Hundreds of women entrepreneurs could swap the secrets of their success and learn how to grow their companies at a master class in small business at Columbia University's student center. NY1's Money Matters reporter Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
It was non-stop note-taking in Columbia University's Lerner Hall, but the gathered women weren't college students but entrepreneurs attending a sort of master class in small business knowhow.
Spark and Hustle CEO Tory Johnson says the time is right for women to start companies of their own.
"After the last few years of the economy, I think everybody is so ready to take control, take control of their lives, take control of their careers, take control of their finances," says Johnson. "You sort of have to make it happen for yourself and one of the easiest and best ways to make it happen for yourself is through small business ownership."
Co-sponsored by Time Warner Business Class, a division of Time Warner Cable, the parent company of NY1, the event is the first stop in a 20-city national tour. The attendees represent all stages of the process -- some mulling over an idea, others looking to take their business to the next level.
Kara Anderson, the owner of the Maids On The Run, was inspired to run a business after she was laid off in 2008. She sent an email to everyone in her address book offering to clean their toilet for free as a trial offer.
"Now, we hit the half-a-million-dollar mark in sales last year and I have 12 employees," says Anderson.
Other success stories could be found on stage. Vera Bradley co-founder Barbara Baekgaard told the women to concentrate on what they are good at and when something is too difficult, get someone else to do it.
"Hire the right people to come in and help you," says Baekgaard. "Just get people that care about you and believe in you and bring them on board and see what happens."
While having a chance to listen to firsthand accounts from experts is important, participating entrepreneurs say they learn just as much from one another.
"It's a great networking opportunity, also. I think people can kind of congregate together and feed off of one another," says Jennifer Kent of Pedicure For A Cure.
"I just met two women out there totally unrelated to my business but we just figured out a way that our businesses can work together. And that was just in the first 10 minutes of walking around," says Janelle Butler of K.E.Y. Careers.
"The women in this room become one another's literally clients, customers, collaborators and champions and nobody can do it alone," says Johnson. "Everybody needs that system to make it happen."
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