Over the past several months, many business owners have shared stories on managing and growing their businesses, on being more resilient. Recently, I spoke with two entrepreneurs who have started not a business, but a community. Gail Wallace and Willow Townsend have created 2 Women Entrepreneurs, an online community designed to help women “connect online and reinvent themselves as successful business owners.”
“Starting a new business can be intimidating for anyone,” Gail told me, “but I really feel for those women who are starting their businesses after divorces or because they’re trying to bring in income after their husbands have been laid off. They’re not just starting new ventures, they’re taking on new roles. They’re trying to convince banks and vendors that they can be successful, while trying to convince their families, as well.”
Gail and Willow came to this idea from their own entrepreneurial experiences: Gail founded Bellwind Consultants, a consulting and business plan services company, more than 20 years ago; Willow is the founder of PartsWench, a website and graphics design firm. They met when Gail hired Willow to help her with her own web site. “Within 5 minutes, we stopped talking about web sites and started talking about women business owners.”
“We knew that when we started our own businesses, we didn’t have nearly the resources you have today, like the SBA or certain networking associations,” Willow said. “But even now, we couldn’t find anything that really catered to women who are starting up and starting over.” 2 Women Entrepreneurs offers newsletters, articles, and forums covering a broad range of topics, from starting and running a business, to what education or licenses are needed, to handling leases or insurance.
Many of the 200+ members who have joined 2WomenEntrepreneurs in the past few months since they launched “were intimidated by other organizations and Web sites that speak to a great level of sophistication. That’s why we wanted ours to be more accessible.” What they want to convey to new business owners is that:
· “It’s okay to fail. While it’s true that so many businesses fail after 5 years, this shouldn’t make you fearful. Many well-known entrepreneurs have failed in their first or even second ventures before finding success.
· “You can accomplish things if you choose to. I know it’s cliché to say that, but I really don’t think it can be said enough. I’ve met too many business owners who have given up because this or that factor they believed was outside of their control. But the truth is, nothing is outside of your control.”
As part of our commitment to supporting women business owners, American Express OPEN recently hosted the Women’s Business Summit in Houston. For expert insights from the event, including a series of “New Rules” Guides for doing business, visit OPENForum.com/women.
For more information on 2 Women Entrepreneurs, visit www.2womenentrepreneurs.com. You can also follow Gail and Willow on Twitter at @gailwz and @willow2women, respectively.