Member Spotlight – Moments

Apr 2, 2024

Share a defining moment in your journey as a woman business owner and how it impacted you personally or professionally.

Melissa Lagowski
Founder/CEO/Queen Bee
Big Buzz Idea Group

There are so many defining moments in our history, but one of the biggest came in 2017, when my negotiation skills were put to the test. We had completed a project for an iconic institution in Chicago, and by the end of the project, we had devoted twice as much time to the event as we had expected. When it was time for renewal, our 2018 proposal doubled our fees from the original agreement. The client pushed back hard that they had never paid a vendor twice as much as the prior year.

As a small business, it felt a bit like we were being bullied by a big dog, but through the strength of our data and the numbers, we continued to push back that we could not/would not do the event again for less. It felt risky, but we were ready to walk away if we had to. I also realized that if we didn’t ask for what we needed to make the project work for us, my company would lose money. While it provided us great visibility, I couldn’t build a sustainable business on losses.

Ultimately, the client saw our value and they agreed to compensate us fairly. It was the toughest negotiation I had ever had, but it felt so good in the long run to hold the line about our worth.

Lisa Shaw
Chef Owner
Lisa’s Boutique Catering

In 2022, I surprised my mother for Thanksgiving. We had the “Perfect Thanksgiving Day.” The next day mom fell ill and never recovered. We spent 15 days in hospice care, celebrated her last birthday, and she passed away before Christmas.

I knew I had to take time off from my business but didn’t know how long I would need, nor did I have a contingency plan in place if I ever had to step away. I feared the financial consequences, but I had faith I was going to be okay. I took off six months and sat beautifully in my grief.

In spring of 2023, I attended my first NAWBO event. At the regional conference, I encountered so many amazing women! One of the members encouraged me to apply for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program; I was accepted and learned how to restructure and save my business.

Three important takeaways I’ve learned: you are resilient and stronger than you think, trust the process, and have faith. Lastly, the sun always shines after the storm.

Nancy Wunderlich
President & CEO
Ergonomic Solutions

Since beginning my entrepreneurial journey, I’m not sure I have even had time to stop and contemplate this question! Whether it’s working with customers, interacting with staff or learning all the facets of running a business, I think every day provides new defining moments.

Being a woman owned business pushes me out of my comfort zone on a daily basis by presenting me with new and unexpected situations. I am growing in ways I had never imagined; I set firmer boundaries, I face challenging situations head on and I have gotten better at asking for help on those days that I feel like I can’t do it anymore.

The journey is not always easy, but it is rewarding. I am proud of the lessons I’ve learned, and in turn, I feel like I have become a better role model for my twin daughters and that I have inspired others in my life to rise to whatever challenges life presents to them.

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