Embrace What You Don’t Know
Those who were fortunate enough to attend the May dinner meeting came away with quickly actionable tips on what to do differently to increase the effectiveness of marketing their business.
Whether you are looking to grow your business to the next level or whether you are considering starting a business, you are in the right place. NAWBO-OC is the premier organization for women business owners in Orange County. We provide outstanding professional development and a community of successful women business owners (WBO). They have been there, done that and are delighted to share their stories, expertise, cheer you on to success and yes, even provide vital information about their experience with your product/service. While what they say may be difficult for you to hear, it is nonetheless critical for your success.
With so many business groups out there, why is important to be part of an organization that is focused on the needs of women business owners? Consider the following:
While only between 3% and 5% of women-owned businesses receive venture capital, venture-backed, women–operated companies earn about 12% higher revenues than those operated by men. Women are founding businesses a 1.5x the national average. Worldwide, 187 million women are currently starting or running a business enterprise. Between 2002 and 2007 the percentage of women-owned businesses increased by 20%, resulting in 7.8 million businesses.
So what do these statistics have to do with you and NAWBO? Well, quite frankly, the road to success can be quite bumpy and the playing field is still not level. Having a community of like- minded entrepreneurial women who “get you” is critical to staying the course and reminding you of what you set out to do.
While many join NAWBO for the professional development opportunities, others hope to network for more business and are disappointed when the referrals don’t come quickly enough. It takes time and a proven track record to build trusted relationships that earn referral business. Volunteering in ways that showcase your talents and services is one way to get your name out there. Here’s the key: as people get to know you in your volunteer role as easy to work with, dependable, timely in communications, conscious of deadlines, respectful of others’ time and producing a quality work product, they will be more likely to want to do business with you and/or refer you to others. While you are in the process of developing these trusted relationships, use the time to ask these important questions:
- How well do I communicate how my product/service aligns with what my prospect wants?
- Have I asked NAWBO-OC members who have used my service/product how I can improve their customer experience?
- Do my employees feel valued and are they good ambassadors for my business?
- What areas of my business do I want to grow?
- What new skills and/or activities do I need to make growth happen?
- Are there ways to increase profit margin without compromising on quality?
While the list of questions could go on and on, it is important to note that the occasion to address these issues is close at hand. Opportunities abound for informal market research about how to better serve your client. Many NAWBO members would be happy to provide this if only asked and if they believe that their investment of time is valued. Learning to hear and respond to difficult feedback is a skill worth developing. Our mentoring program, success teams and power partners programs provide a safe setting in which to sharpen your skills and hone your message. Monthly dinner meeting speakers and education programs on topics such as networking, marketing and selling can keep you up to date and focused. Think this list of questions applies only to emerging businesses? Think again. Jim Collins in Good to Great tells the stories of many hugely successful companies who failed to ask these questions, rested on their successful laurels, and are now extinct.
Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, is the youngest self-made woman to join the Forbes Billionaire Club. Sara says, “Embrace what you don’t know, especially in the beginning, because what you don’t know can become your greatest asset. It ensures that you will be doing things absolutely differently from everybody else.” NAWBO is a safe place to embrace what you don’t know, keep up to date and to learn from others while giving back at the same time. Now that sounds like a terrific ROI!
So once again in keeping with our theme for the year, Community, Connections, Competitive Edge: Join, engage and use the opportunity . . . is yours for the taking.
Click here for a calendar of our upcoming events and programs. I look forward to seeing you at an event soon.
Have a very successful and profitable month!
Maureen Rhyne, Ph.D.
NAWBO-OC 2011-2012 President
President, Heritage Associates, Inc.