I started my nonprofit consulting practice in February, 2014, and as we all know, leaving your full time job and becoming a sole proprietor can be a scary thing, even if you plan for the transition in advance. I had attended a few WBO meetings many years ago, and remembered what they were like, so my first course of action was to attend a meeting in March. I also attended other groups like chamber mixers, etc., but I kept coming back to WBO and realized having a stable group with core members adding new members all the time was much more beneficial for my personal and professional growth and I decided to invest more time in the group.
What I found very quickly was an organized, dedicated group of women (and men) who had lunch and dinner events (breakfasts too, but I didn’t attend those) that not only encouraged networking and relying on each other as resources, but also encouraged collaboration and had programs at events that were very informational and fun. Over time, I got to know several members and realized they could be my “brain trust” for practically anything I needed to move my business further without having to take quotes from strangers. There were lawyers, marketing specialists, web developers, graphic designers, SEO specialists, IT specialists and much more who were club members. So one by one, I met with them or called them to set up individual meetings as needed. With the member-to-member discounts, I was able to get what I needed done in an affordable manner, and with the comfort of knowing, “She’s got my back.”
At one point, a fellow member joked, “I think you’ve hired half of the club at one time or another!” Well, I didn’t go that far, (at least not all at once, haha) but here’s what transpired:
– I was writing a book and didn’t feel comfortable uploading the finished product to Amazon. I was discussing this at my luncheon table, and Wendy Howard was next to me and she said, “I can do that for you!!” Wendy, now our club President, was my vendor for that process. Whew. She did it quickly and in an affordable way, then trained me on how to make updates myself in the future. What would have taken me hours to figure out on my own, she had accomplished in a few hours for me.
– I needed a professional graphic designer to design the cover of my book, and Wendy said “call Hillary!” Hillary Coggeshall of Spark Design and I worked wonderfully together on that project and everyone who sees my book comments on the great looking professional design of the front and back covers.
– I needed to overhaul my self-made, rather sad-looking web site, and I needed SEO services. Doris Barber and Janet Chiu were my team for that project, encouraging me and showing patience by answering my endless questions concerning how I should write the content all along the way.
– I wanted to send holiday gifts to my clients. Laura Rhode advised me and took care of sending the gifts and my clients were very pleased. One more thing off my plate that allowed me to focus on business first!
– I needed to understand copyright rules for my business. Jamie Hamelburg put me in touch with a colleague in her office that specialized in this and saved me potential problems down the road.
– Rachel Werner of RBW Strategy is also a nonprofit consultant and expert grant writer, and we have developed a great professional friendship and have collaborated on several projects together for our clients.
– I attended seminars on marketing and social media conducted by Mary Jefferson and Roberta Biese and both either advised me or presented with me on starting my own seminar series for nonprofits.
Have I forgotten anyone? 🙂
Best of all, some members referred nonprofit friends to me who became my clients, as did nonprofit speakers at meetings. The cost/benefit analysis always led me to hire an expert rather than spending my own time learning new processes or doing everything myself thus taking away time from marketing and growing my business.
So, you see, WBO is this incredible fellowship of business owners – if they can’t help you, they will point you to someone who can. It’s kind of like counting on your sorority sisters/brothers, just with slightly less alcohol consumption. Well, once in awhile, maybe not. Just kidding.