The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses report estimates that there are 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States and that firms owned by women of color account for one in three; 32 percent. It also estimates that women-owned businesses in the US generate more than $1.4 trillion in revenues and employ nearly 7.9 million people.
In their quest to assist regional female business owners’ power their dreams and add to the above mentioned statistics, the National Association of Women Business Owners Greater Pittsburgh Chapter continues to educate and empower women. They recently held their Seventh Annual Think Ginormous conference in which more than 100 were in attendance.
“In today’s challenging economic environment it is necessary for women entrepreneurs to be Healthy, Wealthy and Wise in Business,” emphasized chapter president Donna M. Baxter pointing out the conference and chapter’s theme. “With our last year’s rally call of “Think Ginormous” reverberating throughout the year with our membership, consisting of businesses in all stages of existence and sizes we felt it was important to continue our thinking trend. The results of our theme indicate that some of our members’ businesses have grown and we have gained new members through startups.”
Baxter, referring to the report commissioned by American Express OPEN says that even though women-owned firms continues to grow at a rate exceeding the national average, her concern is that the firms only employ six percent of the nation’s workforce and contribute under four percent of business revenues. Quoting the report she said, “I concur that the real issue is not getting more women to start business, but rather providing support to women who are already in business to enable them to grow their enterprises to the next level. That’s why our conference is so important.”
Their November confab activities included workshops and vendors reflecting the event theme and the luncheon presentation by, The Plumber’s Wife turned Business Makeover Expert and author Ellen Rohr. Using her life experiences as an example, the funny and energetic speaker focused on the basics of operating a business. She identified her mission as helping one find freedom—financial freedom, lifestyle freedom—in a functional, profitable business.
“Your small business is no small thing; it does not matter if it is one person or 5,000 people you have to make things happen,” said Rohr. An entrepreneur since the mid 1990’s, she reminded the audience that it is important to have a vision, to know your purpose and not to worry about making mistakes.
Addressing a common concern and issue of entrepreneurs in all stages of business, Rohr laughingly said when she was told at the beginning stages of her business career to always charge more than things cost a light bulb went off.
Throughout her presentation she focused on pricing, maintaining a handle on financial reports and having a plan.
Rohr assisted her husband in his plumbing business, started a venture capital and consulting company called Bare Bones Biz and credits herself in helping launch a plumbing franchise in 47 locations and to $40 million in sales in under two years. She currently is the president of Zoom Drain and Sewer, LLC, a franchise company she launched this summer. She is a columnist for the Huffington Post, PHC News, and a contributor to many business journals and trade magazines and has authored four business basics books.
Pleased with the results of the conference, Baxter entering her second year as president of the fifth oldest NAWBO chapter in the country says she remains excited about the future of the Pittsburgh chapter.
“We continue to strive to take this organization to a higher level by working to develop new strategies. We plan to continue to extend our arms to embrace and support businesses from all communities and to create quality programming for women business owners.” She emphasized that their mission is to strengthen the wealth creating capacity of its members and to promote economic development, to create innovative and effective changes in the business culture, to build strategic alliances, coalitions and affiliations and to transform public policy and influence opinion makers.
Based in Washington, DC, NAWBO is stated as being the largest dues paying organization for women entrepreneurs. Its mission is to propel women entrepreneurs into economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide by; strengthening the wealth creating capacity of its members and promoting economic development within the entrepreneurial community, creating innovative and effective change in the business culture, building strategic alliances, coalitions and affiliations and transforming public policy and influencing opinion makers.
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