Picture a meeting room holding about 50 entrepreneurs. The noise level is a low roar as conversations overlap onto greetings and handshake introductions, “elevator” speeches and business card exchanges. The businesses represented are as varied as Web design, commercial cleaning, engineering, and mortgage banking. These small business owners graze the hors d’oeuvres, patronize the bar, and network like crazy. They are all ages, nationalities, and races. Oh yes, and they are all women.
You’ve just entered a NAWBO meeting. The National Association of Women Business Owners was formed more than 30 years ago, and today it is the voice of America’s 10.6 million women-owned businesses. That means that nearly half of all privately-held companies are at least 50% owned by a woman or women. They account for almost $2.5 trillion in sales and employ one out of every seven workers in the U.S. I have trouble wrapping my brain around numbers like that, but you get a sense of the power in the room when you see the leading corporations, banks, publishers, and educational institutions that support the local chapters.
But the best thing about NAWBO meetings is the people. The energy is contagious and empowering – I leave each event feeling I can handle anything. I’ve always been grateful for the welcome extended to me years ago when I stepped tentatively into my first NAWBO wine-and-cheese event. The faces have changed, the chapter has evolved, but the acceptance and encouragement are still there every time.