As one of the most known organizations for women, we have some exciting opportunities here at NAWBO. Each day they present themselves and offer us a real chance to make a difference in the community around us—both for women and business owners at large. Recently, we had the opportunity to weigh in on an action plan that I personally believe will lead to exponential revenue growth and job creation among women’s businesses over the next decade. It’s an exciting time for us all.
Roadmap to 2020 not only tells us how to create more jobs—but also how to improve the quality of those jobs, with higher salaries and better benefits, in growing, innovative companies. When Quantum Leaps, the organization sponsoring the plan, came to NAWBO, we saw a need for adding capacity-building education into the conversation. The existing gap in the marketplace, where businesses past the start-up stage are looking for support needs to be addressed.
In the plan, these companies are called “The Missing Middle.” Those companies past the start-up stage, but with some potential for growth that need vision, strategy, benchmarking, coaching and mentoring. Ninety-one percent of women business owners find themselves in this segment of the population.
Within our segment of the Roadmap to 2020, we spoke to just this and are charting a course for 2020 by implementing the following:
- More Public Policy Action. Focusing on addressing the barriers to growth for post start-up business owners. This would include not only financial and management skill development, but visioning and getting more business owners to think not necessarily big but bigger.
- Just in Time. Providing more visible and readily available educational opportunities (designed in a “just in time” adult education format) for women business owners seeking the tools they need to get to the next level. Women’s business associations and support organizations should collaborate and cross-promote these offerings.
- Supply Chains. Corporations and government agencies should provide more visible avenues to access their supply chains particularly by offering teaming and mentor-protégée opportunities. With respect to government procurement, Women Impacting Public Policy’s (WIPP’s) “Give Me 5” initiative holds great promise.
- Growth Dialogue. Launching a thoughtful dialogue about the issue of growth that does not pre-suppose a linear trajectory to the multimillion-dollar stratosphere, and recognizes that growth for growth’s sake is not what most women business owners are about even those who own multimillion-dollar firms.
—Helen Han, NAWBO President and CEO