By Mike Irwin The Wenatchee World, Wash.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A group of fantastic female entrepreneurs in Wenatchee Valley, Washington, sat down together to discuss how they started their businesses, how to overcome challenges and how they do their best to maintain their balance between work and family.
Five business women opened their minds and hearts Wednesday to talk about the trials and joys of entrepreneurship in the Wenatchee Valley.
Overcoming fears, recognizing opportunities, finding balance in work and family and discovering new aspects about their businesses and themselves were just a few of the challenges in starting up and managing a successful enterprise, they said.
The female entrepreneurial panel was the highlight of "Women Rule the World," a breakfast discussion hosted by GWATA at the Confluence Technology Center. The event drew an audience of more than 115.
The five women included JC Baldwin of GTC Technical Support, a call center; Wendy Dalpez of the Entrepreneur's Source, a business coaching and franchising firm; Kelsey Dew of the Dilly Deli, a Wenatchee restaurant; Brianne Vertrees of Merriment Party Goods, a downtown Wenatchee retailer; and certified public accountant Rosa Cruz of Chelan.
Moderated by Allison Williams, the city of Wenatchee's executive services director, the panel addressed reasons why North Central Washington is a good place to start a business, how to overcome challenges and barriers faced by women business owners, how to maintain balance between work and family, why so few women start businesses, what the future might bring and other topics.
A few choice comments:
Why start a business in NCW?
Vertrees: There's nowhere else we wanted to live. Plus, the resources here are fantastic. I knew if I opened a business here, I'd have the tech to work with people from all over the U.S.
Baldwin: Yes, it's a beautiful and supportive community that has terrific infrastructure. The PUDs have established (high-speed) fiber networks, and the work force is wonderful. We've never had any trouble finding people to work. What were challenges and barriers?
Dew: I got into business in 2008, peak of the recession, when I was 24 years old. People looked at me and thought, "24 and a female? And she's starting a business in this economy?" Lots of discouraging comments at first.
Cruz: The real challenge for me was setting up personal boundaries on when to work and not work. I mean, when you work for yourself, you work all hours to get the next client. The difficult thing was to set up office hours and stick to them.
Vertrees: I was lucky to have a supportive family and entrepreneurial circle because my greatest challenges were my doubts, lack of self-confidence and self-defeating fears. Two years after opening my business, I'm still working to make sure those things don't stop me. How do you achieve balance?
Dew: Grabbing a few moments for myself, even if it's just driving alone in the car, is important. Also, surrounding myself with family and friends who are like-minded, supportive entrepreneurs.
Dalpez: Maintaining flexibility in my schedule and designing my business to fit my own lifestyle. Also, learning to say "no" was a hard thing to do, but I learned not to spread myself too thin. Learn to make the best decisions not only for business, but also for your life and family.
Vertrees: Sometimes balance isn't always realistic for me, but I try to do intentional things to bring joy into my life. Often if I'm feeling unbalanced, I try to change the way I think (about a problem). Happy, joyful thinking can change how I feel, which can change how I approach a challenge.
Why so few female founders of businesses?
Cruz: Lots of reasons. There's a lot of fear, a lack of confidence and lack of start-up money. Also, a fear of (physical and emotional) burnout when you realize there's no real way to "turn off" the business. For me, I faced all this by looking to self-development and learning to plan ahead.
Baldwin: About being afraid ... you've got to reach a point where you're more fearful of not grabbing an opportunity than fearing failure.
Dalpez: We've got to help women break through the fear factor, and I'm seeing more of this every day. More and more women are moving forward in male-oriented businesses. For instance, being a handyman -- or a handyperson.
Dew: Lots of women have ideas and plans, but few get the funding. But I've learned that if you have a good idea and the passion to go with it, then money can always be found. What makes you unstoppable in pursuit of your dreams?
Cruz: Women (entrepreneurs) need to realize their strengths and weaknesses and play up their strengths, make them work in your favor.
Vertrees: I'm completely motivated by the thought that this is my one beautiful, wonderful life to live. How am I going to use it? When I'm 108 and looking back on my life, I know my regrets won't involve failures, but the dreams I never chased.