What is FEMastermind, and what resources do you provide for local female entrepreneurs?
It stands for Female Entrepreneur Mastermind. We host small, peer-to-peer leadership groups. The members of the Mastermind group learn from each other. We just started in-person networking based on solid relationships and building those relationships over time. We’re all females, and most of us are mothers, and we’re running our own businesses. I’m looking at doing a mentorship program, which is kind of a higher level, you could say. It’s for businesses that have something that they need to accomplish within 90 days.
What’s your background, and how did that lead you to discovering the need for this organization?
I’ve always been into events – even when I was a small kid. I really wanted to be part of the planning process of large-scale music events, like Bonnaroo and Coachella. I started looking for jobs that would give me experience. I found a job that looked like a hotel banquet captain. It was actually a position as an events assistant in a corporate training organization called The Great Game of Business, which is the education wing of SRC [Holdings Corp.]. I didn’t really understand that I could maybe be an entrepreneur, but then I worked for The Great Game of Business, where we taught everybody about the financials of the business and I learned so much. I made really great connections. I worked for them for a decade. Then I had a family, and that was really the push where I was like, OK, I want more flexibility. I went to a female-only networking event hosted by a group in town, and I was very disenchanted by the event. I was like, man, it’d be really nice to have like a smaller group of women who get it, who understand what we’re doing and how we’re trying to get out of 9-5 and learn about what we could do as potential business owners. So, I made one.
How many people are involved in the FEMastermind group?
We reserve the Mastermind group for 15 people. We keep it small by design because it allows for more open conversation. We host a cohort every six months. We have 11 people in this group. We vote on the topics they want to learn about, and I go and I find out best experts to bring in that information on topics like overcoming imposter syndrome, understanding financials of their business, planning for business growth, setting boundaries in business, strategic planning, building a funnel in sales, utilizing social media, utilizing video content. That’s in the Mastermind private group. The Facebook group, I never expected it to grow as fast as it did. There’s people in there mentoring each other, getting advice, sharing, but I think it’s understanding that you’re not alone in the process. There’s a huge female entrepreneur community here. I get 10-20 new entries every week. I started it on Oct. 31 last year, and within six months, it was 1,500 people.
Startups accelerated during the pandemic. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 4.3 million new business applications were filed in 2020, an increase of 24% over 2019. What have you seen locally, and how has starting a business benefited the women you work with?
Society as a whole is changing a lot. And women are realizing there’s a lot more opportunity for us to do things the way we would like to do them, after working from home and realizing that they can manage a lot without being managed. A lot of people who went to work at home realized they had to be very resourceful for whatever challenge they’re facing. Why wouldn’t I create something for myself for a little bit more flexibility in time and stability in finances?
Do you have a vision for expanding the company?
This is a trial year. I really sunk my teeth in and tried to organize things people were asking for. The networking group is membership based. That was for people to access who maybe weren’t just ready for the Mastermind. And then the mentorship is the next step. My scaling idea was to see how this works, get some numbers, collect some data, understand the processes and what is actually needed in the area, and then pick that up and plant it in another city. I have friends who’ve moved all over the country who are begging me for a FEMastermind. My goal would be to have a FEMastermind in every city, in every state, in every country. I’m hoping to make some connections in northwest Arkansas. I feel like that area is up and coming with startups, and then Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia. I also have people asking me about rural communities (and) have been approached by quite a few women who would like a female-only coworking space.
Ariake Sushi and Robata opened; Great Southern Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq: GSBC) opened its newest branch in Springfield; and a longtime employee with City Utilities of Springfield went into business for himself with the launch of Van Every Drafting & Design LLC.