Tara Godby knows exactly what Established and Ready to Grow participants want from this NAWBO Institute program sponsored by AARP—because she was one of them just last year.
Based outside of Austin, Texas, Tara says she was really an entrepreneur at birth. “People used to say to me, ‘You’re not going to be happy until your name is on the door,’” she laughs. “I didn’t understand it back then because I was so young, but I do now.”
After studying television broadcasting with dreams of breaking the mold of then-popular talk show hosts like Ricki Lake and Sally Jessy Raphael with a show focused on being your best self, she had a change of plans. She had worked two jobs to put herself through school and was already making good money, so kept down that path.
For the next 25 years, Tara built an impressive career in leadership development. One day she was thinking about what got her jazzed about her work and something kept coming to mind: the people. “It was all the people who came into my office and wanted to talk about their job progression, wanted an informational interview or to talk about something personal.”
Tara returned to college to focus even more on “the people”, and in 2017 earned her master’s degree in professional and executive coaching. At first, she coached c-suite executives. Then, in 2018, she decided to expand her scope and do it full-time as an entrepreneur.
Today, Tara is owner of Elan Coaching and Consulting. She coaches mostly women who are giving themselves permission to live their lives fully and unapologetically. She also helps people reach the next level in business, relationships and more as well as speaks and trains on the topics of diversity and inclusion and professional development.
Just recently, Tara opened a second business with her husband called Teakeasy Tea. The urban tea business focuses on creating unforgettable tea experiences with fun, music-inspired offerings like the Louie Oolong (named after Louis Armstrong). In fact, attendees at NAWBO’s National Women’s Business Conference this fall will get a taste of it in the exhibit hall.
Speaking of NAWBO, Tara heard about the organization from a high school friend who is a psychologist and member of NAWBO in Buffalo, New York. She looked into it and joined during the pandemic, but was longing for more programming and in-person connections. That came after NAWBO Austin got its footing and Tara got involved. “I’ve been addicted ever since, NAWBO is such a blessing in my life,” she tells.
Last year, Tara was one of a small group of women business owners of color, aged 40-plus, who participated in NAWBO’s Established and Ready to Grow program for early-stage business owners seeking to propel themselves to the next level. It included a pitch competition, and Tara was a winner.
As such, she was invited to attend the 2022 National Women’s Business Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, at no cost. “I learned a ton of stuff from the program, but when I went to Louisville, it really solidified how NAWBO can support me and my business goals,” she says.
There, Tara made connections with other members from around the country, including some Circle members (NAWBO’s program for women with $1 million-plus businesses). They exchanged information and now have monthly calls to share and hold one another accountable. “NAWBO is really what you put into it; it’s building those relationships,” she says.
After returning from the conference, Tara reached out to Lynda Bishop, VP of National Programs for the NAWBO Institute, who she had gotten to know through the Established and Ready to Grow program. Tara felt that while the program was excellent, it was for women of color and they weren’t represented in the program facilitators.
“Representation matters,” Tara explains. “People have to be able to see themselves in the things they’re learning. I was glad Lynda was open to that candid conversation.” Lynda followed up later and asked Tara to facilitate the 2023 program. “I jumped in with both feet!” she says.
Since June, Tara has been facilitating sessions, where anywhere from 45 to 55 of the 60 program participants show up to engage in structured conversation. “It’s wonderful and dynamic and everyone’s getting a lot out of it,” she says. “It’s so important to be around like-minded people, but also people who can motivate you to think outside the box and get to the next level.”
For Tara, what she loves most about the experience is the community and continual learning environment she is creating. It includes women from all walks of life—NAWBO members and non-members who are attorneys, bakers, house cleaners and more; some with WBE and MWBE certifications and others with trademarks.
All sessions are recorded so program participants who have to miss a live call here and there can benefit. In fact, some participants still have full-time jobs, with their business being their side hustle until they grow it to a level that will sustain them.
“I’m meeting a whole new group of professional women who are dedicated to their businesses and making moves,” Tara adds. “It feels good to be some sort of help mate and sounding board for them.”
Icing on the cake is that Tara was recently invited to be part of the AARP Meet the Founder interview series. Look for her interview to appear shortly here. “You never know who’s in the room when you are part of an organization like NAWBO.”