Empowered Lab Owner Organizes First Meeting of PhXX Forward to Help Women Business Owners

Members of Phoenix groups will collaborate to help women business owners and their second meeting is scheduled for Sept. 11.

Phoenix, AZ, August 20, 2015 --(PR.com)-- Phoenix is home to a tremendous group of successful women business owners. Yet one local business owner, Kristin Slice of Empowered Lab Communications, noticed that women business owners are nowhere to be found in local headlines about the economic future of Phoenix.

Twenty years ago in Phoenix, the options for networking and connecting with other women business owners were very limited. “We have reached a tipping point,” explains Slice, who is also a board member of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Phoenix Chapter. “We now have a number of women’s business groups and a strong community of women business owners. We need to organize and determine how we can achieve more through collaboration.”

First, Slice reached out to Audrey Iffert-Saleem, the executive director of entrepreneurship and innovation initiatives at Arizona State University (ASU). Together they reached out to local women’s business organizations and leaders in the community and simply asked, “Should all the organizations that support women business owners try and get together?”

The response was overwhelmingly positive and more than 30 women met recently for the first PhXX Forward event at SkySong, hosted by ASU’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Other groups represented were NAWBO, Ellevate, the Small Business Administration, the Maricopa Small Business Development Center, the Women’s Education Foundation and Seed Spot.

“My hope is that PhXX Forward will enable organizations like Ellevate Phoenix, that have made a commitment to support women entrepreneurs in Arizona, identify ways our group can add substantial value to the community--while not duplicating important work being done by other professional women’s groups,” says Kathy Lynn-Cullotta, president of Ellevate Phoenix.

In the last year, research constantly shows two things, Slice explains. First, women-owned businesses are a powerful growing force in our economy. The Wall Street Journal reports, “Women consistently have been launching new enterprises at twice the rate of men and their growth rates of employment and revenue have outpaced the economy.” The second is that there are still major gaps and challenges that women-owned firms face that need to be addressed.

“In Phoenix, I work with powerful women who want to get their business past the $1 million mark,” she continues. “However, resources such as access to capital are still lacking for women business owners.”

After the initial meeting, Slice drafted her recommendations for the group’s structure to start the discussion online. Already feedback and ideas have started pouring in. Further discussion and decisions will be held at the next meeting on Sept. 11.

Recommended structure: Leadership from various organizations in Phoenix that have a vested interest in the advancement of women owned firms will meet quarterly with regular communication in-between meetings.

Internal objectives could include:

Meetings will be inclusive of all voices, positive and focused on moving women business owners forward.
We will share national research on women business owners and best practices for how to economically empower female-led organizations.
We will share updates on our organizations and their initiatives to help leverage efforts and prevent overlap.
There will be open discussion about the challenges that women business owners and the organizations that support them are facing.

External objectives could include:

Financial and business resources should be going equally toward female and male owned businesses.
Data should be tracked on Arizona women business owners and their economic impact.
Female and male entrepreneurs should be equally represented at events and in media stories.
Benchmark goals should be set to measure effectiveness.

“Finding a way to start gathering data will be imperative,” Slice says. “Having an active voice in what data will be gathered will also ensure that we have more applicable data to women business owners.”

Traditionally, economic impact has been mainly tracked by four factors: jobs created, sales, businesses launched and capital. PhXX Forward members say they need that data separated by demographic variables including gender. Currently, the majority of quantifiable data separated by gender focuses on participation. Consistently women business owners cite that the challenge is not a complete lack of resources. The challenge is a lack of quality resources as well as sorting through them to find a resource that is applicable to them. Arizona could join the national leaders that are now encouraging a focus on effective impact versus participation numbers.

“As we continue to discuss and develop objectives for PhXX Forward, I hope we are able to find a simple innovative call to action that will be the gateway to achieve all of the above objectives,” Slice says. “It will not be without its challenges. All groups face opportunities when dealing with community organizing, limited resources and complex social issues like gender. However, I am positive that in a community that has created female leaders that have shattered other much larger barriers, we can create great things.”

For more details and to provide input about the PhXX Forward objectives, visit http://empowered-lab.com/a-collaboration-of-organizations-committed-to-phoenix-women-business-owners/#sthash.3bMZr9mY.dpuf.

In addition to the Sept. 11 meeting of PhXX Forward, NAWBO Phoenix (www.nawbophx.org) is hosting a panel discussion featuring several of the participants of PhXX Forward on Sept. 9. For more information, contact Slice at Kristin@empowered-lab.com or 602-499-5607.
Empowered Lab Communications
Laurie Anderson