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Personality: Lee Brazzell

Spotlight on local president of the National Association of Women Business Owners

3/11/2016, 11:23 a.m.
Lee Brazzell is on the front lines promoting the interests of women business owners as president of the Richmond/Southeast Virginia ...

To become a member: www.nawbo.org/membership.

When and why the Richmond chapter was founded: Through events such as the Women of Excellence Awards and monthly meetings, NAWBO Richmond’s programs are designed to create business opportunities within the community; build strategic alliances through partnerships and networking; educate the public about women-owned businesses; influence public policy; present a united front; and promote leadership within the civic and business communities.

Why I am excited about NABWO: It is the only national women’s business organization that has just completed a study of woman-owned business in Virginia. More than 38,000 women-owned business owners were contacted for the study. The number of women-owned businesses in Virginia grew an annual average of 4.3 percent from 2007 to 2012. In 2012, the total number of paid employees in Virginia women-owned businesses was 270,683. It was expected to grow to 328,340 in 2015. The total revenue of all women-owned businesses in Virginia was $45 billion in 2012, accounting for 5.3 percent of all the revenue of all firms in the state. The main challenges of women and business in Virginia are in the areas of fundamental business operations, business development and access to capital. The impact of the study has far-reaching influences on public policy, capacity building and projects for women-owned business.

Involvement of NABWO in the community: Dress for Success, Toys for Tots, mentoring, and leadership development.

Status of businesses owned by women in Richmond area: Members are sole business owners that started their businesses from scratch. Women-owned businesses have been in the business an average of 11.9 years, with nearly half in the professional and business services sector.

Status of businesses owned by black women: Minority women are fueling growth in female entrepreneurship. The number of minority woman-owned firms in the United States more than doubled to 2.9 million from 1997 to 2014. The findings show that minority women have gone from one out of every six women-owned businesses to one out of every three. This kind of growth is something short of phenomenal, given that it has taken less than a generation.

Your response: Great, if the trend continues upward.

Government’s role in advancing women-owned businesses: To expand upon and help create successful programs and small business associations to assist women-owned businesses.

Advice to aspiring business owners: Believe in your business and show dedication to your business. Seek out leading experts who can help you grow in all aspects of yourself and your business. And be aware of the economic environment and how it may impact your business.

Pluses of business ownership: Owning a business gives you the ability to fully utilize your creative perspective for the business. It allows freedom of expression and innovation. It gives the owner the ability to identify opportunities that will allow them to innovate and reinvent their business based off their values. And it provides the ability to contribute to the community in a multitude of ways.

Minuses: Constant working on your business — and very little sleep.

Leadership is: Creating vision and inspiring others to work together to achieve a common goal or vision of the organization. It requires a delicate balance of respecting and encouraging members.