Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Colleen DeBaise And Lydia Fisher Speak To Women Business Owners In Philadelphia

Posted by Amanda Walsh

Yesterday I had the pleasure of going to a National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) meeting in Philadelphia. Although I’m not a women business owner myself, I work for one and am fortunate to learn more everyday about how the business is run.

Colleen DeBaise, small business editor for the Wall Street Journal spoke to the group and shared her five secrets of success. As the author of the book, The Wall Street Journal Complete Small Business Guidebook, DeBaise interviewed many small business owners and gleaned years of experience and knowledge from them.

Here are my takeaways from her tips and some of her anecdotes:

* Take time to work ON the business – DeBaise emphasized the importance of taking time away from your daily workload to focus on your target audiences, where to budget and reassess your business goals. Sometimes owners become overwhelmed or stressed out about the business which can take away from reasons why the business was created in the first place.

* Write a strategic business plan – She encouraged those just starting out to have a concrete business plan. It can be used as a resume when looking for investors or lenders, and also help you to organize your objectives and give a clear direction for your business.

* Understand your business finances – A costume designer was faced the tough decision of closing her business or filing for bankruptcy. The owner had been so focused on the creative side of the business that she had neglected the financial side. After taking classes and talking to colleagues about anything and everything having to do with finance, she pulled the business out of the red zone and grew it immensely. The lesson is “know what you don’t know.”

* Don’t worry about competition – High-end fashion bag designer, Kate Spade, used to get so upset when copycat handbags were sold on the street. She decided to stop driving herself crazy and to focus on what she does best – designing high-quality products.

* Always be networking – The struggles of a small business owner just starting out can feel lonely. Through networking and making connections, one can listen and relate to others’ similar experiences and maybe even offer advice or tips to handle any business hurdle.

Later, author of Cinderella of Wall Street, Lydia Fisher, spoke to the NAWBO audience about “Making an Imperfect World Less Imperfect” and fostering values-based leadership and business practices to build sustainable business into the future. According to her LinkedIn profile, Fisher knows from “firsthand experience within the financial industry that sound ethics are the essential ingredients for economic and business sustainability.” She highlighted the importance of integrity and respecting one another through the Golden Rule when conducting business.

The event gave those who own or work for a small business a better idea of how to run their company more efficiently today and into the future.

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