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Straight…no chase. Katrina’s thoughts about the truth of being a woman entrepreneur.

June 8, 2010

I’ve been fascinated with business and entrepreneurship since I was a child and knew I would be in business when I became an adult. I even started my accounting consulting business fresh out of college when a dance school asked me to help them get their books in order. This is in my blood. But I know that although I was born to do this I’m still on a journey to become an entrepreneur. I’ve learned that it isn’t something you decide to become but is a process and journey that continues to evolve. Fast forward 10 years later and I’m still on the business journey and now am starting to use social media to grown my business. I’ve joined quite a few sites and am seeing a lot of great information and knowledge being shared. However there is one thing I noticed consistently in networks and conferences; the lack of transparency from other successful business people, particularly woman. I rarely see people get into the guts and horror stories of what it truly takes and is like to be an entrepreneur. I’ve also noticed that Men in business have a totally different experience in business than women and therefore we can’t always play to the same set of rules they do.

I have an Accounting and consulting business and am very very good at it. In fact I’m set to launch a new business model that I hope will help small business across the country. There is a wealth of information available to help you navigate through the facts about starting a business, but not everyone will tell you that although they have a successful business, they struggle to pay their taxes, their marriage is on the brink of failure, they are losing their business because of a dishonest business partner or they are making six figures or seven annually but have no clue what their business is worth and will probably have to start their business over 5 times before they get it “right”.  My point is that we don’t need another site dedicated to facts, we need women who are willing to become transparent and offer truthful facts about their business and their journey. I can’t tell you the number of times I meet a successful business woman and once she finds out I am an accountant and consultant she immediately pulls me to the side or emails or calls me and whispers “listen I really need your to help me out with my books or my business, they are a mess!!” I’m happy for the business but it does disturb me at the same time.

Or maybe it’s just me maybe I’m the only one who while I have worked in corporate America for 10 plus years, couldn’t never seem to keep a job! I wasn’t supposed to say that was I? But it’s true! Or that a bad business decision almost cost me my relationship! Yikes! What does that have to do with starting a business? EVERYTHING! Being honest is very uncomfortable, but when you see statistics that show women make up more than 50% of all small businesses, of that women of color generate $230million in sales, out of 12.6 million people that work for women owned companies, 1.6 million of those people work for women of color firms; and THEN with all of that find out that Asian American women have the highest business survival rate double that compared to Black women whose survival rate is less than 35%! WHEW! Ok, I’m calm now. My point is regardless of the stats, as those were recorded in 2006, women of color and black women in particular have unique set of challenges we are faced with in America if we really want to be successful, whatever that means to us, however we individually chose to define that, we must be willing to address those challenges with honesty and transparency.

Once I failed at starting a Mental Health business, once my relationship almost ended because I became a slave to my business, once I was bed-ridden for a week because I failed to take care to myself, I realized that the only way I can become a true entrepreneur is if learned from all of these and be willing to share my journey with others.   Being an entrepreneur wasn’t something I “decided” I’d become one morning it’s something I’m discovering through trial and error success and failure. One example of this is the story of Nadine Thompson former CEO of Warm Spirit (see next blog).

How to balance work and life and business shouldn’t be in separate blogs, they should all be together because those areas truly need to work together to make a successful business woman. Coupled with not being afraid to fail (see next blog) We need to educate women to understand the term entrepreneur to truly understand it is a journey not something you decide to become (we will explore this further- shout out to Olalah of the Yellowwood Group for the “Aha!” moment I received at the Diversity Women’s conference in Greensboro in 2009). We need to know what aspects of your physical life need to be in alignment, we need to know that a Business Starter Kit that does not include tips on Bookkeeping, marketing, self-assessment, personal finance assessment, a succession plan is not complete. We need to talk about relationships with men when we embark in business and how that effects our business development. We need to talk about learning to trust others, outsource, share, and we need to learn about how to create a working business plan and not focus solely on the business plan as it will always evolve. We need to talk about technology and how blacks are disproportionally not aware or involved in the bountiful technology that is out there to help our businesses. We need to know about building business credit. I can on and on. We need not just facts on entrepreneurship, but those of us who rely on blogging as experts to help build our businesses, need to take the time to be a bit transparent. If you really want to help another woman in business tell her about your failure tell her that yes you are an expert in your area, but tell her how you got here and no it wasn’t all about the corporate gigs and degrees, and happy clients it was about trial and error, divorces, mistakes, failures, unhappy clients and subsequent successes.

Be Empowered…

Katrina

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3 Comments
  1. Thanks for viewing this post. I have updated the post and made a couple small changes! I hope you enjoy!

  2. Hi Katrina!

    Imagine my delight when my reputation monitoring tool found your blog post and I read your amazing post. WOW! Where to start…….

    The stats on privately held, female owned businesses are encouraging and yes, the failure stats of those that represent minority owned business survival are a big concern.

    As you know, I am all about educating professionals about the difference between “self-employed”, “small business owner” and “entrepreneur”. There are distinct differences and yet, the terms are used synonymously very often. Much to my dismay.

    I appreciate the shout out and am thrilled that you gleaned from the Diversity Women’s Conference at Grandover last year, nuggets that helped you frame this blog post. Well done!

    Keep up the insightful writing and stay the course. The spoils go to the ones who dare to show up when everyone else has thrown in the towel.

    Stay strong. Live well.

  3. HI! Thank you for first reading and second enjoying it! Yes since the conference I had an Aha moment! I realized that I never really fully understood the term and though I have all the characteristics of an entrepreneur and definitly the spirit of one, I’m just now becoming one. That simple yet important discovery really transformed my professional life. It is true when they say the truth shall set you free.

    At any rate, my goal with my writing is to challenge others to think outside the box. I hope to spark some disagreements mostly b/c I feel that’s where discovery, growth and innovation come from. I’m no expert, but I am a woman with insight, drive and a determination to succeed. Most importantly, I want to share the “truth” as I discover it so that other women can be empowered to be different.

    Thanks again. I’ll continue to follow you on Twitter and hope to connect with you in some capacity in the near future. (I’m a NC resident)

    Best,
    Katrina

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