As we close out the year, I’ve been busy with clients ramping up for 2019. In reflecting on what I’ve been able to accomplish this year, I’m proud of a few goals I’ve achieved and am setting some new goals for 2019 myself.

  1. One of my WBE clients has closed business with a new corporate client as a result of our working together.
  2. 12PointFive clients at the WBENC National Conference and Business Fair averaged 3 matchmakers with corporate members.
  3. I’ve expanded training offerings to include content for general diversity and inclusion, sexual harassment, and strengthening a supplier diversity program.
  4. Perhaps most exciting, I was awarded the 2018 WBE Connection Award for Done Deals with WBEs in the DC region. Not only is the award beautiful but receiving it was a milestone for me. As someone who worked for WPEO for nearly a decade, being recognized by the organization was a real honor and incredibly emotional. I loved seeing people who I’ve known for almost 2 decades cheer me on.  It truly is wonderful to be part of the community.

So how much business did I do with WBEs? The Done Deals award recognizes the support I’ve provided for WBEs as well as my spend and I’d like to concentrate on the second number here. As much as I encourage people to #buywomenowned, in a recent meeting with a CPO, I pointed out my challenges as a small business in increasing my own spend so I thought I’d share these numbers here as a means of holding me accountable for greater numbers, and just as significant, greater impact in 2019.  I created the infographic above to review the numbers and my challenges. I’d love to hear about yours, too so feel free to get in touch.

The Numbers

In terms of WBEs and Women Owned Businesses, most of my spend was for legal and professional services including marketing and advertising and that amounted to 11.5% of my spend. Should be higher right? I’ll get to that in my challenges. One of my biggest spend categories was event registration which constitutes just under 8% of my total spend. Of that, 7.7% was spend on registration and support for WBENC and WPEO events. It is not direct spend with women owned businesses, but it is money spent on their behalf and since it’s my 4th largest category of spend, I thought it was worth including.  I was also able to spend 20.8% of my spend to ACT Intentionally, the WBENC term for doing business with the large companies that support and buy from women owned businesses.  For example, I was delighted to see on one of my Delta flights that the snacks were purchased from a women-owned company. All three of these categories adds up to 40% of my spend, which is OK but leaves some room for improvement.

The Challenges

I have had this conversation with clients before. As a small business and a consultancy, my spend on travel outstrips my spend in any other category by about 4x. The ratios will shift as the company grows but since I’m not aware of a women-owned airline (are you?) and it’s difficult to ascertain which hotels are women-owned,* I use this as an opportunity to ACT Intentionally with WBENC sponsors and corporate members.

Legal and Professional services is the next big category of spend and I’m able to do most of that with women-owned businesses. Yay!

The third largest category I have is office supplies and software, with an emphasis on software subscriptions – Microsoft Office, Quickbooks, and the other apps and tools that make my life as a small business owner easier. I would love any suggestions in this category for women-owned or diverse-owned businesses. I’d also love to find out if any of the apps I use do have women owners/founders/leaders and I’m just not aware of it. Another challenge is that, as another CEO put it, my chief role as CEO is to increase revenues and decrease costs.

The Goals

Without creating brand new expenses, then, I identified a couple of categories where I can make an impact and also count spend with other diverse-owned companies, such as those in the NMSDC, Disability:IN, and NGLCC networks. They are:

  1. Restaurants, especially in airports. I know that Cinnabon is woman owned but would love to know about other franchises.
  2. Software and applications specifically for small business owners. I’m not looking to develop my own applications but rather use applications that will make my life easier. Canva, for example, has a female founder and I use it regularly for design. Proposify is not women-owned but does make my proposal writing much easier.
  3. Networking with more entrepreneurs from NMSDC, Disability:IN, and NGLCC and supporting those groups in their missions.

I look forward to keeping up and keeping track of my spend over 2019. And, of course, I’ll be sure to report those Done Deals!

*Many of the hotels have franchises that are women-owned but they are very rarely certified. I saw only these in the WBENCLink Directory: The Inn at Hastings Park in Lexington, MA, Nemacolin in SW Pennsylvania, and 6 franchises in and around Edinburgh Indiana.