurants as Colborne Lane, Origin North Bar, and La Société Bistro.
  • Devan Rajkumar – After several years of high-end catering with the Food Dudes, Chef Romain moved into an executive chef role at Luxe Appliance Studio.
  • Gaggan Anand – Known for his progressive Indian cuisine, Chef Gaggan has repeatedly placed on the Restaurants of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. He earned two Michelin stars in the first edition of the Thailand Michelin guide in 2018. He opened the restaurant Gaggan Anand in Bangkok in 2019, and has been profiled in Netflix’s Chef’s Table.

“The greatest lesson in life is taught by our family, simply share our food,” added Chef Art Smith. “By being a part of this great program I’m living that lesson, because every apron purchase shares food with the world. It’s a great feeling to be a part of doing that.”

Cooks Who Feed was founded by Seema Sanghavi. She loves cooking and got the idea for the organization after visiting a nongovernmental organization in India, where women were earning a living by performing safe work. Two years later, she came across information about the food waste problem, and an idea was formed. The mission of the organization is to create a movement, providing 1 million meals per year, which would be made possible by 10,000 apron sales annually.

The Cooks Who Feed aprons come in a variety of colors and styles and start at $55, with free shipping within the U.S. In addition to the celebrity chef aprons, there are others to choose from. The aprons make great gifts for those who enjoy cooking. To get more information about the program or see the selection of aprons, visit the site: https://cookswhofeed.com/.

About Cooks Who Feed

Cooks Who Feed sells a line of fashionable aprons that have been sustainably made and help to feed the world. Working with charities that obtain surplus food, and providing it to the people who need it, the company helps people and the planet. The aprons are handcrafted, eco-friendly, and available online, for retail and for wholesale. To get more information, visit the site: https://cookswhofeed.com/.

Sources:

US Department of Agriculture. Food Waste FAQhttps://www.usda.gov/foodwaste/faqs

World Health Organization. World hunger is still not going down after three years and obesity is still growing.https://www.who.int/news/item/15-07-2019-world-hunger-is-still-not-going-down-after-three-years-and-obesity-is-still-growing-un-report.

WBC2020 RECAP: Brave Is An Unstoppable Community of Women
LinkedIn
collage of pictures featuring three diverse businesswomen

Even a pandemic can’t stop the women of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and their community of supporters.

That was clear by the turnout for NAWBO’s first-ever virtual National Women’s Business Conference (WBC) with the theme of “Brave Is…” in a year that marked the 45th anniversary of NAWBO as well as the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, which gave most women the right to vote.

As Jill Calabrese Bain, managing director, internal and corporate communications for Bank of America (WBC presenting sponsor for the eighth year), says: “Brave is all of the women who came before us and made it possible for us to be here today. Brave is all of you who are paving the way for the next generation of business owners. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine all the accomplishments that are to come in the next 45 and 100 years.”

A fireside chat followed between Eva Saha, professional emcee and moderator, and Glennon Doyle, author, activist and founder of Together Rising. It was part of six live, interactive conference days filled with keynote speakers like Glennon, breakout sessions, workshops, networking, exhibit hall, awards gala and more.

Glennon, who recently released her latest bestselling book Untamed, shared about how for a long time, she felt like a “dormant cheetah with lipstick on.” “We are hiding from each other the very thing we’re meant to share and carry,” she explains. “It’s the shame about the pain in life that takes us out of the game.”

For Glennon, who opened up about everything from her broken marriage to her struggle with abandoning herself, truth telling in her writing proved life changing. “The only way to successfully parent, partner and love is to fully emerge.”

She went on to speak about what women are being charged with right now—juggling homeschooling, crisis parenting, keeping businesses going and more. “It’s not just hard, it’s impossible,” she says. “We’re so busy asking the world what it wants from us that we don’t stop and take the time to ask ourselves what we want from the world.”

She encouraged women to use this time deliberately and intentionally to create the life they really want for themselves—and to not go back to “normal” after COVID-19.

(Pictured l-r: Dr. Yasmin Davidds, Multicultural Women Executive Leadership Foundation, Rebecca Fyffe, Landmark Pest Management; bottom: Dr. Bertrice Berry, Lecturer & Comedienne)

Another keynote featuring several leading ladies of business was equally inspiring. They discussed obstacles they overcame, failures they learned from, wins that propelled their success and what bravery means to them.

Gail Becker, founder and CEO of CAULIPOWER and 2019 NAWBO Woman Business Owner of the Year, shares, “One thing I think I did right was I wasn’t afraid to admit I didn’t know it all. Part of being a successful entrepreneur is being free to admit this and then hiring around it.”

Amanda Spann, founder of The App Accelerator, built on the concept, saying, “You’re not always qualified to do things, but sometimes you’re just called to do them. When you have new ideas and projects, they’re on your spirit for a reason. Lean into your tribe and community to make these things happen.”

Other tips from these leading ladies, who also included Usha Boddapu, CEO of ESOLVIT, and Dr. Yasmin Davidds, CEO of the Multicultural Women Executive Leadership Foundation, Women’s Institute of Negotiation, were:

  • Bet on yourself.
  • Get out of your comfort zone.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail.
  • Be curious to learn.
  • Know you are enough—and leverage that.

WBC attendees agreed this year’s event was as near in-person as you can get and left them feeling even braver. “The theme this year ‘Brave Is…’ could not better exemplify who we are as women business owners,” says Vikita Poindexter, CEO of Poindexter Consulting Group, LLC and president of NAWBO California. “However, the year 2020, this theme resonated more than we could have ever imagined.”

“To come together and support each other, laugh, cry and share our trials and tribulations in this incredible virtual world was extremely powerful,” she adds. “The conference displayed our rich history, where we are today, what our focus should be going forward and how the next generation is blazing paths as well. It allowed us to be authentic and show our strength and resilience. NAWBONation is the definition of what brave is.”

And that’s not stopping anytime soon.

Winning Women
Click here to read about the four amazing women entrepreneurs who were honored at this year’s virtual awards gala, including our 2020 Woman Business Owner of the Year.

Photo Credit: Karianne Munstedt Portrait

Rihanna Joins ‘Forbes’ List Of America’s Richest Self-Made Women
LinkedIn
Rihanna feature cover on professional women's magazine wonder woman

Forbes has unleashed its list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women and there are plenty of recognizable names.

According to the outlet, the entire ranking of trailblazers are worth a collective $90 billion and have “have started or helped expand companies that do everything from build rockets to create snowboards to make Covid-19 tests.” At the top of the ranking is roofing entrepreneur Diane Hendricks, co-founder of ABC Supply, one of the country’s largest wholesale distributors of roofing, siding and windows. She tops the list for the third year in a row with her empire, which reportedly exceeds $8 billion.

Meanwhile, Rihanna makes her first appearance on the list at the No. 33 spot, courtesy of her cross-genre ventures. In addition to her Fenty Beauty line, the pop titan also has her Savage x Fenty lingerie line, as well as her music ventures, racking up an estimated $600 million for her earnings across the board in 2019.

Among the other celebrity appearances include Kris Jenner, who nabbed her first entry at the No. 92 spot with a net worth of $190 million. Oprah Winfrey returns to this year’s ranking at the No. 9 spot with a net worth of $2.9 billion, while Kim Kardashian took the No. 24 spot with her net worth of $780 million and little sister Kylie Jenner took the No. 29 position with a net worth of $700 million. Lady Gaga and Jenniffer Lopez both snagged the No. 97 spot with their net worth of $150 million.

Continue on to 1043myfm to read the complete article.

STEM Female Founders Can Get Funding Without Giving Up Equity In Their Companies Or Need To Pay The Money Back
LinkedIn
woman in background pointing finger to digitally enhanced image floating across screen

Female founders have more options for funding than many realize. Making those options known is the next step. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) are federal grant opportunities for women who start STEM companies.

We all know that female founders don’t get their fair share of venture capital. According to the Q3 2020 PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor, startups with all female founders receive a low and declining amount:

  • VC capital: 2.6% in 2019 and 1.8% in Q1,2&3 2020

It makes it all the more critical that women know about other funding sources. For women with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) startups, grant dollars from the federal government could be an additional capital source. While the dollars available are lower ($3.6 billion in 2018) than venture capital ($135.8 billion in 2019), your chances of getting funding are nearly five times higher. Best of all, the grants are non-dilutive. That means you do not have to give up any equity in your company. Since it’s a grant, you also don’t have to pay the money back.

Currently, 11 Federal agencies participate in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and five of those agencies also participate in the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. Each agency administers its program. The agencies include the Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and National Science Foundation.

The SBIR and STTR programs mandate those federal agencies with procurement budgets of $100 million or more set aside 3.2% to fund their SBIR programs. Agencies with an R&D budget above $1 billion must also set aside 0.45% of those funds for the STTR program. The pool of money available in 2018 was $3.6 billion.

Just as getting venture capital is a complicated process, so too, is receiving SBIR/STTR grants. The application process is highly competitive. However, if the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) has anything to do with it, it will be easier for you to learn about opportunities like these and evaluate if they are a good fit for you.

NWBC is a federal advisory committee established to serve as an independent source of advice and policy recommendations for the President, the US Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) on issues of importance to women business owners and entrepreneurs.

The Council recently released America’s Seed Fund: Women’s Inclusion in Small Business Innovation and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs. The report is the first comprehensive analysis of women’s participation in the SBIR/STTR programs as business owners or principal investigators.

“The idea to do this research came out of our annual meeting in 2019,” said Monica Stynchula, chair, NWBC’s Women in STEM subcommittee, and REUNIONCare CEO and founder. An official from the Patent and Trademark Office had a deck of cards with female trailblazers and their different inventions. “We had never seen anything like this. The committee recommended that the Council do a study to find out exactly how many women are accessing the SBIR/STTR opportunities.”

The total number of women-owned small businesses (WOSB) SBIR/STTR Awards decreased to 13% in 2018, down from 14.4 in 2013. Even though the number decreases, the percentage is higher than venture capital (2.7% in 2019 and 2.2% in Q1&2 2020). The Department of Education (29.5%), followed by the Department of Transportation (22.7%) and the National Science Foundation (17.6%), gave out the highest percentage of awards. The Department of Defense ($1.75 billion), followed by the Department of Health and Human Service ($1.08 billion) and Department of Energy ($280 million) have the largest budgets.

To increase the representation of women-owned businesses in the SBIR/STTR programs, NWBC is recommending that:

  • The SBA ensures streamlined and more consistent data collection and reporting on women’s inclusion in these programs. “Data needs to be collected on an annual basis and provide more granular information,” said Stynchula. For example, currently, male/female teams aren’t tracked. It is well documented that diversity leads to greater success.
  • Congress should ensure the agencies have enough resources to do outreach to women and other economically disadvantaged groups. “Some agencies do a better job than others,” said Liz Sara, chairmen of the board at NWBC and founder and president at Best Marketing. “There no one size fits all, but, by sharing successes, each agency can develop a program that works for them and female founders,” said Stynchula. “Finding a champion in an agency is critical to success.”
  • The definition of ‘women-owned business’ should be expanded to allow women and minority-owned firms to accept VC and equity investments. Many of these firms have angel and venture capital investors. I’ll add that because the most successful companies have diverse teams that include both men and women, diversity needs to be considered.
  • Participating agencies should offer the opportunity to do an initial pitch to determine if the company’s idea is a fit for the program. “The process to do these applications takes a significant amount of time and research to do,” said Sara. “If there were a quick pitch phase, it would eliminate women-owned businesses that are outside the scope.”

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

SBA Helps Woman-Owned Business Receive $140 Million in Federal Contracts
LinkedIn
Necole seated on office desk smiling

Each year, companies graduate from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Business Development 8(a) Program, with the potential and capabilities to grow into successful businesses.

SBA’s 8(a) Program helps firms develop and grow through one-on-one counseling, training workshops, management and technical guidance. It also provides access to government contracting opportunities, allowing the companies to become solid competitors in the federal marketplace. In fiscal year 2018, small businesses received more than $17.6 billion in 8(a) contract dollars.

Enter The ELOCEN Group, which is the first name spelled backwards of the owner, Necole Parker Green, who started the company in her parent’s basement in 2006. The ELOCEN Group is a woman- and minority-owned construction company specializing in construction, consulting and design services for federal and commercial clients.

One of the biggest challenges for Necole was gaining equal respect and access to the same opportunities as her male counterparts in the construction industry. Necole entered the SBA’s 8(a) Program in 2009. While in the program, Necole said, “We’ve been able to regularly exceed targeted goals, consistently increase staffing year over year, and leverage relationships established throughout our engagement with SBA.”

The SBA certifies socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses under its nine-year 8(a) Business Development Program. Individuals who are members of certain minority groups are presumed socially disadvantaged. These groups include African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans and Subcontinent Asian Americans. Firms owned by Alaska Native Corporations, Indian Tribes, Native Hawaiian Organizations, and Community Development Corporations are also eligible to participate in the program.

Necole has since graduated from the 8(a) Program and believes it was instrumental to her growth. The proof is in the pudding. The ELOCEN Group has received more than $140 million in federal contracts throughout its tenure in the 8(a) Program.

Necole has now established a joint venture agreement with the SBA’s All Small Mentor-Protégé Program and has partnered with large prime contractors on other federal contracts. In 2015, the SBA named The ELOCEN Group DC’s Small Business Person of the Year.

Necole has been an American Express Summit for Success ambassador at their annual events, providing business insight to entrepreneurs on becoming a trusted government contractor, growing to scale and successfully navigating the complexities of working with large firms.

Today, The ELOCEN Group’s core values continue to include operating with uncompromising integrity, showing a commitment to building synergistic “win-win” relationships, offering unparalleled excellence in service through partner collaborations, and melding growth opportunities into demonstrated best practices.

Small businesses interested in the 8(a) Program should contact their local SBA district office to attend an informational session.

More information and an online 8(a) application are available at: sba.gov/8abd/.

Time to be Her Own Boss While Family Operates Three Businesses
LinkedIn
Kelly Amundson sitting behind the wheel of her Pet Butler work vehicle that says We Scoop Poop

Although Kelly Amundson loved her 16-year career as an occupational therapist, she realized in 2019 that the time had come to help husband Marty manage the family farm and his lawn care businesses.

It would allow her to spend more time working towards a common goal alongside her husband and also allowed her to run and operate one of the newest, hottest franchise concepts Pet Butler with their location serving all of South Eastern Minnesota. All this and more time to spend her family in general.

“I learned so much in my career working with teenagers and young adults in the areas of mental health experience and many lessons about teamwork, dealing with whole families and working towards a common goal. It was all invaluable. And now I am using those skills to run my own business, and my husband’s lawn care businesses.”

Husband Marty has worked in lawn care for 19 years, initially starting his own lawn mowing business up years before with Kelly’s brother. The team serviced residential and commercial properties. He began moving into providing fertilization and weed control programs for these local customers and realized there was so much more to a good lawn care business than mowing lawns. When approached by top lawn care franchise Spring-Green Lawn Care, based in Plainfield, Illinois five years ago, Marty decided the time was right to add this proven concept to his already existing Green Edge Lawn Care. At one of Spring-Green’s conventions he was introduced to a new concept the parent company had acquired, Pet Butler.

Pet Butler provides pet waste removal and other pet related services to homes and multi-family communities, also offering a variety of scheduling options. The business model is also set up to add expanding services such as; pet sitting and pet shuttles. The franchise offers large, protected territories that foster scalable growth and strong recurring revenue.

Said Kelly, “Marty has been blessed with the courage to take risks, to start business’, and with the opportunity to hire good staff and delegate work. Now we get to have a hands-on opportunity to start a new business together with Pet Butler, working off of Marty’s experience, corporate’s assistance, and my willingness to take on something out of my comfort zone. This will be a chance to promote more personal growth, and an opportunity to provide jobs for more people as the business grows. This will be another business we can begin as a legacy for our family. We feel our children have a lot of great learning opportunities here at home.”

About Pet Butler

Pet Butler Franchise was acquired in 2017 by Spring-Green Enterprises, the parent company of +43 years old Spring-Green Lawn Care and SGE Marketing Services. They currently have 30 franchisees located in 25 states with long term plans to open 60 more within the next 5 years. Pet Butler provides an opportunity for pet lovers to turn their passion for pets into a business. To learn more about how Pet Butler serves pets and their people, visit www.petbutler.com and connect on Facebook and LinkedIn. To inquire about a franchise call 844-777-8608 or go to www.petbutlerfranchise.com.

 

How One Woman is Reinventing the Wedding Industry
LinkedIn
Amy Grace decorating for an outdoor wedding while looking at the camera

Amy Grace Collins loved her work through Amy Grace Events. She was doing incredible corporate events and weddings for organizations and couples at the most amazing venues in California and Michigan, with the very best in everything—food, flowers, music, photography, videography and more.

But she saw a trend that concerned her with the dream weddings she was helping California brides make a reality: They wanted $60,000 events when they could barely afford $15,000, so they were headed out of Santa Barbara to less expensive destinations, like the dessert of Palm Springs.

“My background is in finance, so I’m acutely aware that the money goes where the trends are,” said Collins, a NAWBO-Central Coast California member, who currently resides with her family in Michigan but works in California as well. “I started looking for an option to keep Santa Barbarians in their local town.”

Part of an international mastermind group of wedding planners, Collins began sharing her thoughts on calls. She learned that a fellow planner in Australia was in the process of implementing pop-up weddings. The concept was that several couples would have their wedding at the same location, on the same day, enjoying the same vendor resources—just in their 3- to 5-hour window and with a small group of friends and family in attendance.

While the concept would take some time to tweak for the American market, Collins knew she was onto something big.

“I reached out last summer to all my vendor friends saying, ‘I have this crazy idea…’ We talked about it and I ran every financial number I could,” says Collins. “There are a lot of models out there that undercut the vendors, so they only do the events on off-days.

“But couples want a Saturday or Sunday wedding for less, so we created these and started working on marketing them in February.”

Then COVID-19 hit. “There were brides booked for March and April who were stuck in contracts and out $60,000,” said Collins, adding that the biggest engagement season is between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day and brides usually start reaching out to wedding planners in the spring…and it’s been silent.

Collins’ thoughts immediately turned to the women who are part of MasterBrides—her other business, which is a free, online community for brides to learn about weddings from an industry veteran. She knew these women didn’t have tens of thousands of dollars to lose. Also, would it even possible for them to plan their weddings in the age of Coronavirus with so many unknowns from state to state, especially in California and Michigan, that tend to be among the strictest? Amy began sharing her research and expertise in blogs like, How Do I Know If I Should Cancel or Postpone My Wedding? and The Phased Strategy to Open America: What Does This Actually Mean for My Wedding? By the response she received from brides, it was clear it was time to pivot and focus on pop-up weddings. Her own industry, on the other hand, wasn’t so thrilled about what she was putting out there, but Amy felt strongly it was the right thing to do.

Today, that honest, timely communication has paid off. Amy is now offering pop-up weddings where she leverages the cost of a $60,000 wedding and distributes it three ways between couples so they can have stunning weddings for a fraction of the price. These are all-inclusive, with 90 percent of the decisions already made. She just helps each couple finalize the personalization aspects to make it their own event.

There are other advantages to this model, too. For one, it’s recommended that the guest list is small with just 40-80 people. In this time of social distancing, that’s the perfect size. Also, it’s environmentally friendly. Whereas before, thousands of dollars on everything from flowers to food would go to waste after one big event, now several couples are taking advantage of the same resources.

“I think this will completely shift the mindset of brides,” Collins says. “To see the couples’ expectations from 2002 when I first started, to 2020 is mind-blowing—it’s the same amount of money with way different expectations. This is really resetting the industry so that couples are having a wedding within their means.”

Collins is equally excited about another outcome: A focus on the ceremony more so than the party. “I have always been frustrated by the lack of reverence given to the ceremony portion of the wedding,” she explains. “To have people now see the importance of the actual ceremony and license and how it affects so much in their life, from health care to taxes to immigration. It’s so much deeper and I think we, as an industry, will be appreciated in such a different way. I look forward to that.”

Air Force Civilian Service

Air Force Civilian Service

Verizon

Verizon