It’s been said that a woman empowered will empower others. In October of 1988 the Women Owned Business Act was passed, allowing women to sign for their own business loan without a male co-signer, and now National Women Small Business Month is recognized this month. The change in law may have helped change the face of entrepreneurship in America and represented a new prevailing attitude about women as leaders and business owners. According to the 2019 State of Women-Owned Business report, in 1972 women owned 4.6% of all businesses, and as of 2019 they owned 42% of all businesses. As of 2019, women of color accounted for 50% of all women who owned businesses, of the nearly 13 million women-owned businesses in the United States.
All About Necessity
Life often takes people in unexpected directions. The opportunity to start and own a small business means women can provide financially for themselves or a family and use skills to enrich the surrounding community. Vicki McGraw, owner of Elegant Edibles catering in Jamestown, went through a time where starting a home-based business was a necessity so she could stay home with her children. She previously worked her way through college as a bakery specialist at Quality Markets to obtain a teaching degree. “I was passionate about decorating cakes” she said, and this led to her making specialty cakes and eventually catering from her home.
Dream Big, Start Small
Vicki’s home-based business began to grow beyond her kitchen, and she had to find a building and continue to grow her dream. She’s been at her current location for 20 years and learned plenty along the way. “The only person who is going to believe in it the most is you. If the business succeeds it’s on you, and if it fails it’s on you. Businesses don’t run themselves, and it’s best to set the example of being the hardest working employee.” Vicki encourages women considering a business to dream big and to find out what they are passionate about.
Challenge and Reward
Plenty of possible job opportunities are out there for the female entrepreneur. A background in secretarial work and being married to a farmer prepared Michelle Enos to take over Enos Milling and Tire as co-owner. She wears many hats to keep the business running. Overall, she finds the work challenging but “very rewarding.” Enos oversees the day-to-day operations, including paperwork, answering the phone, and managing employees. She mentioned that as a small business, the team works together to get it all accomplished. Enos says that while business ownership can be different than what you imagine at first, still, she never dreamed it would grow to where it is today.
Dig Deep and Find Good Role Models
Ronda Witford, owner and business manager of I-86 Auto Repair in Falconer said that, As far back as she could remember, I’ve always wanted to find a better way to do things. I didn’t want to create a business like all the others. My desire was to build something unique, to improve the female customer experience in particular. One day back in 2006 I asked myself, “When there are dozens of auto repair shops in the Jamestown area, what makes you think you can break into that market and be successful?
Hopefully there is a welcoming atmosphere and friendly smile awaiting you. This is where the rubber meets the road. The customer experience has begun! If you’re starting your own business, focus on relationships and not sales. With relationships comes trust and loyalty.
Business owners should create a culture that fosters professionalism and respect for all. . I’ve learned over the years to draw on my knowledge, experience and position for calm confidence
Great Believer of Hard Work
Local women-owned businesses are everywhere you go, and the interests vary widely. From catering store fronts to auto-repair, to busy salons, to our very own Jamestown Gazette, which is owned by Stacey Hannon, it’s proof that hard work pays off. Stacey knows that you must have confidence and believe in yourself. Do not rely on luck to have a successful business; work hard and the Luck will come.
The sky is truly the limit for entrepreneurship and taking the wise advice of those that have gone before is a great way to get started.