Tuesday, 31 January 2012 00:00

Women in Business: A Variety of Challenges Keeping Women Business Owners on their Toes

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Kellie Sherrill LBBJBy Tiffany Rider - Senior Writer

January 31, 2012 - With the economic recovery moving at a snail’s pace as 2012 gets under way, many small-business owners are concerned about keeping their clients, finding quality employees, marketing their business or just dealing with what continues to be a sluggish economy.

At least that’s the consensus of 15 local women who own or co-own their business. Some of the women are new entrepreneurs; others have been in business for decades.

In the first of a series of interviews this year with women small-business owners, the Business Journal posed this question: What is your biggest challenge moving your business forward?

Kellie Shelton Sherrill opened Knightling in May 2009 – in the middle of the Great Recession. Right now the company is a boutique design agency in Long Beach that offers branding, logo design and graphic design. But Sherrill’s goals are to expand it into a full-service, large-staff business that strictly focuses on websites.


“Every site that you do, you really have to dig in and research that industry, interview the owners and find out everything about what they do so you can pull out all that content and make it understandable, for somebody who has never met them before, in an online format,” Sherrill said. “In the future we hope to be a larger agency so that when they hear the word Knightling they instantly think, ‘I should get my Web site done by them.’”


Sherrill said the biggest challenge in her industry is battling the high level of outsourcing work to India. She receives e-mails and phone calls daily from companies in India that want her to outsource Knightling’s work. “They work for peanuts,” she said. “You could not go to school, get an education and have a full-time job for what they pay you. That’s hurting not only me as a small business owner, but it’s hurting all of the people who have this degree because the value has gone down. It’s hurting the kids in college who are coming out and looking for a job because a lot of the big agencies are saying, ‘We can get this done in India for cheap,’ which, if you’re just looking at your bottom line, makes sense. But if you’re looking at your community and all of the resources here, you’re really reducing the amount of local jobs for skilled, talented workers.”

The Center for Women’s Research cited that, as of 2008, 10.1 million U.S. firms were 50 percent or more owned by women, and women-owned firms made up 40 percent of all privately held firms in the country. Last October, the center conducted a survey of 145 women business owners and asked several questions related to challenges faced and efforts taken to improve business.

When asked what changes they have made to better position their business for the post-recession economic upswing, the majority of women said they created a new product or service to diversify the business or began new marketing and advertising campaigns for the business. Other women business owners implemented or upgraded technology, while fewer invested money in the business or hired new employees.

Regardless of industry – be it financial services, retail, real estate, healthcare, marketing, design or manufacturing – slow-moving economic growth is keeping business owners on their toes.


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