In planning the American Express OPEN Women’s Business Summit, we wanted to provide a unique opportunity for women business owners to meet and learn from both experts and each other. Working with our lead partner like Count Me In and SCORE, as well as with Women Impacting Public Policy, National Association for Women Business Owners, Women President’s Organization, and Women’s Leadership Exchange – the result was an event that offered the more than 400 attendees the opportunity for networking, individual coaching, and valuable information sessions.
The theme of the event was “The New Rules for Doing Business.” From the exchange of stories and ideas, it was evident that entrepreneurs are writing new rules for business, starting with how connecting and working together can lead to success. As Sandra Yancey, CEO of eWomenNetwork, said at the event: “The most important thing about succeeding in business is relationships.” And the women business owners at the Summit seemed to already know that.
Presentations included the new rules for financing, managing, and marketing. More complete information can found in the insight guides (Marketing, Management & Finance), but the following offers some of the tips discussed.
- Use social media to engage in two-way conversations with your customers.
- Go where your customers are, establishing a brand presence on the social media sites and applications your customers use.
- Instead of launching marketing campaigns in waves, create a constant “drip”, making it part of your daily routine.
- Let your customers know that you’re listening, sharing how their input has influenced any changes to products or service.
- Focus on cash flow and maintain a cash reserve to provide help through slowdowns (or growth opportunities).
- Use new software tools whenever possible to help automate and increase accuracy and timeline in your invoicing, collections, and other financial management tasks.
- Make it easier for you customer to pay by accepting their preferred payment method.
- For longer projects, discuss payment terms up front to avoid problems later, and consider invoicing at stages of completion.
- Evaluate customers and be willing to walk away from risky ones.
- Set the example you want your employees to follow.
- Focus team efforts on those projects that will most likely achieve company goals.
- Maintain transparency, communicating important information with the team on a regular basis.
- Build teams around personalities, strengths, and weaknesses to ensure support rather than conflict.
- Customize rewards accordingly to individuals’ motivators.
Attendees had the opportunity to participate in SCORE Speed Coaching sessions with experienced entrepreneurs. (The 45 SCORE counselors at the event represented over 1,000 years of business experience to tap into.) They also had the opportunity to pitch their businesses to win one of ten spots in Count Me In’s Make Mine a Million $ Business program, which offers substantial consulting and promotional value.
The ten women who won spots in the program are Camille Landry of ePest Solutions Inc., Dawn Gluskin of SolTec Electronics, Patricia Bonilla of Lunacon Construction Group, Jane Regan of HB Building & Design, Bonnie Steen of Roots Only Inc., Lisa Morris of Road Concierge Inc., Jillian White of White Picket Fence Appraisals Inc., Nancy Dill of QuiltWoman.com, Linda Scully of Aero Safety Training Ltd., and Lisa Whiting of Whopping BIG Prints. Last year’s national Make Mine a Million $ Business winner, Sarah Stevens, was on hand at the Summit to receive her prize of $100,000. Sarah’s Internet security firm Stevens Technologies jumped 131% to $1.5 million in revenue last year. Congratulations to them all.
Among other highlights from the event were Trish McEvoy – founder of the $80 million company, Trish McEvoy Beauty – who talked about building a successful company and brand. And our keynote speaker was Gail Blanke, President and CEO of Lifedesigns, who shared her experiences as renowned executive and life coach who has worked with presidential candidates and Fortune 500 CEOs.
I thank Trish, Gail, and all of our speakers, partners, and attendees for making this such an inspiring event.
Sophia Lundberg, Vice President for American Express OPEN, hosted the American Express OPEN Women’s Business Summit, held February 17-18th in Houston. As part of our ongoing commitment to support women business owners, American Express OPEN is producing an online resource center with information to help women business owners grow and manage their businesses.
Visit OPENForum.com/women for our “New Rules for Business” Guides and additional insights from the Summit.
You can learn more about our partners by visiting their Web sites: Count Me In, Women Impacting Public Policy, SCORE, National Association for Women Business Owners, Women President’s Organization, and Women’s Leadership Exchange.