Don’t go it alone.
That’s the advice Leslee Hill, director of the Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center, or WEOC, gives to women who are looking to build a business.
“There are so many people who want to help you,” says Hill. “Use them.”
The WEOC was founded three years ago in Fort Wayne and advances women in business by emboldening them and helping them to maximize opportunities to start and grow their businesses.
With The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center, or The NIIC, serving as the host organization, the local WEOC is one of just two U.S. Small Business Administration-designated Women’s Business Centers (WBC) in Indiana.
“That’s a big deal,” says Hill. “It connects us to more than 100 WBCs, all formed to level the playing field for women business builders. We help them advance past the challenges of starting or growing their own businesses. We spur them to fully explore their business ideas, develop their business plans and build confidence to be successful.”
The local WEOC is one of 113 WBCs across the country and offers its services to women in 16 counties in northeast Indiana and along the I-69 corridor.
Once a woman contacts the organization, she is paired up with a WEOC coach.
“Our coaches are business owners who understand how to navigate the entrepreneurial landscape, start and grow a business and surround clients with emotional support as well,” says Hill.
Since its inception, Hill and her colleagues have seen dozens of business dreams come to fruition for local women.
“It is so exciting that we have many wonderful success stories,” says Hill. “One example is Shruti Sharma. She is the co-owner of ‘Sustainable Thinkers,’ an online marketplace for eco-friendly merchandise. Shruti came to us with a concept earlier this year. She needed help implementing it, as well as finding a tech co-founder. We connected her with a potential partner and it was, as the saying goes, a match made in heaven. The two are off and running!”
Hill is proud of that story and the ever-growing list of accomplishments of the WEOC.
“Over the past year, we have: Grown our offerings to include Masterminds (mentoring groups), launched the Women Business Builder Program and intensive workshops; Provided mentoring through media with our Getting Vulnerable and Going Strong production; Continued to provide exceptional one-on-one coaching that revolves around accountability.”
Hill appreciates the fact that starting your own business can be intimidating, but she says putting it off won’t make it any easier.
“Don’t wait until you have ‘enough’ in the bank. You will never have enough. Just as waiting for that right time or enough money to have a baby – you will never have enough. Sell first, then produce.”
Phone: (260) 407-6442