Attendees of this meeting included leaders of many organizations committed to female entrepreneurship, notably we were excited to have Barry Wong, the Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Equal Opportunity, join our meeting. Barry is reaching out to women business owners to help fill local governing boards with more business savvy diverse voices. He encouraged everyone to check out the extensive list of board openings to see if there is an area that you can serve.
I looked at the list. I promise you, there are a lot of opportunities out there. It is an excellent opportunity to reach out to women in your network and encourage them to step up.
Here is the link to the list: http://bc.azgovernor.gov/bc/boards-and-commissions-list
Rhonda Bannard with Inspired Connections and a serious advocate in our community was the facilitator.
We started by reviewing our actions to date and providing current updates on specific initiatives. All of the initiatives have been developed based on feedback provided by the 150+ stakeholders committed to Empowered PhXX and researched best practices from across the nation.
- We have completed a complete literature review of all the data and research regarding women business owners in Phoenix. That data was compiled into an infographic to help organizations share critical data on the impact of women business owners and help dispel stereotypes. We are in final design stages. Once the infographic is released on social media we encourage people to share the data and use it to market and advocate for their own organizations.
- From that review we have concluded that additional data needs to be gathered. We have put together a market research proposal. We are proposing the first comprehensive qualitative and quantitative analysis of women business owners, their needs and their experience of the Phoenix entrepreneurial ecosystem. The majority of our discussion on Friday revolved around this initiative.Here is the Market Research Proposal draft: EmpoweredPhXX-WBOMarketResearchProject_JAN25-VERSION2-2
- The National Women’s Business Council updated the entrepreneurial ecosystem map to include a few new categories including resources and community building. We have been using this map to help map our current resources and give everyone in the room a better understanding of the exact resources that is available in our ecosystem. Our goal is to increase collaboration and referrals. We updated the Phoenix map with the obstacles or challenges that we have identified locally and nationally.Review the map to ensure your organization is properly placed. Email Kristin with changes.Then take a look at the specific challenges listed in your area. Ask if your programs address the challenges specifically listed for women business owners?
- We have developed a unique communication campaign to link all of the women business groups, increase visibility and give women business owners an active voice in defining our community. Inspired by the success of the #yesPhX campaign. We are calling the campaign #ThisisPhXX, use this hashtag. Specifically we want women business owners to take photos of their business in action and post it using the hashtag. Organizations and other stakeholders can use it as a vehicle to share information and resources to women business owners in Phx … or PhXX.
- We launched a stakeholder survey. If you haven’t completed it please do. A major goal of this initiative is to provide our stakeholders with the tools they need to better meet their mission. We are using this information to steer our meeting agenda.
- The City of Phoenix has provided a list of investors and banking resources in Phoenix, which was a need articulated in our last meeting. Stacey Harris is heading up a committee that is discussing how Empowered PhXX participants can use this information, contact her with feedback and questions.
- We have a resource list for women business owners, available on Google Drive. A tool created by JP Morgan and US Source Link will be launched at Start Up Week that is designed to help entrepreneurs find resources. Until we see that tool live we are holding off on creating any further resources. However, we know that when women need resources they only go online once and once they get burned by the wrong tool they tend to rely on word of mouth. Our goal will be to equip the grassroots network of leadership with a comprehensive understanding of all of the tools available to help them better navigate the existing ecosystem. Feel free to add tools or update the resources list. Once we have completed the stakeholder survey we will be launching another survey to gather further details about the resources including regular events and programming, specific challenges they address (location on the entrepreneurial map) and what stage of business they specialize in.
- Empowered PhXX is an advisory board of stakeholders and community implementers. We have taken national best practices, the latest research on entrepreneurship and feedback to create a description of Empowered PhXX and an action plan to move women business owners forward in Phoenix. That is only half of our effort. As a group we represent the organizations and leaders that are making things happen. Your role is to provide feedback and to take the tools and ideas created within this group and implement them within your own organization to further your mission because it will take all of us making changes to reach our goal.
View our current draft of a description of Empowered PhXX: EmpoweredPhXX-Description_FEB1016-3
A New Business Lifecycle Model Bottom-line
During our meetings we have had many discussions about the challenges that women business owners have finding the right resource. On a national level, women business owners have often struggled with the same challenge. Research has shown a couple of reasons for this disconnect. One of the factors that contribute to this challenge is that business tools and programs are based on traditional “J curve” business model. startup life cycleThat model is based after mainly technology businesses that have come before, which roughly translates into businesses owned by white males. The result? Women end up in workshops that don’t serve their needs, wasting time and money on programs that are not in alignment with their business needs. It also makes it very challenging for resources that serve women business owners to give referrals and to collaborate because we don’t really have a great understanding of who fills what niche.
Long term, it would be ideal for resources to use tools that address many types of businesses. Until then, we can develop a more in-depth understanding of the diverse variables that define businesses so that we can provide effective referrals to meet their specific needs. In addition, as service providers we can be more precise in our marketing and communication and push others to do the same.
So we discussed a new model that we could all use to help us better understand what resources in Phoenix serve what types of businesses using a more feminine business model developed by Empowered Lab Communications as a base for its tools and training.
We added “titles” to the various stages that where reflective of diverse business owners experiences and added a few additional variables that we felt are important to consider when trying to match a business with a resource.
Entrepreneurial Resources Referral Variables
What other variables do you need in order to match a business up with the right resource? Should we add it to our discussion?
Data for the Survey
As mentioned earlier, we are in the process of launching the largest market research initiative on women owned businesses in Phoenix. So we wanted to open the discussion to the group for feedback.
What data points do we need to gather in the survey? What data would help you make better decisions about programs within your own organization? What data do we need in order to establish the impact of women business owners in Phoenix? What data do we need as stakeholders to ensure that women business owners are receiving the resources they need to grow their business to meet their goals?
Several great ideas came out, here is the picture of the board an abbreviated list:
Where are businesses surveyed in the business lifecycle? By sector? Have they received capital? If so from where and what was the experience? Why they started their business? What is the biggest challenges they face? How do they measure the success of their business? Where are they in terms of their own goals? Do they feel supported by our local ecosystem? How do they find resources? What has been their experience accessing those resources?
And many others….
The second major questioned we face is funding. We are looking to find a funder to cover a portion of the major research. We are also considering crowd funding a portion of the project as well. The research is integrated with a communication plan to share the findings and best practices developed from the data through a series of communication tools, events and public forums. We have outlined the opportunities and benefits to funders.
So the question is, who do you know that would like to support the next evolution of the Phoenix entrepreneurial ecosystem and the future of women owned businesses in Phoenix?
Finally, Rhonda lead us through an exercise where everyone in the room had to specifically say one thing they can do for a women business owner then pass a ball of yarn to another person. We created a web of connection, and hopefully a web of understanding that will strengthen the entire ecosystem for women business owners.
Moving forward we have goals inside Empowered PhXX participants and action initiatives to create change in our community.
For me, it would be easier to talk about action initiatives and outside goals, but the reality is that WE are part of the change that needs to happen. Every one of us supports women business owners in our own way. Whether that is formally through training programs, resources or informally as trusted advisors and referral sources, we are the people that make our ecosystem. It is complicated and there is no one magic bullet solution, but I know that the amazing women and men that are donating their time, insight and wisdom ensure that with time and hard work we can ensure that Phoenix is a great place to be an entrepreneur, no matter who you are.