Seizing Opportunity Amid an Uncertain Future
As executive director of weVENTURE, the women’s business center in Florida Tech’s Bisk College of Business, I have spent the better part of 2020 working with our staff to help small businesses navigate the coronavirus pandemic and its impact. I have been so inspired by the women we serve who have taken the uncertainty head-on.
One client responded to the pandemic challenges with renewed focus on the client engagement process that she honed through weVENTURE’s IGNITE 360 Business Mentoring Program. She and her staff continued to provide excellent customer service and make responding to customers’ needs their top priority. They have not lost any clients during this time. While revenue has dropped, she was able to apply for and receive a loan through the U.S. Small Business Administration to help her stay fully staffed until customer demand rebounds.
Then there’s Wendy Barnes, whose business, Wendy Barnes Design, relies on local markets and online sales of non-essential sewn items. Understanding the marketplace and the potential to capitalize on her extensive mailing list of customers nationwide, she saw an opportunity to pivot: a beautiful, handmade fashion mask with a filter pocket is now available among her products.
Following the recommendation of the CDC, these masks are a barrier for non-medical civilians to wear, and Wendy has experienced tremendous growth in the last few months because of this. A true entrepreneur, she saw a need and set about fulfilling it.
“Developing business acumen honed by the executive leadership training through WeVenture has given me the ability to make fast, informed decisions on whether an idea is plausible,” Wendy said. “Without the organizational structure and data now in place and available for me to analyze at a moment’s notice, a pivot could have been detrimental to my business in such uncertain times.”
Wendy is not alone. We had 14 women sign up in March and April, during the height of the pandemic, for a 12-week class designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs develop a business plan and build a foundation for the successful launch of their company.
For one entrepreneur, being laid off from her job due to the economic slowdown caused by coronavirus was a wake-up call. She wanted to have more control over her financial security and future. Armed with a business idea she had been thinking about for a while, she signed up and has decided to create her own future.
Our 2020 Goal-oriented Entrepreneurs Making Strides (G.E.M.S.) class will graduate at the end of July, and I am excited to see how their businesses will grow from here.
No matter what the world looks like these days, don’t be intimidated by the uncertainty. Don’t get stuck with your head down, wallowing in your own anxiety. Look up and find the opportunity to pursue success. A true entrepreneur is relentless and will not let anything get in her way — not even a global pandemic.
No matter what your business is facing, weVENTURE would be honored to help you work through this unprecedented time.
For more information, or to register for weVENTURE courses and mentorship programs, visit www.weventure.fit.edu or call 321-674-7007.
Kathryn Rudloff, executive director of weVENTURE at Florida Tech, has worked in strategic messaging, communications and fundraising for political committees and campaigns in Washington DC, California and Florida. Kathryn is active in the community, volunteering with the Junior League of South Brevard, MOPS ministry, The Haven for Children and Family Promise of Brevard. As an advocate for women and children and for her work in the political arena, she was recognized in 2017 as one of Brevard’s “4 under 40” leaders by LEAD Brevard. She and her husband, Alex Rudloff, have three young children, and enjoy travel and all things Disney.
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