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“Believe to Blossom”: 12 Tips from the 26th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference

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Over 2,000 women yesterday flocked to the 26th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference, hosted by the Women’s Business Development Center. Many were business owners; others just starting to take the plunge. With the presence of big names like Christie Hefner, Laura Ricketts and Lisa Price, the conference was about more than just business: it encouraged us women to dig deep, seek out our inspiration and take control of our lives, whatever our passion is.

Go Girl was there, dropping a whole bunch of “A Go Girl Was Here” stickers and meeting amazing women making a difference in Chicago and beyond. Here are 12 tips provided by various speakers throughout the day. They’re meant to encourage women to be entrepreneurial, but we think they can pretty much apply to anyone:

  1. Do what you hate. Richelle Shaw, the only female African American public utility owner in the USA, encouraged women to “do what makes you throw up in your business. That’s what’s holding you back!” Understand what you’re not good at; what you enjoy doing the least. And do it!
  2. Be kind to failure. Shaw says that “how you deal with failure determines how you deal with success.” Don’t back down at the slight hint of difficulty.
  3. Make sure the right people are on the job. “Hire slow, fire quick,” says Michelle Vondrasek, Founder and President of Von Technologies.  Don’t be afraid of cutting the cord on someone who’s just not doing the job right. Be purposeful and know what you want.
  4. Reward yourself. Burnout is inevitable if you don’t give yourself a break. “We have to reward ourselves in the moment as well,” Vondrasek says. Keep yourself happy, and those who work with you will be happy, too.
  5. Seek out good partners. Partner with organizations that provide complementary services, says Christie Hefner, former CEO of Playboy Enterprises and Executive Chairman of Canyon Ranch Enterprises. Find people that can offer you a new network and new opportunities.
  6. Branch out. “Don’t just go deep, go broad…you can never know too many smart people,” Hefner says. Building a good foundation is about expanding your network, and having people to call when you need a hand.
  7. Go with your gut. Don’t be afraid to ignore advice you don’t agree with, says Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts. Stick with your inclinations.
  8. Ask for help. “There are a lot of people out there who can and will help you,” said Lynn Sutton, President of Kairos Consulting Worldwide. People are more willing to help than you think. Just ask.
  9. Follow up. When you meet someone, follow up with them, Sutton says. Don’t leave your business cards to gather dust. Use them. Vondrasek suggests using a descriptive subject line in your follow-up email to be sure that the recipient remembers you.
  10. Don’t fear math. “Don’t be afraid of math,” says Meg Herman of the Women’s Business Development Center. “The financials are just your story – in numbers.” Once you realize that, talking about your business and getting through the accounting is much easier.
  11.  Love your lawyer. “Get a good lawyer,” said Teresa Ging of Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique. It’s about having strong, knowledgeable people by your side, and knowing that they can help you when you need it.
  12. Grow. “Believe to Blossom” is the motto for Lisa Price, Founder and CEO of Carol’s Daughter. Don’t be afraid of adapting and changing – your business plan, your approach, your perspective. It’s good for your business, and for you.

Looking for more business guidance? Check out the Women’s Business Development Center’s course offerings for start-ups.

Beth Santos
Founder and CEO of Wanderful, creator of the Women in Travel Summit, enthusiastic lover of ice cream, picnics and art.

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