Shaping the business industry for women
March is Women’s History Month. Now more than ever, women are helping one another to take a stand in the business world.
More than 11.6 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly 9 million people, and generating $1.7 trillion in sales as of 2017, according to The National Association of Women Business Owners.
This year marks the 100th year of the women's suffrage movement, and it wasn’t until the 1970s that women were able to own their own businesses. Furthermore, it took until 1988 for women to take out their own business loans without a male co-signer. The act that granted this right was known as the HR 5050: Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988.
During the fiscal year of 2017, 1,821 new women-owned businesses were added per day, according to American Express’ 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.
Here in Palm Beach County, a non-profit organization is working to keep that number up.
SCORE is the nation’s largest network of volunteer expert business mentors that are dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground. It’s provided education and mentorship to more than 11 million entrepreneurs, according to SCORE’s website.
The organization has roughly 60 volunteers in Palm Beach County that are dedicated to mentoring men and women entrepreneurs in order to help them turn their business dreams into reality. SCORE has over 10,000 volunteers nationwide.
SCORE is sponsored by the Small Business Administration, and mentors can connect and help clients through live webinars, interactive online courses and local workshops.
“Sixty percent of the people we mentor are women,” Irene Dec said. “We here at SCORE have a significant impact in helping them succeed.”
Dec is the current chapter co-chair of SCORE Palm Beach, and she’s mentored female entrepreneurs for the past five years. Over the course of her career, she’s gained 20 years of experience in technology and another nine years in international business.
“If you had a dream of who you could be or what you are going to be in the future, what would that dream be?” Dec asked.
For Nicole Rymer, that dream was a decade in the making. Growing up in a family of business makers, she was set on paving her own way in life.
“Working for myself has always been the goal and not working for somebody else,” Rymer said. “I have always been an entrepreneur at heart.”
With a long-term dream, Rymer reached out to SCORE and was paired up with Dec as her mentor.
“It was exciting for me because I was new too. Nicole was my first client,” Dec said. “As a SCORE mentor, we are there to help and counsel our clients so that they can be successful.”
Rymer’s goal was to create an online platform to share other women’s stories and promote fellow female-owned businesses. Dec helped Rymer map out what components would need to go into the site step-by-step.
“Having a mentor is huge. It’s key,” Rymer said. “Especially when you are a dreamer and you have this vision for your life or business, sometimes you forget you have to start somewhere and break it down and then go from there, and that’s what Irene helped me do.”
For Rymer, writing ideas down and speaking them out loud is what really helped her the most in bringing The Powher Hub to fruition.
“To be an entrepreneur you have to first know what your dream is and know your product well. Then you have to ask yourself, ‘What do I have to do to get there?’” Dec said. “You have to be creative, you have to take initiative and you have to be willing to get back up when it's not moving.”
After three years of hard work and planning, The Powher Hub opened for business in 2017.
“The Powher Hub came out of the fact that my grandma was a Holocaust survivor, so I grew up every day in Philidelphia listening to her stories,” Rymer said. “I truly believe that everybody has a story and that it’s meant to be told to other people.”
Since The Powher Hub’s opening, Rymer has received more than 400,000 views on her online talk show, “She Owns It!” The show is in its third season and features local businesswomen from all walks of life.
SCORE mentors women for free and for life, so entrepreneurs always have constant support in their journey.
“The fact that someone has an idea and has someone to help them walk through their business to help them get to where they need to be is so special,” Dec said. “As an entrepreneur, she had the idea, she had the passion, she had the commitment, she had the drive. She’s making it happen and I’m sure she’ll take it beyond where it is today.”
By Morgan Therrien