By Sara Webb, CEO, InTandem Promotions
Every time InTandem attends a WBENC or a GWBC event, we make a connection, grow stronger as an organization, and build on our future.
InTandem was thrilled at the opportunity to sponsor the recent Atlanta Tables of 8 event. The Georgia Power Team was engaging and enlightening. They not only provided the attendees with key insights in how to do business with them but also were active in what was needed to do business with Georgia Power.
We are so thankful for their continued promotion of WBE’s and their investment in time, energy, and resources. Definitely a worthwhile investment to attend, participate, and show up!!”
About InTandem Promotions: We are able to supply your company with every possible promotional product from over 3,000 suppliers. With so many ad specialties available there is a huge opportunity for professionals like you to boost ROI and leave a lasting impression with your customers. Our mission is to help you create long-lasting relationships with your clients through the power of promotional products.
It’s hard to say how long a business must invest before there is a return. In the federal government sector, the SBA usually quotes 20-24 months. In private sector it is usually much shorter. For EMI, the investment in Greater Women’s Business Council membership has been a win from day one!
Evolution Management, Inc. (EMI) has been a certified GWBC member for almost 10 years. I was first drawn to the organization as a result of experiencing the energy, commitment, and exposure Roz Lewis and her team demonstrate in their work for the collective “us” – woman-owned, small businesses!! Not only does EMI participate in as many networking and educational events as we can, but I also have volunteered on GWBC committees to “give back”, as well as continue networking and relationship- building.
EMI has seen many wins come from our GWBC engagements. First and foremost, are the relationships we’ve been able to make as we explore partnerships and get to know colleagues with whom we can brainstorm and discuss challenges. Second, we’ve had doors opened for us as a result of being certified by such a credible organization. For example, over the years, EMI attended several GWBC events hosted by the Delta, Georgia Power and Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Through those events, which also offered an opportunity to build a relationship with Supplier Diversity Program Managers, we positioned our firm to qualify for a procurement and recently were awarded a multi-year contract to support training needs for a large Atlanta-based organization. You know it’s a sweet feeling when all your efforts are finally noticed, and you’re given a chance to show what you can do.
EMI has also participated in several of the annual WBENC conferences. These events are HUGE — totally focused on companies and federal agencies serious about working with woman-owned, small businesses. Several years ago, at the Austin, TX conference, EMI had the chance to meet a Small Business Advocate from a federal agency. Through that brief conversation, assisted by the credibility of our WBENC certification, we had the opportunity to make an impression about how we could take on and support an upcoming need. Fast forward two+ years and many follow- up calls later –EMI recently won an award to assist with a large Human Resource consulting project.
EMI is grateful for GWBC opening the doors to make these connections and opportunities possible. We’re also excited and look forward to seeing what other seeds will sprout through other relationships we are cultivating. Finally, we’re grateful that we were prepared and ready with internal systems, resources and financial capabilities to successfully respond to these opportunities. I thank Roz and her team for creating professional and extremely fun events where business, learning, and networking can occur.
My advice to my colleagues – yes, there are those occasions when you meet someone and walk away with a contract – but those situations are rare. Instead of that approach, I suggest you declare yourself SUPER:
- Seen – Actively participating in GWBC, industry and networking events;
- Upbeat – Projecting a positive “Can-do” Image;
- Persistent – It takes time and effort to be successful;
- Educated – Knowledgeable about your industry and your target clients; and
- Ready – With people, finance and business system processes.
With over two decades of experience, Evolution Management, Inc. is a trusted partner to federal, private and academic clients focused on developing more efficient and effective organizations. We assist organizations to address and leverage changes associated with business needs, societal expectations, and technology advancements. We focus our consulting engagements in the areas of Organizational Effectiveness, Human Resources Management, Leadership and Staff Development, and Training (including eLearning). Visit our website at www.evolutionmgt.com.
Arriving to Palisades, New York in late September I cannot help but reminisce about the days when I started back to school. Even if you were not a school lover or a retreat lover, the Tuck-WBENC Executive Program is a MUST. Why? It allowed me a week away – away from the business and away from personal life to be with a small group of like minded women business owners.
Of course their businesses were all shapes and sizes, lengths of operations, and industry types; however, all very intelligent women. We were all different to some degree, but that was on purpose. The program allowed time to focus not only on your own business issues, but also provide a safe place for others to share theirs.
I really struggle to put words on this experience and perhaps that is why I sell nuts versus write blogs. I can say that without a doubt though that I would recommend it and do it all over again. When you go to any WBENC event and you witness people acting like they’re at a school reunion vs a business meeting, it will be because they were graduates of a Tuck program. It forms a unique class of women business owners each year that are bound together from then on.
Angela Bauer is an owner at Tropical Foods.
Tropical Foods is a second-generation family owned business founded in 1977. We start by sourcing the highest quality ingredients and then create snacks and mixes bursting with the bold flavors you love. With more than 3,000 snacks in our product line, Tropical Foods is the ideal snack partner for your business. To learn more, visit www.tropicalfoods.com.
By Keely L. Herrick, Trademark Attorney, KHerrick LLC
If you avoid going to the dentist, would that save you from ever having a cavity? Certainly not, and if you do have a cavity, waiting to seek help can make the final resolution more painful and expensive. Well, many business owners approach brand protection the same way: they wait until they actually have a problem to reach out to a trademark lawyer. If you contact a trademark attorney to help you with the search and registration of your brand name early in the process, you can avoid wasting huge amounts of time, energy, and money in the long run.
1. Order a trademark search before you start using the mark. Once you have gotten used to a new product or service name, you can become emotionally attached, and if you learn that someone else has rights in the trademark, it can be difficult to resolve yourself to moving on to a different name. It also can be very expensive if you have to take products off the selling floor (or even a website) and to redesign packaging. Receiving a cease and desist letter is stressful for even the most seasoned businesswoman, and having a trademark search conducted by an experienced attorney can help to avoid that unpleasant surprise.
2. Give the attorney the benefit of your expertise. You know your industry better than your attorney, so give her a heads up if one of the terms in your chosen brand name has a special meaning within the industry, or if it is commonly used. Obviously, we all know what a sock or a t-shirt is, but if your company offers financial services or a specialized form of consulting, for example, the meaning behind your mark may not be obvious to someone outside of your industry. Also, if you know of others using similar marks, this information is helpful to allow your attorney to offer the most informed opinion.
3. Secure rights to any logos or graphic elements. You know your industry better than your attorney, so give her a heads up if one of the terms in your chosen brand name has a special meaning within the industry, or if it is commonly used. Obviously, we all know what a sock or a t-shirt is, but if your company offers financial services or a specialized form of consulting, for example, the meaning behind your mark may not be obvious to someone outside of your industry. Also, if you know of others using similar marks, this information is helpful to allow your attorney to offer the most informed opinion.
GWBC members should know that a little bit of time spent with a trademark attorney at the beginning of the brand selection process can result in big savings in the long run. And it’s generally more fun than visiting the dentist!
Keely Herrick, Managing Partner, KHerrick LLC focuses her practice on intellectual property law, including domestic and global trademark prosecution, clearance, opposition and cancellation actions, enforcement, and licensing as well as domain name disputes and copyright matters. Prior to her current position, she worked in the intellectual property department of Katten Muchin Rosenman in New York City and at a boutique intellectual property firm in Atlanta.
Keely L. Herrick
By: Cassandra Bailey, CEO of Slice Communications and Laura Berry, Founder and CEO of Cogberry Creative
As a female CEO, one of my favorite events of the year is always the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Summit & Salute. The Summit & Salute is one of WBENC’s annual events that highlights the accomplishments of America’s Top Corporations for Women Business Enterprises and top Women Business Enterprises (WBEs). The networking and knowledge that I gain every year from this conference is invaluable.
In New Orleans this year, the pace was fast and furious. That said, this event is smaller than the WBENC National Conference which makes it easier to make real connections with the other attendees. The roundtable sessions give speed-networking a whole new definition. Imagine meeting 8-10 people at a time and getting know enough about them to want to find time to reconnect at the Summit and beyond. It’s thrilling.
This year, the Forum, which is exclusively for WBEs, added its own meet-and-greet / speed networking. This is particularly exciting for me because I fully believe in the power of WBE-to-WBE business and all it has to offer. That’s part of the reason that Slice Communications and Cogberry Creative chose the WBENC Summit and Salute to launch our new study aimed at helping other WBEs better market themselves. Solving The WBE Digital Disconnect: Connect To Corporate Buyers With Confidence made its debut at the WBENC Summit and Salute in New Orleans.
Since 2007, the number of women-owned firms has grown at a rate five times faster than the national average. Yet, women entrepreneurs are still much more likely to be sole proprietors with limited staff and even more limited resources than their male counterparts. In addition to challenges accessing capital and networks for growth, women entrepreneurs often do not adequately leverage social and digital marketing best practices that have been shown to open doors to corporate buyers and other customers. This disconnect between how corporations buy and how women-owned businesses sell is becoming more pronounced as millennial buyers gain influence.
According to Google’s report The Changing Face of B2B Marketing:
- More than 40% of B2B buyers are now millennials.
- 42% of researchers use a mobile device during the B2B purchasing process.
- B2B buyers have already completed 12 research steps, including having searched for comparison products, watched videos, and read reviews before contemplating contacting businesses directly.
“How B2B Sales Can Benefit from Social Selling,” published in Harvard Business Review showed:
- 53% of B2B buyers say social media plays a role in making a final selection.
- 82% of B2B buyers said winning vendor’s social media content had an impact on the buying decision.
Working with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, three women-owned firms, certified through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), combed through almost 900 women-owned businesses’ websites and social media accounts to present a research-backed toolkit for the community of growth-oriented entrepreneurs.
The team intentionally sought research to understand the complicated reasons why WBEs were missing out on market share despite a climate of access in the supplier inclusion industry. A “digital disconnect” was uncovered between what WBEs are presenting in the digital space and how corporate buyers typically initiate and conduct supplier research.
An analysis of almost 900 women business enterprises (WBEs) across 43 states in addition to DC and Puerto Rico enabled the team to develop a weighted average system and resulting classification rubric. Businesses can take the test to see where they are on the scale from 0 to 4, with four being completely branded on each social platform. Each business reviewed for the study was ranked according to the rubric.
The researchers examined the websites and social media pages of the WBEs, including their corporate LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. The study found:
- 45% of WBEs have a below average website which may not be found through keyword search or the content may make it difficult to understand all the company’s products/services.
- 62% of the surveyed firms scored 0 or 1 out of 4 on their Twitter channel, meaning that most WBEs either had zero presence or owned a Twitter channel with minimal information that was not updated.
- 40% of the WBEs surveyed engaged on LinkedIn with a score of 1 to 2 out of 4 on their profiles, meaning they owned a LinkedIn page with minimal information that is not updated or a page with minimal information that is current but posts infrequently.
It has never been more important to elevate and empower women’s business development. More than 270 of the 500 members of the S&P 500 publicly advertise supplier diversity and inclusion programs. However, WBEs are not meeting those buyers’ marketing expectations. By sharing resources like this toolkit, WBEs can evaluate their marketing and scale their digital marketing and social media best practices to meet buyer expectations.
The 2017 WBENC Summit and Salute gave us the perfect opportunity to connect with other WBEs in an effort to help them grow. I’m really looking forward to continuing this work at the WBENC National Conference in June.
About the Authors
Cassandra Bailey is the president and CEO of Slice Communications, an agency that makes people pay attention to their clients using public relations, social media, and email marketing.
Laura Berry is the Founder and CEO of Cogberry Creative, content strategy firm assessing market impact, building brand equity, and engaging targeted audiences through powerful messaging.
During the two-day program, Downey and Dixon were able to discuss the future of various industries, business networking, and development opportunities with some of the country’s biggest corporations.
The Summit began on March 22nd with a Procurement Opportunity Connection meet and greet in the morning. This session allowed WBENC-Certified WBEs to discuss their companies, products and/or services with participating National Corporate and Government Members. The first day of the Summit also included future-forward sessions in which attendees were able to learn and ask questions of innovators from corporations around the WBENC network.
Day two of the Summit included WBENC’s Match Maker meetings. In these meetings, WBENC-Certified WBEs had pre-scheduled appointments with national corporate and government members and their prime suppliers and/or key business partners to explore first, second, and third tier sourcing opportunities. Not only were these tiers discussed at great length, but also through them, participants were able to learn how to be considered for these opportunities.
“I think the Summit was a really organized and very well thought out event where small businesses have the opportunity to get in front of some of America’s top corporations. Overall, it was a great experience for us,” stated CATMEDIA CEO, Catherine Downey about the Summit. The program also included evening festivities where attendees were able get to know one another and mingle in a more casual setting.
“We were able to get in front of some of America’s top corporations and not just in a business setting, but also in a social setting. The cocktail parties and additional events held during our trip allowed us to really socialize and get to know people,” said Downey.
When the events concluded, Downey and Dixon headed back to Atlanta with a wealth of new ideas for the CATMEDIA team.
Founder and CEO Catherine Downey built her company around five core values: creativity, quality of products and services, exceptional customer service, innovation, and integrity. CATMEDIA has consistently applied these core values to meet the ever-changing needs of government and commercial clients in today’s fast-paced world. CATMEDIA has twice been named to the Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America. For more information visit their website at www.catmedia.com
The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) has a mission to fuel economic growth globally through access to opportunities, by identifying, certifying and facilitating the development of women-owned businesses. As WBENC celebrates its 20th anniversary it is clear that they continue to live out this mission decades later. WBENC kicked off its 20th-anniversary celebration with their Summit and Salute hosted this year in New Orleans.
The WBENC Summit & Salute has always been one of my favorite supplier diversity events and this year was no disappointment. I have been a repeat attendee for the past three years. The first two years, I attended as a supplier diversity professional from one of WBENC’s Top Corporations. However, this was my first year attending as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) representative. Prior to the conference, I was looking forward to seeing how my experiences would be the same and different from previous years.
One of the main reasons that I love the Summit & Salute is because it provides numerous opportunities to make connections with both corporations and WBEs. WBENC provides numerous workshops and speakers to speak about topics that are helpful and relevant to WBEs and the corporations. Attendees have the opportunity to hear executives from the Top Corporations discuss the changing trends in their industry and prepare WBEs for the changing climate. In addition, WBENC provided mini panel discussions with numerous WBEs to discuss varying topics that are affecting women business owners.
As a WBE attendee, there were programs that I was able to participate in that I hadn’t attended in the past. The WBE forum was an excellent opportunity to learn about the current and future state of WBENC and hear from numerous WBE speakers. One of the highlights during the forum was a panel of WBEs that discussed how they have created their own supplier diversity programs. As a former supplier diversity professional I was very impressed to hear from WBEs that are really walking the talk. Another new experience was attending the Procurement Meet & Greet as a WBE. Even from a different vantage point, the Procurement Meet & Greet still provided great connections with both corporations and WBEs.
As I begin my journey to start my own business and become a WBE I have to reflect on the past few years of my career. I have been able to experience both sides of the table as a corporate and WBE representative but the one constant in all of the change has been WBENC. I am truly blessed to be a member of my local WBENC family but also the national WBENC clan. The Summit & Salute the past couple years has given me the opportunity to connect with old and new colleagues and to catapult my career to the next level. I encourage both WBEs and corporations alike to attend the WBENC Summit & Salute because from personal experience it has continuously been a turning point in my life.
Independent Contractor – Supplier Diversity and WBE Support
Mobile: (336) 908-0645
Woody Allen’s quote that ‘half of the battle is just showing up’ is applicable to women-owned businesses. It is a battle to create a successful business. While half of that success comes from skills, professionalism, and hard work, the other half comes from just showing up. You can’t be in the right place at the right time if you don’t show up. WBENC’s regional and national meetings, summits, forums and conferences provide opportunities to show up. For example, on an escalator at a Summit and Salute conference, I had an exchange with a gentleman who at the time, I didn’t realize was a corporate supplier diversity manager. While we chatted about the weather, long lines, and things that were not necessarily business related, I of course, took the opportunity to talk about my business. I followed up when I got back to the office and kept in touch. After about a year, he awarded me a small project. His corporation experienced my work and I was eventually awarded a $1.3 million dollar purchase order. This is but one example demonstrating the importance of ‘just showing up’. See you at the next conference.
Dydra H. Virgil, Principal
V&L Research and Consulting, Inc.
MENTORING, ACCOUNTABILITY & MASTERMIND GROUPS
Women business owners are typically working long hours, juggling family and work and isolated from other professional women. We all know that men form alliances and partnerships on golf courses while professional women leaders isolate themselves. That was me for most of my real estate career. I looked forward to conferences so I could learn and network but also to have quality social time with likeminded women. One conference we were awoken in the middle of the night due to a fire alarm. Two women with similar businesses in other parts of the country and I walked the streets of Tulsa until they let us back in our hotel room. It was during this unplanned meeting that we formed our weekly mastermind group. I can tell you now that I especially look forward to our weekly calls lasting an hour or so. On these calls, we discuss challenges we face, marketing strategies, employee best practices and so much more. We also created a google drive where we share our best materials and practices. We spent an intense weekend together working nonstop on perfecting our recruiting and onboarding documents.
My business structure and practices have greatly improved. But what I also value is the comradery we share with each other. I am a worker and employer. The ladies in my neighborhood for the most part are housewives and we have little in common. I like talking shop. With my mastermind group, I have this dynamic and look forward to every Friday morning we have blocked out to have our call.
I was fortunate to attend the last Tuck Executive Leadership training at Dartmouth fall 2016. The week was jam packed with information. I was so inspired by all of those incredibly successful ladies in the same room with me. But it didn’t stop there. A group of us are holding each other accountable and having webinar conferences to implement Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman. Prior to attending the Tuck program, I had listened to this book on audio but didn’t make the time to implement. Since the Tuck training, I have since sat down with my team and we created our Core Values. It was enlightening and team building. We are off and running and completing the steps set forth in this book. Until now, I was doing back flips to try instill the culture I wanted my company to have. Now the team is establishing our culture. This same awe inspiring group are planning a quarterly get together in different parts of the country to continue on our path to help each other with our challenges of managing and building our businesses.
We are supporting and inspiring each other. I am no longer alone in my challenging journey as a business owner. Our mastermind groups have filled the void and loneliness I experienced for too long. My business is running smoother and more efficiently and effectively. My personal joy is back.
Nancy Braun is the creative force behind Charlotte’s Showcase Realty (WBENC certified). Showcase Realty specializes in luxury real estate, buying & selling homes, short sales, foreclosures and Property Management. With her team of top real estate professionals focusing on technology and delivering a new kind of real-estate experience, Braun has positioned Showcase as the leading edge of the real estate industry, earning national and local recognition. Showcase Realty is committed to enriching the Charlotte community through selling homes, fostering neighborhood stabilization and promoting homeownership. Braun serves on the Board of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Charlotte and is consistently one of the organization’s Top 10 Donors.
Engagement, Motivation and Support are the Keys to a Successful Program
By: Candace Headley, Wellness Development Manager
Worksite wellness programs have been around for more than 40 years. Traditional medical-cost-based Return on Investment (ROI) approaches have arguably been the most important aspect and driver of these programs. However, having had a pulse on employee benefits programs for many years, we at Midsouth Benefits caution that this focus is outdated and flawed. Organizations of all sizes will need to embrace alternative perspectives to stay competitive. We recommend a shift from ROI to VOI, or VALUE on Investment.
Corporate wellness is no longer a perk … it’s an expectation. With the changing face of the workforce, including the influx of millennials, comprehensive wellness programs that include offerings such as flex time and telecommuting are becoming driving factors when deciding where to work.
Wellness is about behavior and lifestyle change, and change takes time and commitment. Wellness programs should provide employees with a sense of purpose and encourage positive morale, not just band-aid care, physical support and weight management programs.
MIDSOUTH BENEFITS’ TOP FIVE TIPS TO A WINNING WELLNESS PROGRAM
- EMPOWER PARTICIPATION! Support and empower your employees to participate in your wellness program by providing them with the opportunities to do so. After all, much of our time is spent working whether it’s in the office or not.
- PREVENTABLE CARE ISN’T PREVENTABLE! Seventy-five percent of chronic illnesses and diseases are preventable. An employee wellness program should address care that preempts sickness. Routine check-ups as well as consistent, ongoing health education and awareness information can help sustain healthy lifestyles.
- BE CREATIVE AND AGILE! Workplace wellness programs should not be boring! There is no “cookie-cutter” wellness program. Be creative and build a wellness program that is open to change and embraces growth. Employees need to be challenged and encouraged in different ways.
- MARKET YOUR PROGRAM!: As healthcare costs continue to rise, it is important to find ways to help your employees improve their bottom line by becoming engaged in your wellness program. Incentivize your employees to participate to win prizes, reduce premiums, etc.
- HEALTHY EMPLOYEES IS THE END-GOAL! Building and sustaining a wellness program takes time. Be sure to set clear and realistic goals. The idea behind wellness in the workplace seems straightforward: healthier employees. Without the participation of both employer and employee it will be hard to build a successful program.
Midsouth Benefits is an independent employee benefits agency and WBENC certified since 2011. Karen Larkin, CEO, and her team of dedicated, experienced professionals work primarily in the mid-size to large employee benefit marketplace (50 or more employees) brokering and consulting on a wide array of services including but not limited to benefits review, strategic planning, communication development, compliance, technology support and wellness program development.