Businesses around the U.S. are ready to move forward, our entrepreneurial spirit ready to take control of the current economy and forge ahead. NAWBO’s women business owners are doing just that. And, as a major portion of the business sector (small, privately owned companies), that has the greatest impact on how our nation responds from a recession. NAWBO members are poised to impact our economy, communities and public policy in the year ahead.
As an organization, NAWBO has a strong history in the political arena. Our recent announcement of a partnership with Hogan & Hartson is just the first step in a plan to increase that impact. You’ll see much more from NAWBO in this arena in the year ahead—specifically in the areas of procurement and access to capital. Whether you’re a NAWBO member, stakeholder or simply a member of the business community, you too will benefit from this involvement. Still, I believe that we have a great opportunity as women business owners and leaders to shape our country’s future. Here are a few ways you can get involved and do just that.
1.) Learn the process and culture to identify your key contact. At the national level, building a relationship with staff is key to moving your issue forward. You’ll rarely get to see the member, so communicating with staff is highly important. In the state or local government, meeting directly with your member is easier. Whatever the level of your involvement, make time to visit the offices of your legislator. Maximize your time and learn the processes you’ll need to follow to make an impact for your issue.
2.) Find your allies and identify the opposition, then look for a compromise. Determine who is likely to join your view on an issue and who will oppose it. If there’s a way to find balance on an issue, make that your top priority. The more widely accepted your issue is, the greater chance you have of making an impact.
3.) Prepare and remain professional. Know the ins and outs of your issues and prepare as if you’re going to trial. If you’re advocating for an issue, chances are it’s something you’re highly passionate about. Remember the way you present yourself is key to being taken seriously and being heard.
4.) Take yourself seriously but know your limitations. Being aggressive, assertive and ambitious are essential to getting your issue noticed, but they won’t always get you what you want. Incorporate your style into your approach and remember to make sure your promises are ones you can keep.
Women business owners have a great opportunity in the year ahead both for our businesses and for a chance to come to the forefront on the issues that effect each of us today. I hope you’ll join us at NAWBO to do just that in 2010.
—Helen Han, NAWBO President and CEO