What does your business do?
Women TIES (which stands for Women Together Inspiring Entrepreneurial Success) was created in 2005 to help women entrepreneurs expand their local, state and regional marketplace in New York. Although the company is 6 years old, it was founded by Tracy Higginbotham, who has been promoting women entrepreneurship for over 16 years as women were just beginning to consider entrepreneurship as a popular career option.
Women TIES believes strongly in the buying and selling power of women so we have created an extensive website with extensive profile listings, photos and branding opportunities for our members. We also host three to four events per month in six active regions across New York encouraging women to travel to meet each other and open up their marketplace regionally and state-wide. Women TIES has a both a Speaker’s Bureau and Regional Marketplace online so women can increase their revenue opportunities through online stores and speaking engagements. We have a very popular blog and weekly e-newsletter called the “Wednesday Wisdom” that inspires and educates on a weekly basis. We also have inspirational podcasts.
What made you decide to start your own business?
I became an entrepreneur in 1995 when I started my first company – an event management company called Five Star Events which is still in existence. Although I came from a family of entrepreneurs, I never thought I’d be an entrepreneur until my first son was born and I wanted to “create a professional life” for myself using my career expertise in event planning so I could be home with my sons more and still work.
I created Women TIES ten years later after being a President of a non-profit women’s business organization I helped grow from 8 to 150 members in 9 years as entrepreneurship became more popular. My true passion for helping women entrepreneurs in this role became evident to everyone who knew me so I stepped down from that position and created my own company to address the requests of women all over the state to help them expand their marketplace. I didn’t want to just serve women in Syracuse, New York but all over the state.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
The biggest challenge came two months after starting the business. I had planned the first event and had to cancel it due to low attendance because women business owners who knew me from my other leadership role in the organization I was President of for nine years didn’t understand why I would leave that organization to create my own company. They also didn’t understand the distinction between that organization and my new company. It took a lot of public relations and communications along with a strong belief in myself and my vision to keep going and to “stay the course.”
How did you overcome these challenges?
A key component to overcoming the challenges came from an advisory board of other women entrepreneurs I created to help me lead my company. I selected older, more successful, and more experienced women entrepreneurs as my counsel. When times were tough, they gave the perfect advice to keep me going. They pushed me harder than I would have pushed myself. They made me take bigger risks. Their belief in me and my vision lead me through many challenges.
What advice or tips would you give to other business owners?
I always tell women starting out that it is going to take 3 hard and long years of extensive PR, marketing, and networking to make a company financially successful. Women have to work hard every single day. If they do and market consistently, they will discover they turn away business around the 3 year mark. It was true with both of my companies and with most women in my organization.
What’s your favorite quote?
“I believe in the buying and selling power of women” – This is my own quote and it’s how I live my entrepreneurial life.
My second favorite quote is “If you don’t try, you can’t fail; and if you fail, get right back up and try again.”
Third favorite quote “Well behaved women rarely make history”
Who inspires you?
All the phenomenal women entrepreneurs I have met for 16 years promoting women entrepreneurship. I love their spirit, their fortitude, their belief in their futures. I am motivated and inspired every single day by the conversations I have, the women I meet at my events, the women who become Women TIES members. My company is successful because other women believe in, and live out, our corporate mission every single day. They truly inspire me.