Earlier this month, entrepreneurs and Pathway WBC mentors Kia Jarmon and Rebecca Wood led a full house in an interactive evening here at Pathway for our signature networking event Power Surge. We were thrilled to see so many of our WBC cohort graduates turn out and to welcome newcomers too.
Power Surge is just one of the many events Pathway WBC hosts year-round. Pathway WBC is always sure to feature thoughtful panel discussions that provide entrepreneurs with a space to be open, honest and supported.
Kia, an award-winning entrepreneur and communications strategist who founded MEPR Agency, and Rebecca, a trailblazing construction entrepreneur and founder of Superior Traffic Control, Inc, shared the stories of their journeys to business ownership – the ups, downs, and obstacles they have overcome.
Putting Self First
In describing their journeys, Kia and Rebecca each acknowledged becoming a business owner challenges your self-concept and beliefs about what you can do and what you deserve, particularly when it comes to being the only woman or the only woman of color in the room.
Kia and Rebecca discovered they had developed similar strategies for embracing their differences from their partners and clients – they both deliberately highlighted them, Kia playing up her personal style and love of fashion and Rebecca her height.
Asked about overcoming ‘imposter syndrome,’ Kia emphasized the importance of cultivating bravery and shared a tip she’s relied on, advising “put the bravest person you know in your pocket. Being an entrepreneur can be scary and intimidating at times, but if you channel someone else’s bravery until you can lean on your own, you will continue to grow.”
Kia continued by cautioning it’s okay –mandatory even – for business owners to set firm boundaries and limits. “Know that you know your stuff, but more importantly, know that they know you know your stuff. You have to believe it first, so tell yourself until you do. Knowing how and when to say no will naturally follow.”
Placing Their Bets
Two decades into her career building and selling a thriving, woman-owned construction firm, Rebecca has turned her focus to mentoring and championing woman and minority-owned businesses. Reflecting on her early career, she confided “I knew nothing about owning a business, but I knew there was a need for traffic control in construction projects, I knew how to think, I knew how to put out cones and barrels, and I knew how to work, so I decided to bet on myself.”
Kia described herself as an entrepreneur first, detailing a succession of enterprises dating back to childhood. But it wasn’t until the forces of disruption brought a premature end to her career in music marketing that she followed her instincts to go out on her own. She has never looked back.
Despite having such different businesses, Kia and Rebecca agree that while it may take a certain amount of confidence to start your own business, taking that bet is a surefire way to grow in confidence both when you fail and when you succeed.
We’d like to give a special shout out to Pathway clients MooreSuds and GimmeSome Collective who joined us to listen, ask questions, and showcase their products! Andreall of MooreSuds displayed a variety of her products including handmade soaps and bath bombs, while Brittney shared cider and flavored water from Gimme Some.