In March, OPEN celebrated Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day with the special event Tools for a “Booming” Business—a forum where business owners could gain insights and advice from four successful women entrepreneurs. I spoke with small business owner Gina Bartasi, a speaker at the event, to hear how others can help grow their businesses.
Gina is the founder and CEO of FertilityAuthority.com, a Web portal that provides original content for parents struggling with fertility issues. Gina offered a few tips about how she’s grown her business, which just turned two in March. Her focus: promotion and people.
When Considering Promotion, Consider Capital
I asked Gina what advice she could share with women business owners looking for a way to stand out in their market. Her answer began with money. “Many women don’t consider capital,” Gina said. “How do you stand out? It takes money. You have to determine what method you’ll use to stand out and understand how much money it will really require. You have to be very deliberate about it.”
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When financing her own company Gina chose to “go where clients are.” Instead of financing a public relations campaign, she focuses her efforts on attending conferences and events that doctors and prospects from pharmaceutical companies attend.
She advises that when small business owners make decisions about promoting their company they focus carefully on their goals and their resources. “What’s right for your business will depend on who you need to reach, what you need to achieve, and the resources you can commit to it,” she advises.
Maximize Your Professional Relationships
Speaking with Gina about a number of topics, it became clear that professional relationships are key. Although her company has the latest Web technology at its core—it's ultimately a tool. Much of Gina’s success lies in relying primarily on the people around her.
Gina drew this distinction between technology and people when discussing recruiting. “It depends on what position we’re hiring for, of course,” she explained, “but we often use LinkedIn, Craigslist, Monster, and several job boards. But before that, we’ll ask our peer group and our advisory board. We really do prefer to hire based on recommendations. We’ll also use our connections in the field to find the brightest and the best.”
She also explained that she doesn’t hesitate to call on shareholders or her circle of professional contacts when she’s looking for input on a number of subjects. She considers this advice “absolutely critical” to her business.
“I always consult other advisors when I have an important decision,” Gina noted. “And although I’ve learned a lot from corporate advisors, some of the most valuable advice has come from people who have begun a startup and scaled it, and then successfully exited the startup.” For Gina, the key is to look for very specific expertise. She not only speaks to other entrepreneurs, but she specifically seeks out those who have had success in running businesses with goals similar to those of her own business.
If you’d like to hear more from other business owners about how they grow their businesses, check out the most recent featured videos on our Women’s Business Initiative page.