October is National Women’s Small Business Month, and a perfect time to celebrate the contributions women make to our economy nationally and right here in the Capital Region. Did you know that 40 percent of all businesses nationally are women-owned?* Those businesses support over 9 million jobs and generate annual revenues of $1.8 trillion.**
To celebrate National Women’s Small Business Month, we asked five women business owners their advice for female entrepreneurs, why they chose to do business in the Capital Region, and their hopes for the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.
What is your best advice for female entrepreneurs in the Capital Region?
“Align yourself with a team of driven, entrepreneurial people to help you make things happen. Try to trust yourself and settle into the ambiguity, twists, and turns that come with building and growing new things. And…hire women, pay them, promote them, refer them, and make business deals happen with them and for them.”- Devin Lemoine, Success Labs
“I would advise all entrepreneurs, especially women, to focus on defining and evolving the value that their business is offering, always differentiate their brand from their competitors, and continue to develop strong relationships. These three are essential for attracting the right target market, which in return will allow them to sell the unique value that they offer.”- Dima Ghawi, Leadership Speaker & Executive Coach
Why did you choose to do business in the Capital Region?
“The decision to stay and build a business in Baton Rouge was one that came easy. The entrepreneurial and creative communities are thriving here in the Capital Region and we wanted to be a part of that. We truly experienced this first hand when we launched our company, through the outpouring of encouragement and support we received from fellow business owners, friends, and creatives around the region.” – Caitlin Craighead, Cultiv8 Creative
“I was born and raised just across the river so doing business in and around the Capital Region was an easy transition. I’ve also seen how this community comes together in the worst of times and I am immensely proud to be a part of that. I can’t pretend we don’t have growing to do but I have seen great strides in a short period of time and will continue to support moving this city forward however and whenever I can.”- Chelsea Borruano, Gravel Road Marketing
“After resigning from IBM, I initially decided to stay in Baton Rouge because of the strong friendships and relationships that I built since I moved in 2013. I love the people and the culture here. Then, I realized that the Capital Region is like a perfect incubator for my business; it is filled with growing energy that is fueling my business as it is growing as well.”- Dima Ghawi, Leadership Speaker & Executive Coach
“With my background in Political Science, I have a natural penchant for all capital cities. The opportunity to serve our state during its most difficult time post-Katrina/Rita offered me the chance to build a company designed to support business, government and industry through a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity or to defend them in a crisis. With technology and transportation what it is, I’m able to work from a great place to raise my family, and work all over the world.” – Stafford Wood, Covalent Logic
What are your hopes for the future of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Capital Region?
“The entrepreneurial ecosystem we have here is made of up so many industries, talents, and years of experience. Let’s find a way to bring them all together. My hope is that we can develop a resource network for entrepreneurs to connect with one another, give/receive support, and share ideas and knowledge. How we do this could vary, but I think a local conference or online portal would be a great first step.” – Caitlin Craighead, Cultiv8 Creative
“I would love to see even more collaboration and diversity in local businesses. I am currently a one-woman show and let me tell you, it’s not easy. I am always looking for inspiration in others and I would love to see more entrepreneurs open to collaboration, especially with diverse and minority-owned businesses. Moral of the story, you can probably, eventually, do it alone, but why would you want to?” – Chelsea Borruano, Gravel Road Marketing
“I hope we keep working to get education and diversity and inclusion right in Baton Rouge. That will be key to building on the strong entrepreneurial base that’s been built here.” – Devin Lemoine, Success Labs
“I’m hoping for our region to foster communities focused on supporting and developing entrepreneurs. I look forward to the Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week every year, but there is nothing ongoing. I hope in the near future that there will be more communities for entrepreneurs to encourage and uplift each other as we grow our businesses.“- Dima Ghawi, Leadership Speaker & Executive Coach
“So much of our economy is made of government and higher education, we simply need more entrepreneurs willing to take the risk to start something new. I’d also like to see more young women entering business, tech and industry. Programs like Apprenti being brought to Baton Rouge by NexusLA at the Louisiana Technology Park are putting us on the right track to building a better ecosystem of entrepreneurs and trained workforce to support our future.”- Stafford Wood, Covalent Logic
* Women-owned businesses are defined as businesses that are at least 51 percent owned and operated by one or more females.
**“The 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report” https://about.americanexpress.com/files/doc_library/file/2018-state-of-women-owned-businesses-report.pdf This monthly blog series is intended to engage the small business community and enhance the region’s competitiveness by arming the small business community with information on regional resources and services and communicating important policy issues impacting job creation. Interested in joining BRAC’s Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council? Visit the Councils & Committees page for more information.