A Conversation with Katie Lewis: Co-Owner of Dance & Company

An interview with the co-owner of Dance & Co

An interview with the co-owner of Dance & Co

As one of the fastest growing segments of the small business community, women-owned businesses account for 30 percent of small businesses today, compared to approximately 5 percent in 1970, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

This interview with Katie Lewis, co-owner of Dance & Company, is part of a series where we interview inspiring women-owned businesses highlighting the interesting facts, untold stories, and signature elements of each business. Like their businesses, each business owner’s journeys is unique, and offers insight into what it takes for a small business to flourish.

What makes your business stand out from the competition?

We offer dance and fitness classes in an affordable and safe environment and cater to our community by helping everyone that walks through our doors feel as though they are part of our family.

What keeps your customers loyal? 

Being a part of our Dance Family. We encourage every student/dancer to be themselves, to focus, and to do the best that they can given their capability. But, above all, to have fun!

Why do you think it is important to celebrate and recognize female business owners?

This is an incredibly competitive world we live in, and also one that could potentially be male dominant if it weren’t for strong, intelligent, and determined women, such as ourselves. So, it is important to celebrate and recognize the contributions female business owners give to the community. I believe our world would be a much different place if it weren’t for us women and the different role we bring to the business world.

What does being a female business owner mean to you? 

It means everything to me! Sometimes I still have those moments where I need to pinch myself. When I’m leaving the studio, there are some evenings where I just stand outside of my car and look into the studio as classes are still going on. Those are the moments when I realize that my dreams have become a reality. I see the parents in the lobby observing class time. I see our receptionist at the front desk, kids in the studios actively learning and having fun. Being a female business owner is an incredible feeling. Being a business owner in THIS business – now that’s a dream come true.

What inspired you to start your business?

I grew up dancing, so owning a studio was always in the back of my mind. I also found that, as I approached my adult years, I had a strong business mind. I say today that I was born to be a business owner. I have always been incredibly independent with all that I do. I had three jobs throughout high school and college; so needless to say, I was a very hard worker. I also knew that I wanted to be my own boss. I had vision, creativity and also a strong passion for wanting to be involved in community enrichment. There was nothing I wanted to do more than to own and operate my own dance studio. So, we did it!

What’s the most rewarding part of owning your own business?

I truly believe I have one of the most rewarding jobs in the world. I don’t do this for the money. I absolutely LOVE kids. In fact, I love teaching in general, whether it be a child, a teen or an adult. I have a passion for watching dancers grow and improve. I love the “ah hah” moments – the look on my students’ faces when they achieve their goals, or it simply just “clicks”. I also love fostering a safe and family-friendly environment for these kids to come to after school. I know that when I was growing up, I danced every single day after school. I know that dance kept me out of trouble, kept me active and fit, and allowed me to be comfortable in my skin. I absolutely love being able to offer those same advantages to our community.

What are the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?

One of the most prevalent challenges we face is that, in order to get qualified, reliable and professional instructors, you must pay them what they deserve. On the other hand, dance lessons aren’t all that expensive, especially in a non-competitive studio. That being said, most dance studios such as Dance & Company are considered under the umbrella of “not for profit”, even though we aren’t officially a “non-profit” business. It’s been four years and although we are doing exceptionally well, we are constantly trying to find new ways to help our business become more profitable, all the while keeping on track with our business model. I always say, I’m never going to be “rich” but at least I’m doing what I love and there is no better happiness than that.

How do you hope to see your business grow?

We have high hopes for Dance & Company. We just started a dance program for children with Special Needs and that is going extremely well. We hope to really grow this program and expand within and around our community. Additionally, we are working on cultivating a plan for our next big revelation – becoming a Performing Arts Pre-School. We have so many wants and dreams for Dance & Company but always seem to be reminded that there are not enough hours in the day. We also need to remember to take one step at a time so as to not grow too quickly; we’ve seen too many businesses fail because of lack of resources. We pride ourselves on knowing the first and last names of everyone who walks through our doors. We know that our student base loves us because of the environment that we provide and we never want to lose that charm.

A Conversation with the Owner of Diggity: Tindley Gilbert

An interview with the owner of Diggity

An interview with the owner of Diggity

How did you get started in business?

I started Diggity because I saw a real need for users of social media to quickly and easily search, save and share information that was relevant & personal to them that they’ve posted on various social media sites.  It started as an idea born out of a family trip we took to Egypt.  We documented our experiences with posts and photos and received great comments on everything.  After our trip, I wanted to pull together all  posts, photos and comments so I could have a succinct comprehensive and personalized memory album of our special family vacation. Unfortunately, there was no way to do that.  A few months later, as my daughter’s birthday was approaching, I realized that I had never made her a baby book.  As I considered how daunting of a task that could be, I realized that I had already done a lot of the work!  Information about her milestones, birthdays, fun outings and sayings were all posted on Facebook.  The only question was–how do I easily & quickly find what’s relevant for me and create something that is long-lasting?  Enter Diggity!

What makes your business stand out?

Diggity is about making fleeting memories permanent.  In today’s world, we all move very quickly.  We post throughout the day across multiple sites, sharing the various aspects of our lives.  But what happens when you want to find that information after a few days…weeks…months?  Even if you could find it, what would you do with it?  There are many web and mobile applications that focus on the quick nature of today’s society.  We wanted to provide a solution to those who wanted to capture and remember those memories. Diggity is designed for one purpose–to provide our users with the information that is personal & relevant to them in the easiest and quickest manner possible–and to provide them an opportunity to retain it so they can have it forever.

What do you love about owning your own business?

Wow…this list is really long!  Probably the best part about owning your own business is being able to set the tone and values of the organization.  I am a mom first and my children are very important to me, so owning my own business means I can ensure that we remain family-oriented.  I have more flexibility in how I integrate my professional and family lives and we try to infuse those values with anyone who works with our business.  That said, it is a great challenge as any business owner, male or female, would tell you. You’re never “off the clock” and you have responsibility to make sure everything meets your standards.   You really do have to work hard to find thebalance that works for you.  In addition, I am very passionate about leading organizations and solving problems, so owning my own business has been fun because I enjoy the responsibility that comes with setting the strategic direction, hiring the fantastic team members, and leading a team towards a goal.  I cried the first time I downloaded Diggity from the iTunes App Store because it was the realization of so many dreams–not only the dream of a product to meet the need that was identified, but the dream I’ve always had to lead an organization in the development of that product.

With all the benefits, owning your own business has many challenges.  For anyone who is considering it, I would recommend they do a significant amount of due diligence, including regarding the product, market, revenue structure, and competitive set.  But, I also recommend that they think about their own life and how owning a business would impact their life, both positively and negatively.  I suggest they talk to other business owners, and that women find other women business owners to be advisors or mentors.  I’ve learned that there is a steep learning curve to starting your own business but that it flattens fairly quickly as you seek advice from others.  I’ve always been amazed at how open other business owners are to providing insight, advice and constructive feedback.

How have you grown?

I can honestly say that owning my own business has had the single greatest impact on my professional career and personal life. I was extremely nervous when I first started out as I wondered if the business would succeed and worried about if it didn’t.  I went through what I call “analysis paralysis” as I endlessly analyzed the pros/cons, and this process can keep you from moving forward. But, through this process, I’ve learned to trust my instincts more.  I’ve had to make decisions with the best information I had at the time, and realized that if I’ve done the research, everything works out. I’ve watched our business evolve and grow through the process and this has increased my own confidence in myself. I’ve became comfortable with the fact that there will always been “unknowns” but that I can trust my institution.

While there is something very scary about running your own business, it’s also very freeing.  You begin to trust your instincts, be comfortable asking for what you want, and appreciating all feedback…good and bad.  I’ve learned to prioritize what’s important, recognize that some things happen for a reason and leverage everything into opportunities.

Who in your network, or what resources do you lean on for your support?

I believe very strongly in the power of building & utilizing your networks.  There are various networks I use dependent upon where I am and the kind of support I’m looking for, but they range from friends who can give honest advice…to women who have sold their own businesses and can help provide strategic direction.  I really believe in the “pay it forward” concept of networking and feel strongly that most people, especially women, want to help others succeed.  They want to share their insight and knowledge and try to help others avoid mistakes they may have made.  I think it’s especially important for moms to support each other–whether or not they work outside of the home.  So, I lean on so many of my networks for support.  If I’m traveling, my friends are often kind enough to help with school runs or playdates.  I also lean on my close friends as confidantes when I’m struggling with a business concept or problem and need an outsiders’ opinion.

I am also still involved in my education networks–high school, undergraduate and graduate.  I’ve always enjoyed staying in touch with everyone and have found that those networks are so valuable as there is an implicit trust that has been built over the years.  I am part of several women’s organizations and find that they are extremely valuable. Women business leaders can help other women succeed and make sure that we are helping create an easier environment for the next generation.

Lastly, I think it’s important to cultivate your professional network.  As you grow within a company and even if you move on, make sure to build long lasting and trusting relationships with your colleagues.  I’ve been amazed at how important those relationships have been to me personally and professionally.  If you move into a new industry, as I did with technology, work with your networks to start learning more about the industry and to begin developing your own network in your company’s space.

What are your goals for your business in the upcoming years?

We have a lot of exciting plans for Diggity in the upcoming 6-12 months and beyond.  I’d love for it to be the primary application consumers use to search, save and share the content they’ve posted across multiple social media sites. I’d love to see us grow our team and continue to have a values-driven organization.

A Conversation with Branya’s Bakery

An interview with the chief cook of Branya's Bakery

An interview with the chief cook of Branya’s Bakery

As one of the fastest growing segments of the small business community, women-owned businesses account for 30 percent of small businesses today, compared to approximately 5 percent in 1970, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

This interview with the chief cook of Branya’s Bakery, is part of a series where we interview inspiring women-owned businesses highlighting the interesting facts, untold stories, and signature elements of each business. Like their businesses, each business owner’s journeys is unique, and offers insight into what it takes for a small business to flourish.

What makes your business stand out from the competition?

We have two things – first, we are the only scratch bakery in Northwest Indiana. Second, we are the only bakery with a full line of fresh-baked goodies made without gluten.

What keeps your customers loyal? 

Our quality and customer service. Our willingness to say yes when no one else will, or to find a good recipe to make an “old family favorite” someone can’t get anywhere else. When we expanded into our made-without-gluten line, it was done out of demand to provide something not available in our area.

Why do you think it is important to celebrate and recognize female business owners?

I think female business owners face challenges to build their business and juggle life. It is awesome to see a business built from love, sweat, and tears, and I think the women do it the best.

What does being a female business owner mean to you? 

It means long hours, great rewards, and because I work with my family—A LOT of family time.

What inspired you to start your business?

My husband is an amazingly talented pastry chef, so I exploit his talents. Seriously though, there are less and less bakeries in our area and more and more grocery store bakeries. They don’t taste the same as a scratch bakery, so there was this missing piece. My husband has all of this talent not being recognized in corporate America and we were looking for a small cafe spot for my talent as a chef. So we switched gears and went for a bakery, and later incorporated my savory to his sweet. We use recipes from both of our families. I run the business and work with the customers and my husband makes sure I have product to sell. It’s perfect and we love it!

What’s the most rewarding part of owning your own business?

Seeing the look on someone’s face when they eat a cream horn or an eclair and you know they are back in their childhood remembering a special trip to the local bakery. Or the look on a kid’s face when they see the donuts we make and they say they are as big as their head. There is also no one else who directs what is done, NO BOSS! The success or demise of what is done everyday or at the end of the month is mine.

What are the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?

We have an entire generation who have not grown up with a local bakery. The memories that people have from walking into a bakery on Saturday morning are fading, so convincing people to shop local instead of drive-thru or grocery store was a challenge. People starting coming in and word of mouth gave us the start we needed. We are a scratch bakery with old-school recipes. The baked goods you pick up anywhere has people on sugar overload and loaded with preservatives and fillers which change the texture of certain bakery products, so we had to learn to have everyone taste before they bought so they knew buttercream was not the But-R-Creme™ that is everywhere else. The challenge of who to advertise with was also a big challenge but once we found that our local newspaper was great for one demographic and Groupon was great for another demographic it was so much easier to get our new products out to the public.

How do you hope to see your business grow?

We hope to expand our made-without-gluten items into their own bakery so we can then call them gluten-free. We have also heard for years from other cities around us how wonderful it would be to have a bakery in their own downtown areas. There is also a desire to have a food truck, more locations, more options and we can even make it into Chicago to reach our weekend customers at work.

Do We Need Women in Small Business Month?

Thoughts on celebrating Women in Small Business Month.

Thoughts on celebrating Women in Small Business Month.

We’ve spent October celebrating Women in Small Business Month with profiles of women-owned businesses, interviews, and articles aimed at female entrepreneurs. As we wind down the month I think it’s worth asking, is this really necessary? Are female owned businesses such a rarity that “Women in Small Business Month” is still needed?

What about networking groups aimed at women only? Many women feel that since their fields are mixed or even male-dominated, women-only networking groups aren’t as useful as mixed groups. As lawyer Jocelyn Nager says, “Although I gather information, leads and support from women networking groups, I get most bang for my buck, from “mixed groups” I am on the Board of the Executives Association of New York and have grown my practice exponentially from the male dominated group.”

Lauren Milligan, owner of ResuMAYDAY, has mixed feelings about the issue. “As a woman business owner, I know that women do business differently than men, and that’s something that should be celebrated and pushed forward. However, when a business meeting turns into a gab-fest about potty training, or you have a room full of women tearing their purses apart to win a gift certificate, that’s when it becomes demeaning.” Milligan cites an example of attending an expensive “women-only” conference only to have the keynote speaker spend the majority of her speech talking about her children.

But Nicole Yeary, founder of Ms.Tech, a networking group for women in technology believes there’s still room, and a need, for groups such as hers. “As an organization, we aim to empower and advance women founders and women in technology. We hope to inspire the women in our group to learn, lead and achieve their dreams in confidence. This doesn’t mean that we discourage them from networking with, working alongside or learning from their male peers. However, we truly believe and see every day that having a group of like-minded women to turn to helps our members take action. If things are going to change, we all have to support one another and more of us have to take action.”

So what do you think? Are women-only networking groups necessary? Are they helpful? Could they possibly hold women back? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Related Articles:

Marta Segal Block is a social media and content marketing consultant specializing in small-service businesses. You can read more of her work and random thoughts on Advice from Marta and Facebook and follow her on Twitter

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.

A Conversation with Wendy Solomon: Owner of Flawless Day Spa

An interview with Flawless Day Spa owner

An interview with Flawless Day Spa owner

As one of the fastest growing segments of the small business community, women-owned businesses account for 30 percent of small businesses today, compared to approximately 5 percent in 1970, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

This interview with Wendy Solomon, owner of Flawless Day Spa, is part of a series where we interview inspiring women-owned businesses highlighting the interesting facts, untold stories, and signature elements of each business. Like their businesses, each business owner’s journeys is unique, and offers insight into what it takes for a small business to flourish.

What makes your business stand out from the competition?

Although spa services are often thought of as simple relaxation, our services are therapeutic, as well.  We want to make sure that when our customers leave, we have made a positive difference for them, whether that means an enhancement of their skin, release of muscle tension, or an improvement in a specific health condition…we really work on the “whole” person.  We also pride ourselves on being approachable and friendly—for us it is about the customers and their needs, not just about selling something to them.

What inspired you to start this business?

As an esthetician, I am fascinated by skin care, and so my initial desire was to help clients with their skincare needs.  But I have seen that it is much larger than skin care—it has to do with self-esteem, self-care, and how those we have touched impact others around them.  As the spa has grown and included massage and holistic treatments, it has given us the opportunity to provide a much deeper level of service, to help connect with the mind, body, and spirit, and really make lasting changes in people’s lives—inside and out.

Why do you think it is important to celebrate and recognize female business owners?

Men still out-earn women by a huge percentage, get more business loans, and have more top leadership positions. In many ways, specifically financially, women have less advantages when it comes to careers, and particularly in starting their own businesses. But there are significant studies that show that as women prosper, the economy prospers. Women are more likely to invest in their families and communities, and tend to nurture and develop other women, and so there is a bigger return when we support and recognize these women.

What does being a female business owner mean to you?

It means that I have the capacity to impact many lives. It is awe-inspiring to me to be able to employ talented people and give them a place to utilize their gifts. And equally amazing to be able to reach so many customers and hear from them how we have touched them. We often receive testimonials and notes from clients about what our service means to them, and it is gratifying to know that we have been able to help them. I enjoy being part of the community, as well, and as we grow, that we are able to give back to some of the other businesses, organizations, and individuals.

What is the most rewarding part of owning or running your business?

The most rewarding thing is meeting so many fantastic people. Our staff is amazing—they are each very good at what they do. But beyond that, they are great team players and bring more to their work than just what is on their job descriptions. I have learned a lot from them. And our clients are the best! They have helped make recommendations and we have listened, and our growth is due to them. We appreciate our customers’ support of the spa, but also many of them have become good friends. We value all of them.

Where do you hope to see your business and community in the next five years?

We do have planned growth in terms of more services that we can offer. In the future, we look forward to being better able to give back to our community that has generously supported us

A Conversation with Amy Vorel: Vo Yourself

Amy Vorel's jewelry line

Amy Vorel’s jewelry line

As one of the fastest growing segments of the small business community, women-owned businesses account for 30 percent of small businesses today, compared to approximately 5 percent in 1970, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

This interview with Amy Vorel, owner of Vo Yourself, is part of a series where we interview inspiring women-owned businesses highlighting the interesting facts, untold stories, and signature elements of each business. Like their businesses, each business owner’s journeys is unique, and offers insight into what it takes for a small business to flourish.

What do you do?

I am the creator of Vo Jewelry

What do you love about it?

What I love about doing Vo is that I have gotten the opportunity to turn my passion for creating jewelry into a career. This isn’t work for me. I love that I am able to provide people with something they are happy with and feel confident wearing. When I walk down the halls of Groupon and see a girl sporting a Vo, I think to myself, ‘girl, you look good!’. There’s no reward greater than that feeling.

How did you get started?

I have always had a passion for jewelry. In college, I interned for a high-end jewelry designer in Chicago for a summer. When I walked into her loft to interview, one of the first things I came across was a picture of Sandra Bullock wearing her jewelry. I knew when I got the internship that I wanted to do the same thing one day. Since then, jewelry making has been a hobby and one day my girlfriend asked me to make her some jewelry for her mom. I knew this was my opportunity to create more. That was the day I decided to create Vo.

What or who inspired you to start your own business?

My Dad started his own business when he was 28 and still has the same business today at 63. He let’s me know that Vo is possible. Also, I am inspired by Lady Gaga. She is a strong individual who is changing the world one sequin at a time. I want to change the world one Vo at a time.

What challenges do you face in the operation of your business?

Finding time! There is never enough time in a day, especially with a full-time job. Since I really love making jewelry, I try to find time whether it be midnight or 6:00 in the morning. I know it is worth it when I hand my customer a Vo and it’s like Christmas to them.

How do you stay excited?

Surrounding myself with inspiration, positive people and this amazing city.

What are your goals for your business in the upcoming years?

To have that picture of Sandra Bullock on my wall wearing Vo!

A Conversation with Qiana Gordon, Owner of Urban Temple Studio Spa & Wellness

An interview with a female business owner

An interview with a female business owner

As one of the fastest growing segments of the small business community, women-owned businesses account for 30 percent of small businesses today, compared to approximately 5 percent in 1970, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

This interview with Qiana Gordon, co-owner of Urban Temple Studio Spa & Wellness, is part of a series where we interview inspiring women-owned businesses highlighting the interesting facts, untold stories, and signature elements of each business. Like their businesses, each business owner’s journeys is unique, and offers insight into what it takes for a small business to flourish.

What makes your business stand out from the competition?

The Urban Temple is all about total wellness. We focus on the whole body model, and offer services that help our clients heal physically, mentally, and spiritually.

What keeps your customers loyal?

The care and customer service we offer is the basis of our outstanding growth in the industry. We cater to the hard working people in our community, and they feel the compassion in every visit. We also have affordable services.

What inspired you to start this business?

I started my business in Nov 2010 with $3.60. I was a tired stay at home mom of 3 boys.I felt that my life was incomplete because I wasn’t living my dream of being an entrepreneur. I took the $3.60 I had and found a location to start and grew from there. My passion for people and healthcare has allowed me to create a wellness center that uplifts people who would ordinarily think they don’t deserve it. Like mothers, teachers, nurses, etc. The people who give but never receive the care they need. In a lot of ways, people like me when I was that tired mom of three boys that needed to be cared for.

Why do you think it is important to celebrate and recognize female business owners?

Women are quickly becoming all things to all people in regards to taking care of family needs. Celebrating the accomplishments of successful female business owners allows other young women to see that it can be done, and avenues of success are available outside of being an actress, model, singer, dancer, etc. Women can have families and be successful and shouldn’t be afraid to show it.

What does being a female business owner mean to you?

Being a entrepreneur isn’t just what I do…it is who I am. Against all odds, I’ve proven to myself that it can be done, and my children as well as other women look up to me because I started and grew my business the old fashioned way—from the ground up with nothing but guts and a dream. Being a business owner allows me to be in control of my destiny, my children’s future, and my community’s health.

What is the most rewarding part of owning or running your business?

Everyday I give back to someone who needs to be uplifted and cared for.

What are the challenges you face? How do you overcome them?

Competing with other spa establishments is difficult. However, Groupon has allowed me to advertise my business to over a million people. This has created awareness of my company, and people recognize the name when they see our logo.

Where do you hope to see your business and community in the next five years?

In the next five years I see The Urban Temple Studio Spa being the leader of wellness services. Creating an affordable service for the community to stay healthy—mind, body, and spirit. We see wellness as a family affair because healthy families make healthy communities.

 

Women in Business: Advice Highlights from the Experts

Expert advice for women in business

Expert advice for women in business

Last week, we hosted a TwitterChat where we explored the state of women in business. With a panel made up of female entrepreneurs from varying career backgrounds, it was quite the knowledge share. While we discovered that many women start businesses to achieve more autonomy, and to make time for their families, many of our panelists agreed that finding a work-life balance is especially challenging for women– and even encouraged listeners to abandon that traditional thinking. How does your life change as your business grows?

Check out some of the best tips, advice and insight we gathered, and add your own responses in the comments below.

What inspired you to start your own business?

Wanted to be my own boss. Flexibility. Control. – Jill Salzman, @foundingmom

Like so many women I’ve talked to it was about finding a way to do meaningful work & still have time for family. – Marta Segal Block, @MartasAdvice

Turned a personal passion into a business. – Arianne Fisher, @Videostitchme

Who did you work w/ or collaborate with when you first broke out on your own?

We first went for mentoring with @scorementors Later we were accepted into @capitalfactory incubator. It was AWESOME. – Arianne Fisher, @Videostitchme

I connected with women in my own field. I offered to help them with a project so that I could learn from them. – Amy Bellgardt, @MomSpark

Don’t forget that guidance comes in all shapes and sizes, too. A mentor doesn’t have to be older than you! :) – SCORE, @scorementors

If passion gets you up in the morning, what keeps you up at night?

Work. Often I’m still working. But cash flow should be on every business owner’s mind – Rieva Lesonsky, @Rieva

Don’t forget to make a decision about when you’ll put work down for the night—and then actually do it. Rest up! – SCORE, @scorementors

What advice can you offer for breaking the cycle of undervaluing what we do?

Check out what your competitors charge. Stop accepting free jobs for your portfolio. :) – Arianne Fisher, @Videostitchme

Think like a guy – everything is a billable hour – no freebies! – Monika Jansen, @MonikaCJansen

I had to stop trying to help everyone else grow their business at the expense of my own. Not fair to me or my kids. – Dr. Lisa T. Richardson, @DrLisaWP

What are the limits that you see women placing on themselves? Do these affect how they value themselves? 

Emotions get in the way of the math! – Ellen Rohr, @ellenrohr

Women think about balance 2 much. No such thing. Life is a series of constant recalibrations - Rieva Lesonsky, @Rieva

Taking the Pulse of Women in Small Business

Fifty six percent of female business owners rate current business conditions as good or excellent .

Fifty six percent of female business owners rate current business conditions as good or excellent .

According to the latest Citibank Small Business Pulse Survey things are looking up for women in business. Fifty six percent of female business owners rate current business conditions as good or excellent – 13% higher than their male counterparts and a 10% jump from August 2012.

Growth is on the horizon for women-owned businesses, with half expecting their annual sales to increase this year. In addition, 11% of female business owners plan to add a location. Among those companies, 81% plan to expand near their current location, while 21% plan to expand across state lines and 10% to an emerging market. Most of these women-owned businesses (93%) see the new geographical market as a sales solution or business opportunity that does not exist in the current market, compared to 74% of male business owners.

When asked, “What made you become a small business owner?” female owners responded as follows (multiple answers allowed)

- 50% said having my own business was more appealing to me than a corporate job

- 30% had a great idea that they had to pursue

- 30% went into business with friends/family

- 24% wanted to run their own business rather than retire

- 14% were corporate executives and wanted to leave and open their own business

- 13% had a hobby and turned it into a business

- 10% inherited their business

- 3% were unemployed or lost job

Several of the issues we’ve noticed in talking to female business owners this month are supported by Citibanks’ results. For example, In our discussions about the difficulties women in business face, technology and fear of technology were frequent themes.  According to the survey, women owners are 11% less likely to incorporate innovative technology than male owners. Also according to the survey, only 15% of women classify their businesses as “in technology” versus 19% of men. Interestingly, 20% of women classify their business as “in healthcare” and only 5% of men do so.

Do these statistics about women in small business surprise you? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Thanks to Citibank’s Small Business Resource Center for sharing these results with us.

Related Articles:

Marta Segal Block is a social media and content marketing consultant specializing in small-service businesses. You can read more of her work and random thoughts on Advice from Marta and Facebook and follow her on Twitter

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.

A Conversation with Melanie Mitchell, Owner of Poppy Sports

An interview with the owner of Poppy Sports

An interview with the owner of Poppy Sports

As one of the fastest growing segments of the small business community, women-owned businesses account for 30 percent of small businesses today, compared to approximately 5 percent in 1970, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

This interview with Melanie Mitchell, co-owner of Poppy Sports, is part of a series where we interview inspiring women-owned businesses highlighting the interesting facts, untold stories, and signature elements of each business. Like their businesses, each business owner’s journeys is unique, and offers insight into what it takes for a small business to flourish.

What makes your business stand out from the competition?

1. We’re independent and women owned. 2. We specifically work with small boutique manufacturers, many of whom are owned and operated by women.  3.We’re endurance athletes just like our customers. 4. The quality of the clothing we sell is superior to our competition.

What keeps your customers loyal?

A personal touch in every shipment, be it a handwritten note, a gift, or packaging. We make sure that buying athletic clothing as an endurance athlete is just as enjoyable as buying from an online boutique.

What inspired you to start this business?

Necessity and passion. I was laid off from the publishing industry and had to find another direction. As soon as I started Poppy Sports, I kicked myself for not following my passion earlier. What was I thinking?

Why do you think it is important to celebrate and recognize female business owners?

Women are multi-taskers, they think outside of the box to get things done. Women are finally having more say in the world of business and they are finding it by bypassing traditional careers. I love that we are taking control and while we’re at it, helping to turn the economy to a better place. We need to showcase our achievements to the next generation and also to investors. More women businesses means more financing needed, and this is still lacking. More women-owned businesses need to make it over $1m in sales, more publicity and press around the women business owner can only help to build businesses further. I consciously support women-owned businesses every opportunity I have.

What does being a female business owner mean to you?

Inspiring other girls and other females to take the plunge! My daughter is so inspired by what I do. She helps at expos and her confidence has blossomed. As a consequence she has started making her own lip balm with a friend that they sell at a children’s holiday market every year. Inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurial girls is what it is all about! I want to show girls that if you need flexibility in your career, being your own boss is a way to achieve that.

What is the most rewarding part of owning or running your business?

I love, love, love knowing this is something I dreamt, created and launched. It is such a source of pride, strength, and dedication. The paperwork?  Not so much! But mostly, it never seems like work when I’m working on Poppy Sports.

What are the challenges you face in running your business? How do you overcome them?

Time, time, time. I am also still working a day job (trying to transition out!) but that all depends on healthcare for my family. I work late and I sleep little.

Where do you hope to see your business and community in the next five years?

Transitioned to full time employment, have pop-up stores around Denver, CO, and to have launched summer athletic camps for girls (and their brothers!). We want teenagers to mentor tweens to run a 5k at the end of summer.