02/02/17: Forbes: An Owner's Guide To Creating A Business Succession Plan

By Geri Stengel

An exit strategy is how entrepreneurs and investors transfer ownership of their business to a third party, or lays out how they will recoup money invested in the business. You may want to be acquired by another company, do an initial public offering (IPO), sell to employees or keep the business in the family. For many of you, the plan is simply to liquidate the company or close its doors.

For those of you who are considering passing your business on to your children or to other family members — whether they run the business or not — this article is for you. Family businesses comprise 90% of all business enterprises in the U.S., and 62% of total U.S. employment.  

Susan Michel, founder and CEO of Glen Eagle, a broker-dealer and investment advisory service, not only advises clients on succession planning for their businesses but she’s done it for her own business. Here are six tips she shared.

  1. Start planning for your succession early

When Michel started Glen Eagle, she wasn’t thinking of establishing a family legacy. Initially, the goal for Glen Eagle was to provide supplemental income so the family could take vacations. But the values of the company resonated with a segment of the market and it grew because they, like Michel, believe:

  • There is a higher purpose to money than just increasing it.
  • Wealth management can help you fulfill your dreams, which often revolves around relationships and family.
  • Your business helps you serve others, including clients, employees and your community.

“When the company became profitable, I realized that I needed to develop a succession plan to protect my family and employees,” said Michel.

  1. Form a posse

She formed a team, like the ones she participates on for clients, that included an attorney and an accountant who helped her figure out her strategy. If you’re not a financial planner, you want to have one on the team. You may also want to have an executive recruiter who can help you develop a formal process for evaluating internal and external talent as well as develop a training program for the successor.

Your advisors help you evaluate whether you have the talent and interest in the family or not. “Having outsiders provides objective insight,” said Michel.

  1. Identify your successor

You may dream of keeping your business in the family and passing the torch on to a child or family member. The reality may be that no one in the family has the interest or talent to take over the business.

Not to worry. If you choose to turn over the management of the company to others, there are financial structures, such as trusts, that can provide for family members.

As teens, Michel’s four kids helped with shredding and filing. As they got older, they helped prepare Excel spreadsheets. She discussed the business around the kitchen table. Her kids enjoyed giving their advice. She never imagined that they would have an interest in becoming financial advisors or coming into the family business.

Now that her children are adults with careers in the legal and financial services industries, they’re all on the family board and are a huge asset. After graduating from Yale, her youngest son, Robert worked at Morgan Stanley and is now going for his MBA at Wharton. He expressed interest in working in the firm. It is likely he will take over the business.

  1. Prepare your successor with training

Determine the critical functions of your business and have your successor work in each. Technology is critical to managing clients at Glen Eagle  With his big-firm experience, Michel’s son is well suited to managing this area and is already contributing significantly.

01/19/17: Do you want to gain regional and national recognition as an award winner?
The WPEO annually recognizes outstanding WBEs, Corporations, and Advocates in the WPEO NY and DC regions. The 2017 WPEO Awards will be announced and presented at the Annual Awards Breakfast on March 3, 2017 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City.
We invite you to apply for this year’s awards!
The 2016 Awards applications include:

The Outstanding Corporation Award

Recognizes a WPEO Corporate Member that has contributed to the WPEO, has supported women in business and has developed innovative resources and initiatives for supplier diversity. Two winners are honored: one from the WPEO-NY region and one from the WPEO-DC region. Corporations may nominate themselves.
Click here for Application

The Outstanding Women’s Business Advocate

Recognizes an individual who has contributed to the WPEO and has been especially supportive of women in business. You may nominate yourself or be nominated if you are either a Corporate representative or a WBE. Two winners are honored: one from the WPEO-NY region and one from the WPEO-DC region.
Click here for Application


Completed Applications should be mailed to:


Attn: Awards Committee

155 East 55th Street, Suite 4H

New York, NY 10022


Applications can also be sent via email to:


All applications must be received by Wednesday, February 15, 2017     

01/03/17: Supplier Diversity and Sustainability: Inclusion and Engagement—Game Changers/Bridge Builders

By: I. Javette Hines


This article focuses on Supplier Diversity and Sustainability as areas of interest and curiosity. Many articles have been written about both topics, which have been
subject to compliance considerations and mandatory requirements over the past 40 years when trying to assess business value. However, the more practical approach is
to recognize both not simply as another area of evaluation and compliance, but instead as an opportunity to improve business value and ensure sustainable business practices.

Supplier Diversity—The Program

The practice of inclusion, utilization and advocacy of diverse and small business suppliers in servicing supply chain requirements is referred to as supplier diversity.1
As a practice, it is focused on a process that is rooted in procurement practices. Suppliers must meet general requirements including size, scale, and scope, as well as meet the needs of business for the type of supplier. In order to be considered diverse, a fi rm must also typically show that it is owned, managed, operated and controlled as “diverse” per standard definitions. Supplier Diversity is a business imperative that has been integrated into the fabric of entrepreneurship for many decades via the concept of developing “small businesses.”

In the 1970s, President Richard Nixon’s Executive Order 11625 recommended additional actions be taken to suggest programs and goals for the development of minority businesses.4 The term “supplier diversity” was coined sometime after this period. It gained traction in the years to follow as inclusive procurement practices evolved and expanded to include business owners beyond the minority business community and consideration of majority ownership, management, and control of the business as a deciding factor.

The Benefits

Suppliers interested in doing business with larger corporations and agencies should be cognizant of their priorities. While there is no guarantee of a contract or long-term business relationship, the creation of a sustainable business is at the crux of the value and benefit of supplier diversity programs. Supplier diversity programs create access for diverse businesses and provide education and training to sustain them. Programs have evolved over the years with the founding of organizations that serve to support diverse
businesses. These include membership driven organizations that promote the sharing of best practices, so that diverse firms get a better sense of what growth looks like, how success is measured, and real insights into what is required in the short and long term to sustain business.

Membership and direct engagement with diverse firms, agencies, academic institutions and corporations contribute to viable businesses being considered and included in the supplier selection process, as well as their ability to compete for opportunities. Ultimately, working with a wide range of diverse and small businesses creates business value and contributes to a stronger economy.


Firms that also incorporate sustainability into their business model are more likely to be innovative and, therefore, sustainable over time. Sustainability for some denotes a focus on the environment. For a growing number of firms, however, sustainability extends to suppliers and includes: 1) human rights and labor, 2) the environment, and 3) management of those efforts.7 Over the past several years, sustainability has risen as an important consideration. Greater emphasis will be placed on all suppliers to adhere to and comply with the sustainability expectations of their current and potential clients.
Many businesses have evolved and grown beyond the traditional “small business” designation.

Many have even moved on and become multi-million dollar—and in a few
cases, billion dollar—businesses. When this occurs, the intent of supplier diversity as an integrated strategic approach is met. But the criteria with which we measure and
evaluate success also continue to evolve. Sustainability has in its evolution increased in importance, driving a need for awareness as an equal partner in strategic thinking relative to the supplier selection process. Because of increased interest by customers, as well as regulatory agencies in supplier risk management, insight into the overall general health of the supply chains of suppliers has become very important.8 Corporations, for example,
are being asked with greater frequency to demonstrate and report on sustainability, increasing the need for all suppliers to speak to sustainability within their standard
business practices.

Click here to read full report.

Reprinted with permission from: Inside Newsletter, Fall 2016, Vol. 34, No. 2, published by the New York State Bar Association, One Elk Street, Albany, New York 12207.

12/06/16: Huffington Post:Why Consistency Is Key to Growth

By Janet Odgis


Consistency sits at the core of brands. No matter what the circumstances, the people behind the brand are expected to deliver the same experience or product; a can of Coca-Cola purchased in Tokyo should taste identical to one in New York City or London. With great brands, you know what to expect, and it is delivered time after time regardless of the location.


In creative fields, consistency is likewise important. A creative firm must also deliver consistent value on every job. That reliability becomes a distinctive factor in the relationship between firm and clients, resulting in smoother production and, often, repeat business. It ultimately creates trust.


But establishing that sort of consistency, especially in a firm with many teams working in parallel, presents a challenge. The firm must establish a process that’s systematic in its reliance on investigation, observation, exploration, refinement, & feedback. The creative firm must follow a set procedure.


Step One after the process is created and in place is education: everyone in the creative firm must learn and understand and agree to implement the system.


Step Two is more detail-oriented: procedures are discussed and fleshed out, including feedback loops, and contingencies with benchmarks, deadlines and goals.


Step Three involves the creation of a timeline, which must include not only sufficient space for the team to develop ideas, but also receive client input on the project in development. (The proposed pace must be manageable, but not so comfortable that the process potentially slackens from lack of momentum.)


Step Four is to keep track of your time and budget. Compare it periodically against your original expectations. This is important for future projects so you can measure the results and budget accordingly.


In Step Four, the firm enacts this process with clients. This could include planning timelines, and establishing a schedule of meetings for feedback.

Of course, this is easier said than executed. Creative work isn’t the most linear; it takes time, effort, and often a lot of decisions must be made. It is important to incorporate the possibility of client delays and lack of availability or consensus into your procedure, and build in time for additional meetings, setbacks, and brainstorming.


While establishing such procedures may seem like a lot of effort for firms that are (often) already time-strapped, the results can be worth it. Clients aren’t the only stakeholders comforted by consistency; it can also assure employees working at the firm. Solving problems consistently will open up a deeper client relationship and create the trust necessary to do even greater work for everyone.

11/03/16: Tai's Tips For WPEO Events

WPEO events are valuable tools that vary in size and purpose— they are all designed to help the female business owner. From intimate roundtable lunches with corporate buyers, to larger meetings with hundreds of buyers and other women entrepreneurs, these forums are inclusive and supportive.

My first networking event in New York City in the mid- summer was a real breakthrough for me. I had no clue what to expect. The place was packed. I didn’t know anyone except for a few faces I recognized from the WPEO website. I imagined there would be talk in some sort of foreign business language and I would be an awkward outsider standing alone. The butterflies were not flying in formation. (And where were my business cards?) I needed a glass of water, or something. Then someone from the team smiled at me and introduced me to others at my table. That really helped break the ice. Everyone turned out to be authentically warm and friendly. And I was not the only man there with sweating palms, either.

That afternoon, I listened to some great speakers from the corporate world as they explained how to capitalize on being a part of WPEO.
Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your next WPEO event:

1.Be sure to introduce yourself. Just say hello.

2. Not everyone talks about business, their company, or about themselves. Many people will introduce themselves, ask what you do, and listen.

3. When involved in a conversation, remember to smile. And don’t be afraid to excuse yourself when it’s time to move on.

4. Make learning your goal. The main purpose of any networking event, large or small, is to learn as much as you can from the invited speakers, as well as from the other attendees.

5. Connect comfortably with as many potential buyers as you can, but keep it light and friendly. For example: “Hi my name is _____. Here’s my card. May I have yours?”

6. When asked, learn to provide a simple, short, and concise explanation about what you do. Most people you meet will not be able to remember everything you tell them about your company. First impressions are vital. Then focus on follow-up.

7. Follow up with any prospect 24 to 48 hours after the event. Write a personal email saying that it was great meeting them at the event. Include a brief outline of who you are and when you plan to call them to see if they might have any questions.

8. Remember—you are not alone. Networking events force you out of your comfort zone. My first event was intimidating, but much of my fear was in my own imagination.

9. Don’t try to make too many connections in one day. Focus on quality, not quantity. And don’t feel defeated if you didn’t get everything you expected from any one encounter. A few awkward encounters are human and natural. Praise yourself for stepping out.

10. Ask questions. Visit the WPEO website. Attend the events as often as you can. Keep your face out there. WPEO is networking at its best!

Get WBENC certified, if you aren’t already. It is simple and straightforward:

1. Is your business 51 percent owned, managed, and operated by one or more women who are U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents?
2. Does your documentation reflect this?
3. Can you schedule a site visit for WPEO to interview with the female owner(s)?
4. Have you read WBENC’s Standards and Procedures?

It’s really that simple. And you’ll be able to enjoy all the advantages and opportunities that being certified can offer your woman-owned business.

Take it from this WPEO enthusiast—you’re going to love it. And they will love you, too!


10/03/16: WPEO Guest Blog: How I went from WPEO "fan" to all out "enthusiast!"


By Tai Aguirre

I am not a woman business owner. I am one male employee working for one great woman-owned company.

Realizing your dream of business ownership is no small feat. As 90% of those reading this blog can attest, regardless of your gender, you will face a lot of challenges. Capitalization, reaching your customers, branding, competing with the Goliaths, these are some of the minefields that may determine if your enterprise grows or folds.

The stats for failure are daunting.  I hope my experiences will offer you some helpful tips and insights on your road to success.

The economic impact of women-owned businesses account for about $3 trillion, creating and maintaining over 23 million jobs. That’s 16 percent of total U.S. jobs. These jobs sustain the individual worker, contribute to the economic security of their families and the economic vitality of their communities and the nation.

Discovering WBENC (Women Business Enterprise National Council) and the Women Presidents’ Educational Organization (WPEO), the regional partner organization that provides certification in the Northeast, helped to lift our company ship and continues to keep it sailing ahead. Moving and growing with WPEO can help you get successfully to shore, too.

Under the leadership of Dr. Marsha Firestone, (Founder and President) WPEO provides us with access to business opportunities, education, recognition, community, and much more.

Executive Director Keisha Blake, and her team have always been there for us.

Special note of thanks to Leandra Joseph, Assistant to Dr. Marsha Firestone, who
helped me through my first gigantic one-on-one interview with a very large buyer. It was a busy event. Right before I went into this interview, you caught the panic on my face. Thank you for that reassuring hug. I shone that afternoon!

*WPEO would like to thank Tai Aguirre of Divvy Engagement Solutions for providing this blog post. 

08/11/16: WPEO Guest Blog: 15 Lessons on Surviving and Thriving for Entrepreneurs


By Ivy Cohen

This year my small business celebrates its fifteenth anniversary. Pop open the champagne because we’ve beaten the odds.  According to Dun & Bradstreet, businesses with fewer than 20 employees have only a 37 percent chance of surviving four years and only a 9 percent chance of surviving 10 years.

This made me consider why some small businesses succeed while others don’t. Some may be a result of the experience and skill of the founder or startup team while others are heavily influenced by market factors, such as timing or chance.
Here are my top 15 lessons that have helped me survive and grow my business for the past 15 years.


1. Treat your customer’s business as your own.

Your time is their money so be efficient.

Many agencies use heavily designed presentations to report results or recommend strategies then bill the client thousands of dollars for design services. I typically supply these items in simple but detailed Word documents at no extra charge.

Additionally, in the event that there is a miscommunication, leading to either work done incorrectly or outside of scope, I swallow the cost of the extra work. I consider this an investment in our relationship and a learning experience.

2. Build and maintain a great network.

This will help you generate new business opportunities.

When the great recession hit several years back, many of my client contacts were laid off. I devoted several hours each week to help place talented PR and marketing professionals to find new positions. While this support was offered out of genuine concern for my colleagues, it has paid dividends with several new business opportunities coming from these past clients and colleagues.

Additionally, many of my former team members remain friendly and in contact as part of my business community. Some of my best client referrals have come from past employees.

3. Assemble a strong support team of talented professionals.

It takes a village to run a business so assemble a strong support team of talented people.

It is a pleasure and a professional asset to know a lot of talented people. I’ve built a modular team with experts dedicated to working with me on each client engagement. To make sure we are leaving no important ideas and opportunities on the table, I often reach out to other experts I know for functional expertise related to specific industries and business situations.

 Click here to read more.


*WPEO would like to thank Ivy Cohen,  President and CEO of Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications for providing this article.



03/16/16: How to Prepare for the WBENC Summit & Salute

The WBENC Summit & Salute is an annual celebration of WBENC Women’s Business Enterprise Stars and America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises. The Summit & Salute, which will take place March 22-24th in Phoenix, Arizona, features workshops, formal and informal networking, and the Salute gala.. It is a great opportunity to make meaningful connections with corporate procurement and supplier diversity professionals, as well as your fellow WBEs.

Below are some helpful tips for maximizing your time at the Summit & Salute:

  1. Go with a plan
    o Figure out who will be attending and who you want to meet. View a list of sponsors.
    o Determine which workshops to attend
  2. Do your homework
    o Research the corporations and specific contacts you hope to meet. Figure out how your company can address and fulfill their specific needs.
  3. Make sure the Corporate Members know your company
    o To ensure that the Corporations are well informed about the products/services provided by your company; register on the corporation’s supplier diversity vendor portals. The information that you provide will be available to the procurement teams for consideration.
  4. Bring plenty of business cards and collateral for your company
    o Be sure to bring a stellar one-page capabilities statement. This should include your primary expertise, proof of past performance, what makes your company unique and differentiates you from your competition, proof of your qualifications, and contact information.
  5. Do you have a 1:1 MatchMaker Session with a Corporate Member? See how to prepare for a MatchMaker Session here.
  6. Network with fellow WPEO-certified WBEs
    Each Regional Partner Organization (RPO) will be identified by a colored ribbon on the name badges. Seek out other attendees with the WPEO-NY and DC ribbons to network with women business owners in your area.
  7. Follow up afterwards with your new or renewed contacts
    Include a reminder of where you met. Be aware that Corporate Members will be receiving numerous emails following the Summit & Salute, so they may not be able to respond to you immediately.

If you would like to attend the Summit & Salute and have not registered yet, please visit

03/03/16: New York Times: Government Meets 1994 Women’s Business Contracts Goal

By  Stacy Cowley

After more than 20 years of effort, the federal government has, for the first time, met its goal of awarding 5 percent of the money it spent on contractors to businesses owned by women.

Small companies captured 25.8 percent of the government’s contracting dollars last year, representing $90.7 billion, the Small Business Administration plans to announce on Wednesday. About $17.8 billion of that total went to businesses owned by women during the fiscal year, which ended in September.


Rebecca Boenigk, the chief and founder of Neutral Posture, a furniture manufacturer, brought in $7 million last year from government contracts and expects that to double or triple this year. Credit: Michael Stravato for The New York Times

The news comes on the heels of a Commerce Department analysis showing that businesses owned by women are 21 percent less likely to win government contracts than otherwise similar companies. Companies owned by women tend to be younger and smaller than other businesses, but even accounting for those differences, the disparity remains, the agency found.

02/22/16: WBENCLink As Your Resume

Once you have completed your company’s application, your certification can be an important marketing tool. It can be instrumental in expanding your company’s visibility among corporate supplier diversity and procurement professionals.

The WBENCLink database makes information about your company available to WPEO Corporate members and Fortune 1000 companies.

3 reasons to keep visiting the database:
• To find contact information for national and local WPEO Corporate and Government members
• To verify your company information is correct and up to date
• To search for other certified WBEs

In WBENCLink, WBEs are able to:
• Update company profile*
• Add/remove users
• Change user’s password
• Download and print certificate of certification
• Download WBENC Certified and Women Owned Logos
• Search for corporations & WBEs
• Start the recertification process

* While you can update most aspects of your company’s profile – there are a few items that can only be updated by WPEO staff, such as headquarters, mailing address and NAICS Codes.

Be sure your company’s North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and United Nations Standard Products and Services (UNSPSC) codes, with appropriate business description/keywords, are complete, up to date, and easily understood by someone who is not necessarily in your industry.

NAICS is a coding system which describes what the business does, while the UNSPSC provides a very specific product-centric viewpoint. To find a NAICS code that most accurately represents your company, visit:

Remember, the code entered in WBENCLink should represent the product/service that provides the predominant revenue stream for your company.

Helpful Hint: Do a search on WBENC Link to see if you can find your business using the most obvious key words. If not, add those words to your company description.

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