The low percentage of women listed in Business First’s Power 250 inspired NAWBO Buffalo Niagara to spearhead the talk and invite panelists to answer the question why women are not recognized as “Powerful and Influential” in our community. The idea was to identify a path of action for women to be more recognized for their unique efforts and capabilities.
The panel consisted of Sawrie Becker, Executive Director of of the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women, who led the discussion and other prominent women – Sheri Scavone, P.T., EHSA; Executive Director, Women’s Foundation; Dottie Austin, Principle, Career Partners International; Sara Vescio, Executive Director Women’s Business Center, Canisius College; Tracey Drury, Reporter, Business First; Elizabeth Kraus, Senior VP and Sales Leader, Western New York, Key Bank N.A.; Katie Ellis, Business Banking Relationship Manager, M&T Bank.
The talk started around the statement that women might not be as influential and powerful in our community as we think, and because of that they lack optimal resources and connections to help expand and improve their business capabilities.
The discussion resulted in some valuable insights:
Too often, when women start a business, they lack the vision to see the possibilities beyond their own financial needs at the time. Setting goals to expand, taking risks to hire qualified people to take you to the next step and ways to increase visibility were highlighted.
Steps to improving your business and your sphere of influence require risk-taking. Mentioned were the following: defining influence in your way and how it relates to your business and strive to achieve that influence.
A business leader in this current environment needs to put herself out there. It might be exhausting in the beginning but the rewards are worth it. Dottie Austin emphasized the importance of giving back to the community in a tangible and visible way to help people realize you are more than about yourself. It’s a great and unselfish way to self-promote, to be a role model, and eventually mentor others.
While business owners might feel the stress of competition in the market place and constantly face a “to do” list that is never ending, Sara Vescio expressed how important it is to pat yourself on the back and tell yourself how awesome it is that you have come so far. Because to have started or taken over a business in the first place shows a confidence and self-reliance to be commended.
One of the reasons women make less money than men is their reluctance to ask for more. It works the same way in business. If you need help to start or expand a business, don’t be afraid to ask for help wherever you can find it. Bankers Katie Ellis and Elizabeth Krauss stressed the importance of being prepared with a viable business plan when going to the banks for a loan. They invited NAWBO members to reach out to them for advice.