May 1 was the first Women-Owned Business Day (WOBD). By all accounts, it was a huge success! UrbanGirl owner Dyan Condry and Marketing Coordinator Hannah Diamond were the driving force behind the event. In true grass-roots fashion, they galvanized other women entrepreneurs into supporting one another and other women business owners. How successful were their efforts?
According to their press release, 500 women owned business participated. Of those surveyed, 80% say they benefitted from the buzz generated by the event in the form of increased sales and greater social media engagement (they had a significant bump in followers on their social channels). Just as (if not more) importantly, those same women reported feeling more empowered and supported. 98% want to participate in future events. What does all this mean?
First, the event had a tangible impact. It affected the social media presence and the pocketbooks of those who participated. Second, it provided a much-needed boost to those women business owners that participated. They and the many others who patronized the participating businesses made a statement that where they spend their dollars matter. Yet there is a deeper meaning behind the event.
The Reason Behind It All
I may slightly offend and possibly alienate a few people with what I say next. If so, I apologize in advance. However, most people who know me realize that I’m about the most anti-“day” person there is. While I do see the importance of commemorating certain events on their anniversaries (like a wedding or the Memorial of Christ’s death), I don’t generally celebrate special days. “Yeah, but you’re one of Jehovah’s Witnesses; you guys don’t celebrate anything!” True enough that I’m a JW, and that in general we don’t celebrate many holidays. However, the first person I remember ever objecting to celebrating special days (Mother’s, Father’s, etc.) was my father – and he was definitely not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. His objection was we treated a person as special on that day when in fact those people deserve that type of treatment every day. I can relate to how he felt. So then, why in the world would I support the WOBD??
In her video introducing the WOBD concept, Dyan said the purpose was to highlight the discrimination women business owners experience when seeking funding for startup or expansion. That’s a serious problem, one that’s only entering the fringes of our collective consciousness. Thus, the WOBD has at least three significant effects:
- It boosts income. Since women business owners have to fund their own startups and expansions, it makes sense to send more business their way since they’ll need it to grow.
- It builds confidence. As noted in the press release, most of those interviewed felt empowered and supported by the event. That confidence boost may encourage them to tackle even greater projects in spite of the discrimination when it comes to traditional financing options.
- It raises awareness. This is the biggest benefit by far. As more people become aware of the present mindset, it opens the door to changing the paradigm. When those in a position to approve funding become enlightened to the discrepancy, whether they are women or men sympathetic to the situation, then real change begins.
The WOBD finds its roots in a very positive purpose, and that’s something I can support. Of course, like my father suggested, it’s not enough to remember women-owned businesses on just one day out of the year. However, if you use the day (and all the days thereafter) to build relationships with the women behind the business, that will have a profound effect on how you spend your dollars from that point forward. That was the real focus behind my first post on the matter.
So the first ever WOBD came and went and was a huge success for many. But was it one for you? Even though the day passed, it can still be a personal success. For one, if you’re a women business owner, get your business listed on the UrbanGirl Directory of Women-Owned Businesses by emailing Hannah. Additionally, get yourself listed as women-owned business with your local and state governments where possible. That may lead to opportunities you couldn’t receive otherwise. Most importantly, reach out to the women-owned businesses in your area and start building relationships. Whether you do it in person, over the phone, or online, it’s a start towards shifting the balance towards more equitable dealings for female entrepreneurs everywhere. Then they’ll be sitting pretty (like in the opening picture), and that’s the biggest win of all.