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The Day Everything Changed: My Plunge into Entrepreneurship
5/15/2014 4:00:00 PM

There is a moment in time when everything changes….and a career change is necessary. It happens to all of us at some time – and for some of us several times in our lives. My change came when I decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship. I was tired of swimming upstream against those who were afraid to be change agents in the organization.

Over 8 years ago, I was excited about the prospects of being my own boss and the prospect of helping others. On the other hand, faced with such bleak statistics, I learned very early that I had to develop ways to overcome the barrier of entrepreneurship, knowing that it was not without sacrifice. My research from the US Department of Commerce showed that average sales for women-owned firms totaled $153,000 in 2007. This is only one-fourth as large as the average sales for men-owned firms, which totaled more than $612,000.

In trying to level the playing field I identified the barriers for starting my business, Diversity Search Group. One was the ability to locate new business development opportunities. Many competitors had long-term relationships with clients, but did not necessarily offer the quality that I could bring to the table. Unfortunately, longevity in relationships was valued more at this time than granting access to new businesses. Although I felt that I was not making any progress in growing my business, I had to “wait my turn”.

“Waiting my turn” gave me the time to not only reinvent my services, but also change my business model. I also had the opportunity to connect with other women decision makers and drivers, who have been instrumental in the success of Diversity Search Group. Many of these women were also in the process of growing their own businesses and careers, and knew of the struggles to overcome barriers and the male-domination in their fields. They shared with me their journey, their knowledge, and their struggles, and assisted me on my quest to make my company one of the most successful in the staffing services industry.

Through perseverance and favor, we have increased our sales revenue annually by 50% for the past three years. We are one of the largest diversity staffing firms in Ohio. Entrepreneurship definitely has its benefits, but there are barriers to overcome before the dream of starting a business can become a reality. First, we must educate ourselves on business principles and practices, develop skills, and most important, have the ambition to “go the distance”. For many, the ambition and drive is present, but the education and skills set is lacking. Although there are resources that can assist women in developing ideas and turning these ideas into real-life ventures, finding and obtaining these resources can be time consuming if employment and family are full time.

Many powerful women business owners and leaders reached out to me to share their knowledge when I first started Diversity Search Group. Now, I am reaching back and helping other women start or grow their businesses in my ‘L3Program’ (Lead, Leverage and Lift). I mentor young women interested in entrepreneurship, and train individuals on best business practices and principles. As I also struggled with business development when I started my company, I now help others in this field, including assisting in the review of business proposals, grants, and general business development.

I am hopeful that changes in technology, costs, and work-life balance will continue to inspire more women to seek better opportunities for themselves and for their families. Although I struggled in my first years of business, finding the right opportunities, and connecting with the right people, aided me in my endeavor. Starting a business can be full of barriers, but with hard work and sacrifice, these barriers can be broken.

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