In the News

Introducing the NAWBO Iowa Business Institute

NAWBO Iowa is pleased to announce the launch of the NAWBO Iowa Business Institute. Registration is now open, and applications will be accepted through June 30, 2020.

The NAWBO Iowa Business Institute is focused on the ultimate goal of business growth by enhancing business skills, building like-minded connections and receiving education through engagement. The seven-month program will create a safe and confidential environment for open discussion and relationship building, and provide the opportunity to incorporate business planning and goal-setting.

“As we continue to grow NAWBO Iowa and provide increased value to its members and women business owners, this was a logical next step for our chapter — to create a Business Institute that combines the important aspects of focused education and networking, with the ultimate goal of empowering business growth,” says Donna Miller, Business Institute Co-Director and NAWBO Iowa Board Member.

The Business Institute is for women who own an established business that has not yet reached $1 million in revenue. Tamara Kenworthy, Business Institute Co-Director and NAWBO Iowa board member, says , “Existing programs tend to focus on start-ups or businesses over $1 million in revenue, but there is limited support specifically for businesses that are ready for the next level of growth — the ‘missing middle.’”

Members of the inaugural class will attend seven afternoon-long sessions led by fellow women business owners. Beginning in July 2020, Business Institute members will engage with other women around topics relevant to taking their business to the next step. This includes goal setting, financials, marketing, human resources, technology and operations. Members will also build relationships with fellow business owners in a safe and confidential environment.

“NAWBO Iowa members continue to tell us that they are hungry for expanded opportunities to connect and learn from each other,” Kenworthy says. “While program development has been in the works to launch this summer, the timing is even more critical as COVID-19 has created new challenges for all businesses. As business owners regroup and move forward to a new normal, this program will provide a great foundation for designing a new business plan or re-calibrating an existing business plan.”

The Business Institute is open to all women business owners, but NAWBO Iowa members receive special pricing and priority enrollment. Members will be assigned to one of two smaller classes — business owners with no employees, and business owners with at least one full-time employee. All members must have owned their business for at least three years and have annual revenues of less than $1 million.

The sessions will be facilitated by Monica Dolezal and Roxanne Pals. Dolezal is the owner of BIZSTARTS, LLC. She is a highly-respected trainer and facilitator with expertise in leading this style of programming, including sessions for the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC). Pals is the owner of 3Consulting, Inc. Roxanne is a seasoned trainer and facilitator helping leaders across a range of industries design and develop human-centered change strategies for organizations and communities.

“We know these are challenging times as we navigate COVID-19 — especially for solopreneurs and small businesses,” Miller says. “As we launch this program, NAWBO Iowa is committed to subsidizing partial tuition costs this first year, which has greatly reduced the cost per person.”

Tuition, which is valued at more than $1,500, is being offered to NAWBO Iowa Members for $700 ($950 for non-members). The registration fee covers programming, materials, and snacks/drinks. In order to maintain consistent networking and experience in each class, members must commit to attending all sessions. NAWBO Iowa will also select members from a variety of industries and ensure classes do not enroll direct competitors which allow Business Institute members to speak openly and honestly about their experiences.

To enroll, visit nawboiowa.org/businessinstitute. Additional questions about classes or enrollment can be answered by Tamara Kenworthy, [email protected]. To find out how you can support the NAWBO Iowa Business Institute, contact Donna Miller, [email protected].

Time to Reopen Your Small Business? How to Transition Safely

As of June 1, most businesses in Iowa have been given the go-ahead to again offer in-person services. This is requiring many to redefine normal. Each small business owner will have to define what is best for them. These tips may help you find what works for you, your team and your customers and clients.

Follow Guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend proper social distancing for all people, including while at work. Create physical and spatial separation between team members, as well as between your team and customers. Make sure your employees understand the importance of handwashing and disinfecting spaces, and make sure they have the tools, knowledge and confidence to do so consistently.

You can also take steps to ensure your physical space is healthy, including staggering shifts, adjusting your ventilation systems and water supply, and updating your tool sharing and visitor policy. The CDC also recommends reassessing your sick leave and remote work policy so employees do not feel pressured to return to work if they are ill and can immediately leave if they become ill. Your illness policy should be nonpunitive, flexible and ADA compliant.

Finally, check the Iowa Department of Public Health, the US Chamber of Commerce and your industry for guidelines specific to your workplace.

Communicate Your Plans

Telling your customers you are ready to see them again requires more than just flipping the “open” sign in your window or updating your website. How you communicate your reopening is a chance to make or break your relationship with customers. Your message should clearly and compassionately tell customers what they can expect from you and what you expect from them. Be aware that some customers may not be ready to return, so offer flexibility wherever you can.

You should also communicate your plan everywhere your customers connect with you in person, online or elsewhere. And, most importantly, practice what you preach — let your customers and clients see you are following through with enforcing social distance, cleaning and other practices.

Support Your Staff

It is more important than ever to show up for your team as an honest and supportive resource. Provide timely, regular updates that clearly communicate changes and how staff will be impacted. Check in and be flexible with employees who are likely dealing with concerns outside of work. When it is appropriate, offer resources and accommodate your employees’ needs. And, trust your employees — you hired them for a reason, let them know they are valued and respected members of your team.

However you choose to open, this time is bound to be challenging and uncertain. What can be certain is that the most successful small businesses will be those who can employ patience, flexibility and creativity. Skills we can all use more of when all of this is over.