by Kristen Blessman President and CEO Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce www.cwcc.org
There are a few statements I hear more often than I’d like when talking to people about the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce (CWCC). “There are too many women’s organizations in Denver. What’s the difference between all of you?” and, “You should partner more, merge and figure out who’s doing what.” While I agree we should work together to meet our market’s needs, I absolutely disagree that there are too many organizations serving women in Colorado.
The latest McKinsey and Company study shows it will take 107 years for women to catch up to where men are in the workplace. As staggering as that statistic is, this means the landscape for women in the workplace is actually getting worse! According to Catalyst, a nonprofit working to build better workplaces for women, only about 5% of CEOs in corporate America and only 26.5% of executives in the S&P 500 are women. For women of color, the numbers are even more dismal.
To top it off, in almost 10 years, the number of women in senior roles in the United States has only increased by 1%. If you ask me, there aren’t enough organizations serving women because if there were, we wouldn’t be seeing these numbers. I started to ponder … nonprofit organizations are often encouraged to partner more, but when it comes to a for-profit organization, they are encouraged to be competitive, develop the best product and let the consumer choose. The company that is the most successful at this ends up on top.
I wonder why, as nonprofits, we don’t think this way. Is it because we’re ultimately serving people and working towards a mission? I believe a competitive marketplace can lead to development of strong programming and be a pathway to innovation. Don’t get me wrong, we still need to partner because the need is so very great, especially when it comes to improving the work landscape for women. But, by introducing some aspects of the for-profit culture into our nonprofit organizations, we can serve more individuals better.
My Experience During the course of my career as the previous CMO of Goodwill and the current President and CEO of the CWCC, I’ve faced the challenge of blending a competitive business culture with cause-based culture and have learned a few lessons along the way.
Lesson 1: An organization whose ultimate goal is to create real and lasting systematic change in a community can have a competitive edge over an organization that lacks a mission of this type.
Lesson 2: In many industries, the more competition you have in a close proximity, the more successful the industry is as a whole. More choices equals more engagement.
The Takeaway While it’s true there have been many positive changes over the past 30 years for women in the workplace, the McKinsey and Company study shows that there’s still change needed. My vision is to place the CWCC at the forefront of this change. We are the place where conversations start and learning and collaboration occur.
I don’t think anyone has the secret sauce yet, but I do believe if we have the conversations, promote the education and get like-minded individuals together, we will begin to see better results. I believe the more organizations we have in our community trying to make lasting change for the advancement of women in business, government, life or any particular cause, the more we’ll chip away at the statistics for women in the workplace.
by Krystal Covington, MBA
The company sales team is the life source of the business, pumping resources into every aspect of operations. Effective sales teams provide the resources to lead a powerful enterprise, scale to reach new markets, and sustain the business for years to come, but building and sustaining a successful team is easier said than achieved. Businesses spend thousands on sales training seminars, conferences, and events with the hope that inspiring their people will result in more money in the door, but these types of programs often result in a temporary lift that doesn’t justify the cost. Woman-led SalesBQ takes a systematic approach to sales training, helping companies at the $1-10 million mark build and train their sales teams to improve long term results. To learn more about how the company was formed, we interviewed company Founder Mary Grothe about her journey and the team’s approach to sales development.
How did you discover your talent for sales? Years ago after becoming frustrated with bad part-time jobs and late hours I ran across an administrative position for a Fortune 1000 company called Paychex. At the time, I didn’t even know what sales was, but was offered a role that required me to support a sales team of eight along with the sales manager as well. That sales manager ended up being an incredible mentor, teaching me everything about sales infrastructure, process, methodology, and what a life in sales could look like. He helped me create a sales training curriculum comprised of books, classroom education, and hands-on learning by slowly taking over critical functions from the sales team members.
I led projects such as telemarketing, following up with leads, picking up paperwork for closed sales, acting as an account executive and performing many other operational tasks for the sales team. Eventually I decided to make a career change and pursue a role as a mid-market sales leader and within 30 days I became the #1 rep, bringing in millions in revenue.
Sales has a reputation for being a male-dominated field. Do you feel this is an accurate assessment, and if so how have you been able to thrive in sales as a woman? Sales is a male dominated field, however, many women are taking on sales careers now. Early on, it was difficult for me to fit in and feel like “one of the guys,” which resulted in me bending who I was and acting more like my male counterparts. It took several years for me to become secure in my own identity as a woman in a sales role.
It took even longer to have the confidence to pursue a sales leadership role. Now in my 30s, my confidence is high, and I consciously work to help inspire, motivate, and train other women in sales to excel in their careers and pursue a path to sales leadership if that’s a path they want.
What’s the #1 problem facing sales teams, and how can they overcome it? The #1 problem facing sales teams is lack of infrastructure. All teams should have a sales playbook, congruent sales approach, sales enablement tools, achievable activity plan, clearly understood expectations, and a high-accountability culture that includes coaching and training embedded in weekly job duties. To overcome this, a sales leader or executive should meet with the team and conduct a strategy planning session together where everyone has an opportunity to share and, most importantly, feel heard.
In those sessions it’s important to pull experiences from the role that work, consolidate the data into an easy playbook, and rewrite expectations for activity and quotas that the team can agree they’re willing to work to achieve. Create a buy-in culture by leveraging the knowledge and expertise from everyone in the sales department. If the sales leader is not a sales coach or trainer by trade, hire one. Embed weekly sales coaching and training into the culture. Allow each person to grow and develop new skills. Work together as a team, communicate, and grow sales.
Tell us about your team and the philosophy you use to select those who work with you. My team is extremely important to my business, so it’s imperative that I only surround myself with the best. I always believe in the concept of showing humility by hiring people who are better, faster and smarter than me. I’ll never let my ego get in the way of a great hire.
The people on my team have grit written in their DNA and the role they’re in comes naturally to them without being draining. They also have a passion for learning and take regular action to continue building their skills to be more effective in their roles. I also believe it’s my job to continue developing them, so they can achieve greater career heights. That’s what my mentor did for me, and I expect no less from myself as a leader.
Do you have a special philosophy for leading your business and serving clients? As a Christian business woman, I follow the principles laid out in the book “Business by the Book” by Larry Burkett. Our core principles are to love our team members, our clients, our competitors, our vendors, and our partners. We are to serve first. Always. We are in business to do right by others. We picked CEOs and sales reps as our “somebody.” We choose to develop them and provide profitable sales growth so they can have the business and careers of their dreams. We are here to serve. If we serve first and lead with love, we will all live a life of joy and bountiful provision.
Why do you do this work? What’s in it for you when a sales team you’ve worked with starts to see exponential growth? I do this work because I was put on this planet to do it. It comes naturally, and I seem to have nearly endless energy to run this company and lead a team of 8. I get overly excited and passionate every time I lead a sales training or meet with our CEO clients to develop their plans for growth. I am honored this life was chosen for me and I get the opportunity to help grow sales for so many front range companies.
By Joce Blake
Thanks to Christine Rector, Arvada resident and Broomfield business owner, another Colorado business remained open. She decided to celebrate her survival of breast cancer by becoming the new owner of Broomfield's Sylvan Learning. After Christine's son told her it was going to close, she knew she wanted to save it. Christine told 1851 Franchise, “My son, Chris, is a math and science tutor for Sylvan in Broomfield. He came to me distressed, telling me the Sylvan location was planning on closing and he was going to be losing his job. Over the years, I’ve grown a passion for learning and watching others grow. I couldn’t sit back and watch such a great resource close its doors.” She wanted nothing more than to continue providing the community with Sylvan’s outstanding programs.
Christine's love for helping others isn’t a new advancement. For eight years, she served as the Assistant Director of the Family Ministry at Broomfield United Methodist Church and has had a passion for early childhood education. The Colorado resident recalls, “I wanted the children to enjoy learning and discover that learning about God is FUN. It was here that I discovered a passion for helping and teaching children. I started to dress up as characters, added a puppet or two and painted backgrounds that would enhance the Bible story.” She even parlayed the passion into her own storytelling event business, CTales, LLC. Christine provides an interactive learning experience for preschoolers by creating a curriculum that is aligned with what they are already learning. She fully commits to the educational adventure of CTales as she dresses up in costume and explores different worlds with her puppets and props. The breast cancer survivor shared, “Though storytelling is my love and passion I needed to earn a living. I added a day of wedding coordinator and event coordinator to help pay the bills. Then the opportunity of taking over the Sylvan learning center in Broomfield emerged.” Christine and the Sylvan enterprise are perfectly suited for one another.
Christine said, “I am constantly inspired by the kids. You don’t realize how much of an impact you have on a child at such a young age. I’ve always had a desire to help children reach their fullest potential and to succeed in life. When volunteering at my children's schools over the years, I had always loved mentoring and spending time with children – especially those who needed a little extra attention. Owning these businesses allows me to do just that.” She also painstakingly understands what it means to have educational resources; Christine struggled with ADD and a speech impediment as a child. From attending remedial classes to speech courses, she received the support she needed to finish high school, go on to college and study accounting technology and bookkeeping.
Because of her experiences, Christine believes Broomfield is the perfect market for the Sylvan brand so much so that she self-funded 100% of the startup costs equaling $24,000. Christine told us that she projects that the revenue in the first year will be approximately $120,000. “With a good marketing plan and hard work, my goal is to expand the business in the future. Helping children attain academic success and ultimately be successful in life is, in my mind, one of the most worthwhile goals I can think of. I believe with all my heart that young children are the future of our country and education is the key,” Christine shared.
Written by Krystal Covington, MBA
Career change isn’t just for twenty-somethings. According to AARP, 40 percent of people working at age 62 had changed their careers since they turned 55. Baby boomers are the first generation to break the norm and routinely change careers after 50.
Jonna Tellinghuisen is no stranger to switching careers.
Launching her own company at just 24, she began a career offering customized accounting software during a time when corporations had begun making the switch from manual bookkeeping to automated computer software. As a legacy entrepreneur, Jonna used her skills and business savvy to eventually build a team of eight who provided accounting software training to large corporations.
After becoming a wife and mother, Jonna joined her husband as the owner and operator of a 5000+ herd, family-run dairy farm in Iowa where they managed a team of 37 employees. She took the lead on maintaining employee files, payroll, loans and anything related to accounting for the business. At 49, Jonna and her husband made the decision to retire and sell the farm.
After just 3 years in retirement, Jonna felt the itch again and was led to start a new business. With 6 daughters, finding the right business was easy.
“Our daughters always loved shopping at the different Plato’s Closet locations. Plato’s Closet is the buying and selling of name brand, gently used apparel and accessories for teens and twenty-something girls and guys. However, we were introduced to Style Encore, the sister brand at Discovery Day and we were instantly hooked.”
Jonna opened her Style Encore franchise location in Centennial Colorado and added a philanthropic mission to support Hope’s Promise, an adoption and orphan agency. Her daughters have taken on roles in store management, marketing, customer service and personal styling. Her hope is that they will one day own their own stores in the future and become successful entrepreneurs themselves.
When asked about the journey of entrepreneurship, Jonna told us, “Being self-employed is hard work and might not be the best route for everyone, but if you’re motivated and dedicated, it’s a path that can lead to great success and financial independence.”
Jonna’s Style Encore store is located at 8223 S Quebec St, Centennial, CO 80112.
by Krystal Covington
For startups, gaining the capital to scale through hiring great talent, investing in marketing, and revving up development efforts can be the difference between a 3-year stint or becoming the next Uber.
Equity funding has been instrumental in helping many great companies succeed in their growth efforts because it offers owners an influx of cash to invest in the business in exchange for ownership rather than a debt + interest relationship. This means the investors financing the business get paid only if the company does well, so they have an interest in the company's success and often play a supportive role in helping that company success.
Today, men receive about 9 times more equity funding than women do, which means they are more likely to get the cash they need to scale a business and reach a high level of financial success.
In honor of our upcoming Denver Startup Week Panel event we asked our panelists to share what they think was their #1 key to there success. Here's what they shared.
Jaclyn Fu, Co-Founder and CEO of Pepper (Currently closing her pre-seed round) - Being passionate and infectious with our mission.
Amy Baglan, CEO & Founder of MeetMindful ($8mm) - My commitment to authentic communication, no matter who I’m talking to.
Jennifer McMillen, Co-Founder of Tripcents ($550k) - Honesty - in all aspects - being honest with myself when something's not working, being honest with celebrating both the small and big wins even when others have doubts, and most of all, being honest with my co-founders and team by making transparency a priority
Investors on our panel also shared their insights on how women can start earning a greater share of the capital.
Emily Winslow, CEO of Peak Impact Consulting (Investor) - Female-founded and led companies are more capital efficient and in the long term have more success with less capital. Women tend to be more conservative than men in their “ask," seeking only as much financing as they currently need. Such restraint has pros and cons for both individual female-run businesses and for the investment ecosystem. As women continue to build good businesses for their customers and employees while achieving high returns on investment, more capital will be attracted to their ventures. Moreover, when over $30 trillion is conveyed during coming years to women and millennials in “the great wealth transfer,” our current economic system will experience a dramatic shake-up, resulting in women investors gaining the capacity to direct more capital towards female entrepreneurs.
Heather Mackenzie, SheEO U.S. Launch Team (Investor) - I think one way is networking - strategically, not just a shotgun blast approach, or throwing noodles at the wall and seeing what sticks - but truly learning about the networks they wish to enter, finding allies in them and strategically building alliances. I firmly believe we need good men in the mix to help build those bridges to the men who just don't get it - so finding male allies with strong connections into investor networks is one way, and of course I believe in the power of women too, so start looking at all the female VC networks popping up
To hear from these women in person, visit our upcoming Denver Startup Week Panel on Thursday, September 27 from 4-5 p.m. at Capital One Cafe (1550 Wewatta Street) Register online here.
By Shauna Armitage
I knew what I wanted to do from a young age. I wanted to be a teacher. I went to college right out of high school because that’s “how things were done.” And then two years into my education, I didn’t want to be a teacher anymore. So I got another degree … but no job interviews.
I wanted to work for a paycheck and have someone else worry about how that money would get into my pocket. However, when I graduated from college in 2008 and then again in 2011, the economy was down and those fancy pieces of paper I had worked so hard for—and will still be paying off 20 years from today—weren’t worth anything.
I had no job, no prospects, and a considerable amount of debt.
I became a freelancer … then a business owner
Until that point, I had never considered being a freelancer. But I felt frustrated and stuck, so I did what I could to get some experience and income. Turns out, I was really good at it.
I started out doing assistant work, keeping the execs organized. I wrote copy for blogs, landing pages, and lead magnets. I managed social media accounts and envisioned new campaigns. Over time I discovered that I was a marketer. Finding the right fit for my personal brand, however, was a square peg/round hole situation.
And that’s when I realized…. I didn’t want to be a freelancer. I wanted to handle business the way that felt most authentic and effective for me. I wanted to be a business owner.
3 things I learned as I built my business
As a high schooler, I thought everyone had 9-5s. People didn’t own businesses, corporations did! When being dumped unceremoniously into the job market after graduation, I discovered that wasn’t true. More and more people are taking this path into entrepreneurship today as they are discovering that the road they thought they had to travel is blocked—or not a desirable road to go down.
While it’s common in our culture for more and more professionals to turn to entrepreneurship, it’s not an easy thing to do. And these are the three essential lessons I took from this crazy experience:
1. Owning a business means that YOU are responsible for finding your next source of revenue, building the brand, and creating positive outcomes. Responsibility can be scary, and you will fail. Learn from it. Each failure—no matter how big or small—will shape you into the the kind of leader and business woman you want to be.
2. Regardless of whether you work for that paycheck or you work for yourself, you still need to have a deep understanding of your personal values. No matter what your business is, you’ll have to interact with other people, so communication and flexibility are important. However, there should be some things you will never compromise on. Identify what those things are, and they will become the north star that guides you in growing your company.
3. There are a lot of things you don’t know that you don’t know. How can you find solutions to problems you don’t know exist? You can’t. You’re going to make some mistakes, and that’s ok, but the best things you can give yourself as a new business owner are the gifts of knowledge, mentorship, and community.
There’s always someone who has already been where you are, and there’s always someone who is willing to support you. Find those people and learn everything you can from them! Build a community around yourself and your business that will be the foundation upon which you can build real success.
Shauna Armitage is a freelance marketing strategist, as well as founder of the Making Moxie podcast and challenges.
This article was originally published in Women of Denver magazine.
Contributed by Kristen Giovinazzo, a freelancer from California with a Masters in Public Accounting
Less than 10 years ago, there was a new area of business everyone was curious about -- cryptocurrency. It all started with Bitcoin and quickly grew into a multi-billion dollar industry.
To many of us, cryptocurrencies can appear confusing and mysterious. We hear many stories about individuals who first invested a few dollars to discover years later, they are millionaires.
But who are the individuals behind the numbers and expanding this ever-growing business? We quickly discovered, a lot of them are women!
Today, highly educated women are forming businesses and assisting others to understand more about cryptocurrencies. Who are these women? We have compiled a list of 5 incredible women making their mark in this exciting new area of business.
Monika Proffitt, Co-founder and CEO of Rise Housing
Monika Proffitt is an entrepreneur, writer and speaker with 20 years experience in community design and real estate investment. She is the founder of Rise Housing, a real estate company using blockchain technology to the address issues of equity access for tenants and liquidity for investors. She regularly speaks at conferences and universities throughout the the Americas and Europe, and has been featured in Vogue Italia and New Mexico True TV. In her spare time, she writes poetry, creates art installations, and goes on long, meandering walks through New York City, where she lives.
TIP: Make sure the company that you invest in is playing the long game by making sure their token is backed by a real asset - not just a possible idea.
Elena Shkarubo, CEO of MeetnGreetMe
Elena Shkarubo – MBA from Kingston University, member of SPARK initiative to promote entrepreneurship globally and Co-Founder and CEO of MeetnGreetMe – a marketplace where international travelers can find personal assistants/concierges among local people. In September 2017 Elena decided to apply Blockchain Technology to the platform. Adapting the blockchain technology allows MeetnGreetMe to have its own means - MeetnGreetMe crypto-token - to incentivize contributors and reward the activities connected with the platform growth and development and fuel the MeetnGreetMe ecosystem.
The blockchain enabled payment system will allow them to exclude a costly middleman from the money transfer process in the future, and make it transparent and convenient for the parties regardless their geographical location. MeetnGreetMe has already successfully completed the Pre-ICO. The ICO will start on March 27 and last till May 21.
TIP: Don’t invest more than you are ready to lose.
Maria Eagleton, Co-founder of ChargaCard
Maria Eagleton is the co-founder of ChargaCard, a Boulder, Colorado startup that has created a cryptocurrency payments app that allows people to pay for goods and services with cryptocurrency. ChargaCard has a deeper mission related to social equity: tens of millions of Americans are mired in massive credit card debt or poor credit, and ChargaCard is the first B2C platform that taps into the informal credit markets to connect customers with legal and medical services—a true win-win for companies and the consumer.
Under Maria’s leadership, ChargaCard has embraced a policy of complete salary parity between women and men in the same positions, and ensuring that at least half of its employees are women (the current industry standard in tech companies now is closer to 20% female and 80% male). And there’s a practical rationale too: men and women think about the same things differently and have different approaches to development, and Maria wants this commitment to diversity and inclusion as a core element of the company’s DNA.
TIP: Do your homework! Each day, there are dozens of new cryptocurrencies coming online. The best resource is to read each company’s white paper, and get a sense for whether a company has the infrastructure and product in place that they claim to. If a white paper feels generic or doesn’t give a clear picture of what they’re trying to do, that should raise a red flag.
Kim Jackson, SingularDTV co-founder and President of Entertainment
As the co-founder and President of Entertainment at SingularDTV, a blockchain entertainment technology company, Kim Jackson brings about change by offering artists tools to empower themselves from funding all the way to distributing to their audiences.
She is responsible for all strategy and implementation of entertainment partnerships, including original and acquired content. An accomplished film producer, Kim has been a driving force behind Sundance winner BLUE CAPRICE and more than a dozen other award-winning films.
TIP: Before you make a decision on becoming involved in any ecosystem, it’s important to investigate the promises they make about products. You need to check that there’s an engine in the car that you’re buying - that there is something going on under the hood and that they have engineers backing their products. Doing your research and homework is very important.
Grace (Rebecca) Rachmany, Founder of IwriteICOwhitepapers.com & DAOleadership.com
Grace (Rebecca) Rachmany is the founder of IwriteICOwhitepapers.com, and also of DAOleadership.com. In addition to helping companies get to ICO (Initial Coin Offering), she works with growing decentralized organizations to instill the company culture and management skills needed for success in a decentralized world.
TIP: Cryptocurrency is not an investment. It's a currency. If you didn't invest in forex before, this isn't a vehicle you should be considering as an investment today either.
Contributed by Haylee Powers
Steve Forbes editor-in-Chief of Forbes said:
“Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business”.
The biggest mistake I see entrepreneurs and startups making is that they do not know how
important branding and strategy is for the success in their business. I see a lot of confusion
about what branding is. Branding is not a logo or a marketing plan, a brand is a gut feeling,
experience and the ONE thing that makes you different from competitors. Your difference (we
call this a Unique Selling Proposition) needs to be compelling, concise and motivating.
Great brands create a quality experience and evoke an emotion in the customer. The way that
you can control the perception of your brand or product through the way you design and
strategize is mesmerizing. Brand strategist have studied neuroscience and psychology to create
a deeper understanding of how our brain works as it relates to brands we love and choose over
and over again. Design is used as a tool to create something beautiful but taken a step further
design is a tool combined with strategy to make real impact on customers and on the world.
Branding is meant to turn chaos into order and complexity into simplicity. Branding is SO
SIMPLE and that is what makes it so complex. It involves chiseling away at all the
miscellaneous information so that the exact message is you are trying to convey is obvious.
Branding yourself or your product is definitely an investment, but you know you are going to get
a return on it because your message is clear and concise.
Here a few things a brand strategy will do for your business:
1. Branding will differentiate your business from your competitors.
2. Branding will manage the perception your customers have about you.
3. Branding will build equity, brand awareness and loyalty.
4. Branding will form emotional attachment and trust.
5. Branding will highlight your unique attributes.
After you have created a solid strategy for your brand, you can then develop the Brand Identity.
Your Brand Identity will include things like your logo design, color palette, font choices,
photography, product packaging and more. The order in which you develop your brand is
important, the strategy always comes first when creating a strong brand.
Having a strong Brand will allow you to take a commodity and turn it into a brand.
Coffee, shoes and cars are all commodities. Starbucks, Nike and Mercedes Benz are brands that bring in millions. If you are serious about bringing in money, you need to be serious about your brand strategy. The truth is, customers will pay more for a brand they believe delivers outstanding service or benefits.
You are already branded… which could be detrimental.
Your design, in store experience, the copy on your website, the photos you use and more are creating a gut feeling in your customer and clients. Your customers are walking away with a gut feeling about how you present yourself, your touch points and the mission that fuels your company. Don’t lose money by letting your customer have a negative or uninspired experience with your brand. Control the perception people have of you and develop your unique selling proposition so that your business can bring in a higher income.
Haylee Powers is a Denver based designer and brand strategist working with companies as large as CBS and as small as the solopreneur next door. She founded Bad Bitch Branding in 2016 to empower women through brand strategy and design. She spends her time coaching female entrepreneurs and startups on their brand strategy as well as designing brand identities.
It was 2005 and I had about $300 in my bank account. I was in college, working a couple of part time jobs to pay the bills and I believed with all my heart that there had to be other ways to make money besides selling my time for a paycheck.
Ebay had really grown in popularity and the name was popping up all over the place. In my city there were several Ebay stores dedicated to selling and shipping goods on the platform, so people were really starting to catch on to the value of auction-based selling. I knew if there were stores popping up that there must be lots of opportunity out there to make money in a unique way.