By Julie Tingley, The KNOW Women
At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, women in business were faced with impossible decisions that ultimately resulted in more than two million leaving the workforce all together. According to the World Economic Forum, 34% of small businesses have closed permanently. Potential moves that ranged from shifting, pivoting, suspending, downsizing, or stopping only compounded the uncertainty of an unusual time for female business owners last year. Yet, the entrepreneurial spirit never wavered. At the start of 2021, there were more than 1.5 million new business applications in the United States, up 82 percent over the prior year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. LinkedIn found that the percentage of female entrepreneurs on its platform grew more than double the pre-pandemic average, based on an analysis of female members who changed their title to “founder” after March 2020. Today, the possibility of innovation, growth, expansion, hiring, and scaling feel more authentic and attainable. The resurgence of enterprise and impact is synonymous with the rise of women returning to business on their own terms, positioned as the pilot. Because after all, this ride is on a rocket ship as it is inarguable that there is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise.
SHOOT FOR THE STARS
Today’s founders are more focused on scaling their businesses— to both recover from losses last year, and get ahead of challenges that may present in the future. Because of the resources required for constant linear growth, a post-pandemic mindset to increase revenue at a faster rate bearing incremental costs should lead every 2021 business plan. Adding customers without substantial investment? It’s an achievement not only for female entrepreneurs, but also a win for the global economy.
Write your success story now. Prepare for the promise of greatness. Design your scale-up plan today. We asked three women business owners who did just this, and what it took to scale successfully.
Ginger Clayton, Elontec – “Create an offering like no other.”
As CEO and President of Elontec, a nationally recognized provider of commercial furniture, moving, and technology services, Ginger is passionate about helping others move forward. With an estimated $8M revenue for 2021, 75 employees, and a single 60,000 square foot facility and showroom in Phoenix, Arizona, Elontec will also make its e-commerce debut later this year. Ginger scaled her business through the diversification of products and services over the years to create an offering like no other. Elontec provides the major aspects of a commercial move from the voice and data cabling, audio/ visual, CCTV video surveillance system, card access, to transferring existing technology and any furniture that is to be kept. The business also offers furniture design, delivery, and installation of all components of a new set-up from private offices to the breakroom.
Since it was formed in 1997, Ginger admits that the investment for the expansion of Elontec has often depended on a lot of prayer and a little bit of OPM (other people’s money). From vendor credit lines, corporate credit card accounts, and capital loans, she has been able to work through the trenches to discover other scaling success markers like community involvement, mentoring, and being trusted as a go-to business services partner.
Liz Williamson, Lifestyle Management Co. – “Streamline to be as efficient as possible.”
Clients of Lifestyle Management Co. (LMC) turn over their To-Do lists to company contractors that have been through a seamless training program, to come home to serenity and relaxation. Lending a hand for virtually every need, Liz Williamson can say that her multi-location business is responsible for improving lives every day- but that didn’t come without years of mistakes, and a long journey to discovering her innate ability to lead and run systems that were both efficient and profitable.
Liz scaled LMC, a boutique personal and professional assisting firm with estimated $550,000 revenue for 2021, by adding two additional locations that offer the same services housed on the one digital platform. Mastering the streamlining process so that all systems could be replicated with new and emerging locations, afforded this-seasoned business owner the confidence and excitement required to welcome bigger cities to her service area. Liz’s best advice in the early stages of professional growth is to avoid pressure to accumulate debt when it comes to reaching a target market. Anything can be achieved with a little creativity and cost-efficient measures. When it comes to personal growth, Liz shares that the greatest lesson she learned over the years is to be yourself. Even as you scale successfully, always be true to who you are. This will ensure ongoing success.
Martha Picciao, Whiz Kidz Preschool – “Focus on personal growth and personnel development.”
Founder and CEO of Whiz Kidz Preschool, Martha Picciao, knew she wanted to combine her passion for teaching with an entrepreneurial desire to own a business, but her background was in education alone. Quickly moving from a first grade teacher to a stay-at-home mother, and then an in-home preschool director to a childcare center owner, this scale-up school starter knew she had to be immersed in personal development and mindset work if she was going to make it past selling appliances on Craiglist for cash. Eight years later, Martha now oversees three Whiz Kidz Preschool locations, 60 employees, and an estimated $3.8M for 2021.
Martha believes whole-heartedly that scaling a business begins with goals that terrify you as a founder, and follows with the work needed to become the leader that will take the business to that place. “A company’s success starts and ends with its leader.” She advises in taking risks and delegating to a well-trained team under systems that are proven. In the process of scaling operations, Martha admits that the highs are very high, but the lows are also very low. With a solid mindset and sound personal development, scaling should not be a struggle. However, she emphasizes that the most important piece of being successful in the process is to demonstrate that you truly care about the people you hire. Especially when times may be hard—those are the days you have to invest in them with your time and appreciation.