When I first started out as an entrepreneur, just about six years ago with the launch of my candy company, Sugarpova, I had no true sense of the great challenges ahead: the learning curve, the ups and downs. I was 25 and invested six figures into the business. I had a limited amount of guidance, relied heavily on my own intuition and absorbed as much information as possible from those around me.
As a young start-up, I wore many hats in growing the Sugarpova business. It was only years later that I fully realized how these challenges would shape me as a businesswoman, and I’m grateful to be in a position to share my own successes as an entrepreneur with other women just starting out.
In March (on International Women’s Day, in fact!), I was thrilled to announce my partnership with the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), to form the Maria Sharapova Women’s Entrepreneur Program. At the core, it’s about women helping other women, and I couldn’t be more excited to help fellow female business owners starting from the very beginning of their journey get to the very top.
Through this 12-month program, my team and I will serve as mentors to six women selected to participate and will provide the right team, the right networks, as well as collective expertise in marketing and distribution. It’s basically an opportunity for budding entrepreneurs to take their product or company to the next level—making the most of my extensive Rolodex of business contacts and networks. And it’s a chance for me to share my passion for helping other women business owners thrive.
My team and I are in the process of accepting applications for the program—it will be a virtual/in-person hybrid program that includes mentorship, peer-to-peer support, mastermind and business education served up on a monthly basis by NAWBO, my Business Resource Team led by Traub Consumer and, of course, me.
NAWBO has been a fantastic partner—are you familiar with them? They’ve been around since 1975. The organization represents the interests of more than 11.6 million women-owned businesses, propelling them into economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide by strengthening the wealth-creating capacity of their members; creating innovative and effective change in the business culture; and building strategic alliances, coalitions and affiliations. NAWBO also has also helped to transform public policy and influence opinion makers.
There are never enough opportunities for women to be helping other women, and I can’t wait to see how this Entrepreneur Program takes off and takes shape. Who knows—maybe I’ll be investing in the next great product or company as a result of it! Only time will tell…
Photos courtesy of John Russo Photography, Sugarpova and GEO Souls