This week Frazier & Deeter and the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs organized an event for female entrepreneurs. Peers, a panel & productive networking, what more could you want?
While there was nothing terribly original about the event format, the energy in the room was strong and stayed high through the very end. The event was scheduled for two hours but women arrived early and stayed late. Clearly women entrepreneurs see value in spending time with those who share their experiences!
The business owners represented many shapes and sizes – consumer products, B2B services and professional services companies across the spectrum from early stage startups to thriving middle market companies. Yet the comments as the event wound down were similar: it was energizing to be in a room with other women who had chosen the same intense path for their lives.
The women who were past the startup stage were eager to share “lessons learned” with the business owners who were just starting out. As one woman put it, “Being a business owner can be very solitary, especially if you’re still working out of your home, juggling contractors and suppliers and customers. There are women here who are facing the same issues I did. It’s wonderful to meet my peers and be able to help them.”
And then there was the panel. It was a powerful combination of different perspectives. Amy Carabajal, Co-Founder and CEO of Squatchi, shared the experiences of a relatively new company dealing with issues of manufacturing and selling into retailers. June Slusser, Owner of Coldwell Banker High Country Realty, shared the experiences of a more mature business that has successfully navigated acquisitions. Bernie Dixon, Founder and CEO of Advising Angels, gave the group the perspective of an angel investor, citing trends across industries and business life stages. Each of them shared real-life observations about how to grow a company and pitfalls to avoid.
I will close with three of the insights of the day.
- To succeed you need to understand your true cost of customer acquisition. Don’t underestimate (nor under fund) acquisition of high value clients.
- Continued growth requires you to periodically pull back from the daily grind to examine the evolving economic, competitive and internal dynamics that may require “course corrections” in order to sustain growth.
- If you aren’t growing you are starting to slide backwards.
Yesterday was a beginning of sorts…stayed tuned for more events in 2013.