helps small businesses attract and retain new clients, while also helping lift people out of poverty at the same time. Joanna Wasmuth is a nominee for NAWBO’s 2012 BRAVO Women’s Advocate of the Year award, and a recipient of the California Legislature Assembly’s Women’s Advocate certificate, in honor of her dedication as a business woman and her commitment to making a difference. This post was written in response to her nomination as 2012 Women’s Advocate.
Countless people have undoubtedly contributed to your success, confirming the old adage “it takes a village.” Usually that’s used to refer to raising children. But it applies equally to growing a business and strengthening the economy. Who was the first person who trusted you enough to hire you, even though you didn’t have a proven business track record? Remember the mentors who spoke words of wisdom into your life that led to better business decisions; the fellow entrepreneurs who cheered you on through the rough patches, when you weren’t sure you’d make it; and your biggest fans, enthusiastically believing in your ability to succeed? We don’t achieve our business success alone. It truly takes a village.
But why are you seeking business success in the first place? Is it merely financial, or is there something more? Could your business success help change the world? Not only for yourself, but also for others? I believe it can. I’ve had the privilege of spending time with entrepreneurs in over 50 countries around the world. Regardless of the culture, we all have a similar drive to succeed, provide for our families and hope for a better future. Financial success brings incredible opportunity. But money is just a tool. And it is there for us to use to live fully and make the world a better place.
Our “villages” are increasingly globally interconnected. My inspiration and motivation to succeed has come from women in Rwanda and Cambodia. My mentors have come from leaders in the UK, Australia and Canada. My supporters and customers have been local San Diegans. And the people I’m seeking to serve are all over the world. While we need to help our local community, it also makes good business sense to help people halfway around the world. What happens in Africa, Asia and South America impacts our business opportunities, our supplies, our oil prices, our financial returns. We can’t afford to only be internally focused. We must pay attention globally and help shape the future of our world.
In San Diego, we have the good fortune to live in a vibrant city that is teeming with all the ingredients for business success. We’re the fortunate ones. Most of the world does not have access to the solid infrastructure, natural resources and opportunities we do. I believe that gives us not only opportunity, but responsibility. To become the best and most successful we can be. But not just for ourselves – also for the less fortunate around us. For those who don’t have the resources, nutrition and education needed to rise above. When we flourish, we can help give a hand up to those who could also flourish if given the chance.
If you are in business in San Diego, you have an opportunity to both become an incredible success and to use that success to change the world. We must first step up to the plate and maximize the resources we have to become as successful as possible, since we can only give of what we have. In essence, “put our own oxygen mask on first.” Cultivate your own success by taking full advantage of village life. Join a group of like-minded peers who will inspire you to take bold steps and think bigger than you’ve ever dreamed possible. Find mentors who will model the ability to balance valuable input while trusting their intuition. Be vulnerable and ask for what you need from your champions and fans. They will undoubtedly surprise you with their loyalty and enthusiasm.
And then we must look around and discover who we can help succeed as well. My particular interest is in empowering women economically around the globe by providing microloans so they can grow small businesses. When a woman has financial resources, she is less vulnerable to the horror of human trafficking, and more equipped to provide a bright future for her children, free from the trappings of poverty. Like Serey, a determined mother I met in Cambodia. This enterprising woman received a microloan to open a metal workshop, and then started a small sewing business employing several women to sew together rags that would form the inside of car wash mitts to be sold in the USA. Serey’s hard work enables her daughter to be in school, protected from traffickers, and free to dream about one day opening her own hair salon.
Who will you help? Youth? Immigrants? Mentally challenged? Ex-convicts? A parent in poverty, like Serey, needing a microloan? The world has never needed you – and your success - more. Could you lend a hand of hope to someone in need? When we foster a culture of lifting as we climb, we benefit as individuals and as a community, both local and global. Given the challenges facing our world, we could all use a little help. Become an advocate for those around you, and see what exciting things begin to happen! Why not open the door of opportunity for someone, and lift as you climb towards success in your business this week.