I just returned from a gala luncheon given by NAWBO, the National Association of Women Business Owners. NAWBO is a terrific resource for women entrepreneurs. Our local chapter is supportive and helpful, as are all the NAWBO chapters.
Today's gala was held at our convention center downtown as a "Women Mean Business" luncheon. It was also our way of recognizing "Inspiring Businesswomen of the Year." If you are in business for yourself and you do not yet understand the power and necessity of belonging to networking groups such as this, let me tell you now that your business will never go anywhere without networking. Networking is effective 'word of mouth' advertising. And that is why I was at the luncheon today--to learn more about local woman-owned businesses, and to promote my book. I am pleased to say I accomplished both goals.
More importantly, I got to hear a speaker who could easily be the poster girl for hard-earned success. Our keynote speaker today was Kitty Van Bortel, owner of a Ford and Subaru dealership here. Yes, a woman who sells cars. Here was a woman who was told it couldn't be done-- then did it. A woman who met resistence with persistence, and won. A woman who scouted out the competition, knew she could do it better, and then went out and did it! To the dismay of all around her...except her Mother, to whom she contributes much of her success...she became so successful, her competition is still scratching their heads wondering how she did it!
Today Kitty is the top-selling Subaru franchise in the country! In 2001, she was hand-picked by Ford Motor company to become a dealer for them. Now, she is the top-selling Ford dealer in this area.
Read about her on her website and be sure to watch some of those videos.
I especially liked this note in her biography:(update: not sure it's there anymore but I like it anyway!) "How did this Kitty sell more new cars than the big, fat cats?" Answer: she did it despite discouragement, lack of cash, and the slings and arrows of the many naysayers in her life, by doing WHATEVER needed to be done. Working late, giving up eating out, giving up a social life, learning her business inside and out, and never underestimating her competition. In her case, their underestimating HER was their undoing."
It's a new world folks. Women are commanding power in ever increasing numbers, on and off-line, in business and in the non-profit sector. Take some advice from one Kitty who says that the word no just means someone's mind needs to be changed. Find out what it takes to change that no to a yes, and go for it. Kitty did. Look at her now!
Smart Kitty. Successful Kitty.