Generation Next

Feb 16, 2022 | Uncategorized

Throughout history, it’s always the responsibility of the next generation—and then the next—to carry the torch forward; to build on what’s already been created or accomplished and blaze a unique trail of their own.

Just think about NAWBO, which was founded in 1975 by a dozen like-minded women in the D.C. area who wanted to share information and create a community to further and strengthen their entrepreneurial interests. Every generation of NAWBO leaders who have followed have left their mark on this organization.

One day NAWBO will be in the capable hands of not myself and my fellow National and chapter leaders, but those of the next generation of diverse and talented women business owners. In fact, many of these young women are already part of our organization as NAWBO NextGen members.

NextGen is our growing membership category for recent college graduates or current students on the entrepreneurial track or even current high school students with existing businesses. It features special events throughout the year with topics curated to meet their unique needs and a NextGen Forum each fall featuring more great topics and opportunities.

When I think about NAWBO’s NextGen, this quote comes to mind: “There is no better exercise for your heart than reaching down and helping to lift someone up.” If you have the opportunity to encourage, support or mentor a young or emerging woman business owner, don’t hesitate. Extend your hand to help lift her up.

Here are a few ideas for how to support this next generation:

Let them know there are resources. Too many women (of all ages) try to “do it all” when they don’t need to, not realizing they can tap into so many resources available in their NAWBO or local community.

Share your personal technology wins. Leading a business can be all-consuming, so sharing your personal technology wins can give them a leg up. Even if they can’t afford employees yet, they can absolutely take advantage of free and low-cost apps and platforms.

Make time for face-to-face interaction. It’s hard to go it alone, so if you want to help them, let them pick your brain. Invite them to coffee or lunch (even over Zoom) just to learn more about them and provide insights you’ve gleaned from your journey. Introduce them to a few of your entrepreneurial friends too.

Open doors to funding sources. Access to capital is a major issue for every generation of women business owners. Helping young women fund their businesses by sharing your knowledge and connections can be one of the most impactful ways to assist them in getting their business off the ground or to the next level.

Every time I reach down to help lift another woman up, it definitely makes my heart happy. I hope it does the same for you and that together we can help inspire and impact the next generation of women business owners!

—Cristina Morales Heaney
2021-2022 NAWBO National Board Chair

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