On November 19th, the country celebrated Women’s Entrepreneurship Day as part of National Entrepreneurship Month in November. As the only women’s college and only HBCU to have a Small Business Administration supported Women’s Business Center located on its campus, we celebrate women entrepreneurs all year long.
This month, we sat down to chat with Lu-Ann Barry, Executive Director of The Women’s Business Center of Greensboro!
The Women’s Business Center of Greensboro promotes economic self-sufficiency for all women in the Greensboro, North Carolina area through entrepreneurship. They empower women by offering tools and support to establish businesses, stabilize their companies, generate sustainable profits, strategize for future growth and contribute to the growth and economic development of the community.
Bennett College: What does an observance like Women’s Entrepreneurship Day mean to you?
Lu-Ann Barry: It’s nice to have the recognition. Also, a part of me feels that we should be beyond the process of establishing a holiday for one day or a month to recognize the contributions of women. We do amazing work and should be celebrated every day.
Bennett College: What’s the most fulfilling part about your work at the Women’s Business Center of Greensboro?
Lu-Ann Barry: The most fulfilling part of my role at the Women’s Business Center of Greensboro is getting to build something from scratch and knowing that my journey as an entrepreneur – the ups and downs – speaks directly to the businesses we serve. More importantly, I always find joy in those ah-ha moments. Those moments when you see someone, after a consultation, realize their dream is a very big reality and even larger than what they originally imagined. Being in a position that helps someone win in their journey is what I look forward to every day.
Bennett College: While women’s entrepreneurship has made strides, what, if any, are some of the issues/ stereotypes you still witness/ experience?
Lu-Ann Barry: There are several issues faced by women entrepreneurs that need to be addressed. One is the lack of acknowledgment that women are truly powerhouses in their own right. Even though people are screaming it, it’s still not being embodied. Two, although a woman business owner is and/or may be perceived as strong, it doesn’t mean she’s invincible. As women, we are strong in order to do what needs to be done. However, we still need help and the support of networks that will allow us to take the armor off.
Three, we are still blasting through glass ceilings every day. The opportunities are limitless for us, so stop limiting us.
Bennett College: If you could pick the brains of any 3 female entrepreneurs, who would they be and why?
Lu-Ann Barry: Taraji P. Henson. Tabitha Brown, and Rihanna; each represents a part of my journey, each reflects who/where I am now, and who/where I hope to be later.
Taraji is super sassy. Her personality illustrates the silent part of me that most people don’t realize exists. She is as beautiful as she is smart. She is very strategic about her business and her brand. Before becoming an actress, she almost became a cosmetologist. However, her extensive knowledge of hair is what led her to create her [haircare] brand. To me, she embodies entrepreneurship. And I’m growing into someone like her.
Tabitha is authentically and unapologetically who she is. She’s a beautiful example of all the parts we play as women – a wife, a mother, a daughter, and more.
Rihanna – because she’s Caribbean like me. She’s not just breaking the traditional rules, she’s creating new boundaries and playing the game the way she wants to play. This inspires me.
Bennett College: Which 3 habits do you believe all successful female entrepreneurs should adopt?
Lu-Ann Barry: 1 – Sufficient sleep! You have to sleep and know when to shut it down. Identify what self-care means for you and make it a priority.
2 – Stop saying I’m sorry or my apologies. Find something else to say. You can acknowledge a mistake or disruption in a matrix or some miscommunication, but stop apologizing in emails, especially when it’s not warranted.
3 – Be strategic. When you are strategic, you eliminate the waste of time and money, and you limit chaos; this helps establish and maintain boundaries.
Bennett College: Which resources do you suggest female entrepreneurs make use of to stay up-date with industry news/ best practices?
Lu-Ann Barry: Entrepreneurs should be continuous learners. This doesn’t (always) mean going back to school and getting another degree; it means taking advantage of several resources including reading popular business journals or newspapers, listening to podcasts, and learning from professional networks to stay up to date with trends in their respective industries. Whenever possible, take advantage of free consultations and free trial periods for new tools and technology to identify what’s going to add value to your business and add value to your life.
Bennett College: How can aspiring entrepreneurs get involved at the Women’s Business Center?
Lu-Ann Barry: We encourage entrepreneurs to subscribe to our newsletter and to follow and engage with us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter). Reach out. Ask questions. We’re always looking for new entrepreneurs that we can highlight in the community.
LinkedIn: Women’s Business Center of Greensboro