I am often asked this question and to answer this, I have to go back to the beginning. In 1999, Julie, whom I affectionately call my “sister from another mother” and I decided to start our own business. I was recently married and had a son on the way. She had just adopted a daughter from China. We felt we needed to start our own business to be in control of our lives. We wanted work-life balance. We didn’t want to be stuck in Atlanta traffic commuting to jobs for more than an hour one-way when our families needed us. We wanted to be super moms and super professional women. We both loved the idea of using our gifts to help others make their big ideas a reality, so The Epiphany Group was born. We were very successful for 8 years and it was good.
Life happened – my journey took me to Iowa and her journey required that she refocus her attention on homeschooling and intense therapy for her special needs daughter. In 2008, it was in our best interest to dissolve The Epiphany Group and for me to work as a sole proprietor. Julie’s time was being consumed with her daughter’s needs and her position with the Attachment & Trauma Network. Her spare-time was also being refocused on lobbying and supporting other families with traumatized children like hers. By this time, I had already started teaching and doing corporate training all over the country and realized my passion for helping “people find their why” blossomed in an education setting as well.
In reflection – I found my journey as a woman business owner very challenging once moving home to Iowa. I was often asked when I was going to get a “real job” or was often asked “if I had gotten a job yet”. It made me questions if having my own business was even feasible or the right thing to do. I began to work freelance for several agencies around town, until one day, when I was swooped up by a law firm. I thought this was my chance to get a “real job” and finally put these people’s concerns to rest. While working at the law firm I became acutely aware the problem with women-owned businesses was a state-wide problem. Through organizations like the Entrepreneurial Development Center (EDC, Inc.), the the U.S. Small Business Administration and events like EntreFest and 1 Million Cups, I began to see others were becoming to bring awareness to the same issues that I had encountered as an entrepreneur. Iowa was LAST – dead last in women-owned businesses in the country. The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Iowa was out of balance and that was a problem.
So today – while Iowa has made strides and is no longer last in the nation, the struggle continues to increase the number of women-owned businesses in our state. A recent article in the CBJ quoted a study done by the Federal Reserve Banks, stated that women run one in five small businesses. It also shared that women are opening businesses at a rate of five times the pace of men, but are facing challenges and are navigating higher hurdles to success than their male counterparts. The Gazette article, Gender pay disparities, women in leadership and women-owned businesses worse in Iowa than many other states, supported the findings of the national report and summarized data of many well-respected organizations in Iowa trying to wrap their minds around the issues. These facts and studies left me in a restless state. My heart’s desire has always been to help others reach those goals and navigate the hurdles more gracefully.
My epiphany – happened when I was approached with the idea of starting again. The timing was right and through her encouragement and the support of many who believe in me, I decided to take that leap again. I feel armed with more knowledge of the hurdles, and I am ready to accept the challenge and start again. I realized that my epiphany was always to own my own business. It isn’t a “take two” or second generation of my business from the past. It is just Epiphany – your creative spark. A dream I just couldn’t let die – a vehicle to use the gifts we have been given to help others spark the next big thing.
I leave you with these nuggets:
- “When in the dark, don’t forget what you learned in the light!” Matt Manzari
- Don’t let fear derail you from following your dreams and reaching your goals.
- “They don’t call it a leap of fear, they call it a leap of faith.” Jon Gordon
- The statistics are just that – numbers from other brave souls that have gone before you.
- Make your own path.
- Take the fork.
- Be the light!
- Do what is right for you no matter the odds.
We look forward to working with you in the days, months and years to come.