National Business Women’s Month- Salute to Working Women

Have you reached a road block in your career or small business? Is it time to reach out for new ideas and new contacts? Are you balancing your work and family and stretched for time? As a working woman, the South Carolina Women’s Business Center and the Center for Women can help you be more successful.

South Carolina Women’s Business Center
Women are starting their own businesses at unprecedented rates.  Between 1997 and 2011, women owned firms in South Carolina increased 64% and that’s compared to the national average of 50%. Women have great business ideas and know what women want to buy. Women control 80% of all discretionary spending and women are inventing new products and services that better match their needs and expectations.

The South Carolina Women’s Business Center offers free one-on-one business counseling, training workshops and networking opportunities for women entrepreneurs and small business owners. Launched in January 2012 as an off shoot of the Center for Women, the South Carolina Women’s Business Center has counseled 73 women and conducted 34 training workshops attended by over 1,800 women. In its brief existence, it has helped save or start six businesses. According to Christie MacConnell, Director of the South Carolina Women’s Business Center, “I’m thrilled over the rapid success we’ve experienced and I’m excited at the prospect of connecting even more women entrepreneurs to the tools and resources that they need.”

Each month, the South Carolina Women’s Business Center holds an Entrepreneurial Readiness workshop where women can learn about the key ingredients that go into being a successful business owner and understanding the steps necessary to launch a viable business. The Entrepreneurial Readiness workshop is a great starting place for any woman who has a business idea to get a solid grounding before embarking on her new venture. Additional programs include a monthly networking session where women can learn and support each other and a development workshop on specific topics such as commercial insurance, legal structures for business and human resource policy. To learn more, visit www.scwbc.net.

The South Carolina Women’s Business Center has strong community support. Our 2012 Business Partners are Eckert Insurance, First Federal, Merrill Lynch, SC Biz News and Weightwatchers. The South Carolina Women’s Business Center is supported in part by grants from Bank of America, Wells Fargo and the US Small Business Association.

Women’s Leadership Institute
For women who work in business and industry and want to increase their chances for advancement, the Center for Women created the Women’s Leadership Institute. Monthly Saturday programs are held on topics that prepare women for stepping into greater leadership roles and higher management. Topics this year have included: Leading with Strength and Confidence, How to Use Persuasion and Create Influence, Handling Promotions with Poise, Using Polarity Thinking for Enlightened Leadership, Networking with a Purpose, Working Well with Difficult People, Getting Comfortable Negotiating What You Want, Delegating Effectively, and Communicating with Impact.

Several large, bell weather companies in our area, Alcoa, Cummins and MeadWestVaco, have seen the value of these leadership programs and the chance to let loose the talent residing in their female employees. The Women’s Leadership Institute brings programming on-site to these companies. According to the MeadWestVaco Women’s Network, “Our MeadWestVaco Women’s Network fosters both personal and professional development and helps build critical “soft” skills that are important to develop oneself and others and to inspire leadership.  The Center for Women has greatly aided us with that mission. The Center has connected us to local experts and has helped us build effective programs tailored to our needs. Using the Center has allowed us to capitalize on the tools and resources that have already been established, and ultimately has allowed us to enhance and broaden the programs we are able to bring to our members.”

The Women’s Leadership Institute is honored to be supported and sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Care for Life, Ms. Rose’s Restaurant, Fork Fine Gourmet and Skirt! Magazine. To learn more, visit www.c4women.org.

Ginger Rosenberg is the Marketing & Program Manager at the Center for Women. She can be reached at ginger@c4women.org.

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