Sometimes your passion comes like a thunderbolt out of the sky, a true awakening, that you have to pursue in that moment, but other times it’s a slow evolution, a path you discover when you least expect it.
For me, my passion to empower, support and mentor women entrepreneurs was the latter kind, a slow evolution when I least expected it. I first dipped my toes into entrepreneurship unexpectedly. My husband was the entrepreneur, running a 24/7 coffee shop in a community about an hour from our house. I was a corporate marketing manager, in the world of welding equipment manufacturing.
Cancer descended on our family, taking my husband way too soon, leaving me with his business, a home and properties to manage and two young adults who were in shock at losing their father. My son was in his final year of university and just about to write his final exams when this tragedy struck.
Owning a retail coffee shop was definitely NOT my passion. Anyone in the retail trade knows that to make a profit you have to be relentless at watching all aspects of your business; inventory control, staff scheduling, food costs, food waste, repairs to equipment and keeping an eye on changing trends.
Over the next three years, I continued my corporate job, while at the same time, looking for a new owner. The manager of the coffee shop expressed an interest in buying the business and therefore my role was to ensure that she had the training and expertise in converting from a manager to an owner. This was my first experience at mentoring. I really enjoyed this opportunity to share my knowledge, knowing that it would benefit her once she bought the business and shorten her learning curve.
After the coffee shop business was sold, I continued on with my corporate job, taking on new and different responsibilities until finally retiring in 2012 as the head of the Canadian division of the global welding manufacturer. I had thoughts of running a small business consulting practice after leaving the corporate world and this is where I started out, founding XL Consulting Group. It wasn’t my intent to work mostly with women. In my business career I worked mostly with men and naturally thought that’s where my focus would be.
Two important events changed the course of my business and my life. One was becoming a Futurpreneur business mentor, helping young business women during the startup phase and the second was watching Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk entitled: “Why we have too few women leaders.” She struck a cord when she said “…in my generation, there will not be 50 percent of [women] at the top of any industry.”
Reflecting on how women are still perceived in the world of business, it’s no wonder that more and more women are looking at entrepreneurship as a way of achieving business success. They can choose their own destiny, purpose and direction. We all know, however, that successful and sustainable entrepreneurship is the hardest vocation of all. It’s hard to be heard, hard to raise capital, hard to be taken seriously, hard to stay the course and much more.
My passion was born out of the idea that women entrepreneurs still need a lot of help. Help with self-confidence, help getting organized, help getting out of their comfort zone, help prioritizing family life and business, just to name a few.
Out of this passion came “Fabulous Fempreneurship”. This organization is still in its infancy and evolving, but it is my baby and it is growing into a multi-faceted platform. I first found 30 business women who like me, wanted to educate women in entrepreneurship. Their stories and advice I combined with my own and were the catalyst for my book “Fabulous Fempreneurship”, Your Complete Business Startup Guide. This isn’t written in business school language, it’s put together for every woman, wherever they live in the world, as the starting point for getting over the fear and launching their first business, step by step.
Next, I thought about how I could combine this book with mentoring more than just a few women at a time. Facebook seemed the natural online platform to reach women. Why not a safe place for women to meet to exchange ideas, technology, mentor each other etc.? A facebook group seemed like the safe space for women to talk about all aspects of entrepreneurship. This Fabulous Fempreneurship group has now over 600 members from all over the world. Every day we post around a set Monday to Friday schedule. Some days it is quiet and other days there is a lot of conversation. I don’t worry about the days you can hear crickets, because another day we might help a woman entrepreneur with a question that she has been afraid to ask somewhere else. There are always women reading the posts in the group who may never offer a comment, but that’s okay too.
What is rewarding is when I hear comments such as “you have no idea how you help me every day”, or “I refer to your book all the time, and have highlighted lots of sections”. That’s what fuels my passion, knowing my small efforts are making a difference in the lives of women entrepreneurs, taking away the isolation and forming a supportive tribe.
I’m paying it forward and my passion is unstoppable, even though I should just call it a day, hang up my shingle and enjoy retirement. What’s coming next? A second book, and online courses. Currently we are now conducting research for a follow-up book to include contributions by successful women entrepreneurs. I am looking for women outside of North America who have founded and grown their businesses to revenues of $200K to over $1M+ who are willing to share their expertise. Following are suggested topics, but any topic you feel comfortable with would be of benefit.
- Your Story
- Your Social Responsibility Actions
- Team Building
- How You Built a Profitable Organization
- Sustainable Systems for Growth
- Sales, Marketing and Product Growth Strategies
- Funding and Financing Growth
- Succession Planning and Exit Strategy
- How Social Media has helped grow your business
If women have a sustainable, profitable business, they will have more opportunities to pay it forward and help women, worldwide, through organizations such as WomenUp.
Wouldn’t it be exciting if globally your contribution and leadership could double or triple the number of existing sustainable businesses? If you are willing to help, I am looking forward to reading and sharing your business success strategies. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Our research deadline is March 31, 2017. What would you get out of this? If your contribution is selected, you will receive a free copy of the book, authorization to use it for your own publicity purposes and the opportunity to purchase it at wholesale pricing to distribute at your own events.
I’m turning my passion into empowerment for women entrepreneurs, where is your passion leading you?