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Reflecting on HKA’s Women’s History Month Project

By: Alesha Henley

By: Catherine Kruse, Client Service Manager at HKA

To celebrate Women’s History Month in March, I had the honor of interviewing a number of HKA’s clients who are women business owners. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, “more than 11.6 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 9 million people, and generating $1.7 trillion in sales as of 2017” and “Women-owned firms (51% or more) account for 39% of all privately held firms and contribute 8% of employment and 4.2% of revenues” (Source: Business Women Magazine states that “women-owned businesses in the United States continue to grow at a faster rate than any other demographic. Not only that, women-owned businesses are generating more revenue, hiring more employees, and contributing more to the national economy” (Source: HKA has a number of very different, very successful women businesses that we have the pleasure of working with every day, and I set out on a mission to find out how they decided to start their own businesses and what they look forward to every day.

I learned so much from our clients and truly enjoyed absorbing the stories of their businesses. Some clients came from corporate environments, harnessed their knowledge, and started out on their own, while others have always been involved in their small family businesses and have evolved with their industries. Margie Lamore of Red Lamore Auto Body manages their body shop, which was started by a woman and has now spanned at least four generations of family members through the years. She credits the success of the business to their dedication and loyalty to clients. Christine Cipolla of RFG Advisory grew her business out of a desire to understand more about money, which fueled her passion to assist others in the same way. She sees women in financial advising as “educating, problem-solving, coaching, caring, relationship-building” and more. Finally, Koby Staley of Aiming Higher started her home care business after witnessing the need for stable and safe homes in her community. She now operates three homes, employing 35 staff members. Each business owner had an inspiring story that I felt honored to hear and learn about. I truly appreciated the time that they took to speak with me and have compiled the information that I found to be inspiring.

Tip #1: Embrace the uncomfortable and step outside of your comfort zone

Kerry and Beth from BK recommended this and reflected that their desire to do more and go independent from the careers they had already embarked on was scary, but offered so much more of a reward. “If you can work hard and get uncomfortable and do hard things, you will be very successful and happy.” I think that this is a sentiment that is easy to read about, but much more difficult to actualize, especially in a Covid business environment that is still trying to get back on its feet. It was very refreshing to hear this enthusiastically expressed by Beth and Kerry, especially given what they have done with their own company and the success that they have found.

Tip #2: Trust that you have what you need to be successful

Tiffany Slater of HR Tailormade Solutions gave me this advice, along with the sentiment that it is ok not to know everything, but the importance of trusting yourself and your instincts is everything. It takes a lot of courage to start a business from scratch, and the next step is trusting that you really do have what it takes. Tiffany added that a key component of this is being ready to be disagreed with and that not everyone needs to be on the same page every time. What you can hold onto, though, is that your business is yours and that “nobody can tell you what God put on your heart.”

Tip #3: Ask for help early and often

Multiple business owners offered this up as a lesson learned and offered the solution: hire experts that can support your business endeavors and allow you to do what you do best. Starting a new business often involves balancing a strict budget and starting from scratch in multiple ways. It can be intimidating to try and figure out the best bookkeeping software, legal advice, social media counsel, etc. Finding the consultants who will work with you on your journey, giving you more time to focus on the business, is key. Janice Person of Grounded Communications also suggested that using the contacts you have is a great way to get started connecting with experts. Reaching out can often involve giving up control or spending money that you don’t always have, but will be worth it in the end.

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