Women in Business: Take a Deep Breath
It also brings with it a fresh set of challenges and obstacles. Not the least of these is the task of managing work-life balance. But for all women in business, it’s important to remember a few key things:
Pursue excellence. While we’re all striving for excellence in our chosen industries, are we actively seeking out resources to continue with self-improvement and the subsequent improvement of our businesses? Have you tapped into (free or low cost) customer service training or team building training from the OSU Extension offices or utilized the awesome demographic research databases available (for free!) with your library card from our local library system? There are several local resource providers here for you as you grow your business and also invest in yourself so that you can be the leader you need to be.
Take a deep breath. Sometimes we drop one of the many things we’re juggling. But take a moment to remember just how much you’re doing right- you’re positively impacting lives with your products and services, you’re creating jobs and economic growth, and you’re treating people well. If you need a reminder to take a moment to appreciate yourself, we encourage you to attend one of the stellar local networking groups focused on supporting women in business. Your chamber hosts the Edmond Women’s Network events, REI’s Women’s Business Center hosts a monthly Women’s Business Breakfast, and there are several small group settings where you can get refreshed by time spent with other strong women.
Trust the trustworthy. We’ve all heard it- people don’t want to outsource something, some small piece of their business management, because of the horror stories of others’ experiences. Take your time, speak with established local resources, and get some good leads on (several) potential helpers- social media managers, bookkeepers, attorneys, accountants, etc. You’ve got great resources in your back pocket: the Launch Pad at Francis Tuttle, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Chamber staff. Use these resources to your advantage as you build your network and grow in an intentional and strategic manner.
Support works both ways. Don’t forget to give back to other women just starting out. Those hesitant entrepreneurs who doubt they can reach beyond their current situation to actually create their dream. One of the top things we hear women say is that they feel alone when they open their own business. So reach out to those “newcomers” that can get tremendous value from hearing about your journey- and also find a sounding board to share about their own.
We’re on the right path. Women-owned businesses are growing, new ones are starting up every day in our state, and we’re leaning on each other more and more to lead our businesses in a collectively influential way. Let’s just remember to take care of ourselves, share our burdens, and reach out to those groups that are here to help us along the way.
Jennifer Edwards, Coordinator, REI’s Women’s Business Center
Jennifer Edwards has been with REI Oklahoma, a statewide non-profit economic development organization, since fall 2009. She is proud to serve as the Coordinator of the Women’s Business Center program within REI Oklahoma, where she works to support women entrepreneurs and provide resources and technical assistance to aid in their success. Believing that entrepreneurship is our state and nation’s lifeline, Jennifer spearheads efforts from REI Oklahoma’s Oklahoma City office and provides services to over 35 counties of Central and Western Oklahoma while the rest of her WBC team members cover Eastern Oklahoma. Jennifer was recently honored as the 2017 Women in Business Champion of the year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The Women’s Business Center was also honored as a 2017 Women’s Business Center of Excellence by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Complementing the WBC’s services, REI Business Lending collaborates closely with local lenders to help entrepreneurs navigate through business lending resources and programs. For minority-owned enterprises, REI Native American Business Centers offer unique training, as well as technical assistance and access to capital. REI Down Payment Assistance provides support to potential homeowners. Additionally, business space is made available through the organization’s commercial facilities program. REI Oklahoma leverages the New Markets Tax Credit program to attract new investments into Oklahoma and create needed jobs in underserved communities. Learn more about the organization at www.reiok.org. Follow REI Oklahoma on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.