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March 2012

President’s Message – March 2012

There’s No Business Connection Stronger than NAWBO!

By Gail Zelitzky
President, NAWBO Chicago
[You’re in Business…I’m Your Coach!]

If ever NAWBO is going to be relevant for you, March, April and May are the winners! Following the successful Procurement event, these next three months provide unique and important ways for you to connect – with members, with community, with untapped markets. These 3 events, alone, provide reason enough to renew your membership, join for the first time or, simply to invite your colleagues and friends to check us out!
  • April 19 – Rub shoulders with the who’s who of women business owners, corporate partners, leadership, members at large and supporting partners at our 33rd annual Celebration of Achievement Luncheon at the Chicago Hilton & Towers – this year beginning at 8 am with an unusual education opportunity and continuing through the famous Chocolate Hour, immediately following lunch. Congratulate our Woman Business Owner of the Year and our Member of the Year. Be inspired by our famous speakers (shhh, they are still a secret). Plan to spend the full day – you will not regret it.
  • April 29 – Delight in being a Woman in Business, Helping Women in Crisis at our first ever Emergency Fund fundraiser. Bring your entire family to Viper Alley in Lincolnshire for an afternoon of merriment and music. Participate in our great raffle to help those in great need and take full advantage of the opportunity to connect with this fantastic charitable organization that funds 57 different charities, all without taking one ounce of recognition.
  • May 17 – Recognize that business today requires an understanding of all women in business and embrace this unique opportunity to connect, learn and grow. Our first cross-cultural event for women in business takes place after work at the Meadows Club in Rolling Meadows. This is the first symposium designed specifically for women who want to do business locally across cultures. We’ve assembled mentors from different sectors to educate and motivate all of us to broaden our thinking. This may be the most important 3 hours you spend in May.
Sponsorship opportunities are available for all events. Reservations can be made online now.
The deeper I get into my year as your President, the more I know that NAWBO is the best kept secret. We should easily have 1,000 members. If connections and relationships are the lifeblood of business, then NAWBO has it covered – all over the Chicagoland area.
  • Connect with us via NAWBO FaceBook, NAWBO LinkedIn, NAWBO List Serv (Google Groups);
  • Read our monthly Newsletter and bi-monthly E-Blasts;
  • Attend our members-go-free monthly meetings;
  • Join a free special interest group, business development group or other strategic forum;
  • Do business at the special events mentioned above, plus NAWBO Day in October and others throughout the year.
Our leadership devotes so many hours to planning, preparing and presenting these programs; it is hard to find a group more dedicated to providing value for our members. And they have businesses to run, too!

I always welcome hearing from you. I’d like to meet you at these events and get to know more about your needs from NAWBO. Can’t attend? Pick up the phone and call me. Women who own their own businesses have distinct needs. My NAWBO is your NAWBO. Together, we can, and will, make a difference.

Yours for strategic growth,

Pearls of Wisdom

By Melissa M. Lagowski
NAWBO Chicago Member
Owner, Big Buzz Idea Group

In honor of Women's History Month, NAWBO Chicago past presidents will share their "pearls of wisdom" with chapter members and guests. Featured panelists will include:
  • Michele King, Area Vice President, Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, Inc. at Premier Insurance Brokerage, Ltd
  • Hazel King, Founder, H.A. King & Associates, Inc.
  • Diana Conley, Owner, Advotek, Inc.
These respected past presidents will candidly share with members some of their most valuable business experiences and lessons learned. In addition, special guest Karyn Pettigrew of Beyond Blind Spots will be our featured "Empowering Entrepreneur" in March.

This event is FREE to members/$30 for guests. To reserve your space, click here. Space is limited, so don't delay!

Date:    Tuesday, March 13
Time:    8am to 10am
Place:   First Chicago Bank & Trust (A Wintrust Community Bank)
              1145 N. Arlington Heights Rd. - Itasca

Women Business Owners Tell All

NAWBO Chicago's Corporate Partner, Crain’s, will be hosting their 9th Annual Small Business Forum. The forum is a “tell all” for women business owners lead by a panel of women in a variety of industries, including NAWBO Chicago’s own President, Gail Zelitzky.

Panel Discussions:
  • Building and protecting your business reputation
  • Growing your customer and community base
  • Seeking opportunities for expansion
  • Measuring success
Session Moderator
  • Lisa Leiter; Anchor/Reporter, Crain’s Chicago Business
Panel Speakers
  • Mindy Segal; pastry creator, chef, HotChocolate Restaurant
  • Erikka Wang; co-owner, Akira
  • Genevieve D. Thomas; president, Awakened Alternatives Inc.
  • Gail Zelitzky; principal and founder, Silver-Robins Consulting
The event will include a coffee networking reception followed by the breakfast program, where a continental breakfast will be served. Please visit Crain’s 9th Annual Small Business Forum page for registration and more information on the event.

Date:     Wednesday, March 21
Time:    7:45 a.m.-10:00 a.m.
Place:   The Mid America Club
              200 East Randolph St., 80th floor - Chicago

Corporate Partner BMO Harris Offers Cash Flow Management Pointers

BMO Harris Bank News Release -- According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, only one out of every two new start-ups survives after the first five years of business. That means that half fail, many times due to financial missteps.

Cash flow is a major factor in a business’ success. Regardless of its size, a business’ cash flow drives everyday operations, expansion and purchasing power. As most businesses face continued unpredictability in the local economy, managing the ups and downs of cash flow can have a major impact on reaching future goals.

Few business owners realize what untapped–and often free–resources are available to help them manage finances and stimulate positive cash flow.

“Businesses – especially the more than one million small businesses in Illinois – are major contributors to our state’s economy,” said Margie Lawless, Senior Vice President of Small Business Banking, BMO Harris, “We feel a huge sense of responsibility in providing strategic counsel and vital financial tools that will help them grow their businesses and ultimately grow our local economies.”

To help businesses meet the challenge of effectively managing accounts payable and accounts receivable, Lawless offers five simple tips to get business owners on the right track in 2012.

Pay your company first. A cash reserve can go a long way in making certain that in times of low cash flow, you are able to continue day-to-day operations.

Create a budget and track expenses. Even if a business’ profit is more than the monthly expenses, it’s important to keep a budget and continually track monthly operating costs and income. Always knowing the state of your business’s finances allows you to spot red flags and issues before they become unmanageable.

Don’t let past due accounts slide. If you’re having trouble with receiving payment, re-invoice three to five days after the account is overdue. The longer a business waits to get paid, the less likely they are to receive all of the payment or even get the funds.

Focus on your largest debtors. Invoice customers who owe the most first.

Consider giving a discount for paying within 20 days. Depending on the nature of your business, it might make sense to offer a slight discount for those that pay by credit or debit within 20 days of the invoice.

In addition to cash flow management, financing can help provide business capital. Understanding financial options can help manage everyday expenses and purchasing needs. There are three primary ways to meet financing needs.
  • Business loans. For businesses that meet all credit and financial criteria, a conventional business loan allows for an infusion of cash that can allow a business to expand, buy necessary equipment or meet cash needs. SBA loans can be a great option for many businesses. For information on SBA loans, visit
  • Credit card. A business credit card can be used for everyday spending and has a set repayment schedule.
  • Credit line. A credit line can provide cash in a crunch to help cover the cost of operating expenses, unexpected expenditures or the purchase of additional inventory. A line of credit is not the right option for the purchase of capital assets, which might be better suited for a business loan. A credit line is great for purchases that are too large for a credit card but are not large enough to warrant a business loan.
Staying on top of finances can help a business run more smoothly, and using the right credit vehicles can assist with other cash flow options to fit individual needs.

“Women in Business Helping Women in Crisis”—a benefit dinner and concert.

NAWBO is excited to partner with the Emergency Fund to bring you “Women in Business Helping Women in Crisis”—a benefit dinner and concert. Now more than ever people in our community need help to stay in their homes, keep food on their tables and handle life’s unexpected needs. The Emergency Fund is there for people when they have nowhere else to turn.

Date:     Sunday, April 29
Time:    3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. (dinner and concert)
Place:   Viper Alley
              275 Parkway Dr - Lincolnshire
Cost:    $45

Entertainment by Blue Road and Chicago Women in the Blues
Featuring: Peaches Staten, Vivian Vance Kelly, Shirley King, Liz Mandeville and Donna Herula

To purchase tickets, click here
For sponsorship information, click here

We are so proud to support women like Christa through an amazing afternoon.

Christa is a single, working mother with eight years of experience as a teaching assistant in a day school for children with disabilities. Faced with an unexpectedly high heating bill, Christa had an unthinkable choice: her paycheck would not cover the bill and her rent. With the help of one of our partner agencies, the Emergency Fund was able to pay Christa’s heating bill in full, and Christa went back to concentrating on what is most important in her life—her children.

Without the Emergency Fund, Christa’s setback might have been the start of an unmanageable spiral of debt and dependency. Instead, the Emergency Fund intervened at the point of crisis and helped her family stay afloat.

Chapter Briefs

Congrats to NAWBO PAC chair Stella Black for her appointment by Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford to the state Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. It is one of the five advisory councils to help further the programs offered through the Illinois State Treasurer's office.

Stella also is a current candidate for Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

NAWBO Chicago Member Wins Athena Leadership Award
By Chris Ruys
Member, NAWBO Chicago
Chris Ruys Communications, Inc.

Hedy M. Ratner, NAWBO Chicago member and co-president of the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC), was a recipient of the 2011 Chicago ATHENA Leadership Award®. She received the award at an awards luncheon held recently at the Palmer House Hilton.

The award is given sparingly to those who demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession; provide a valuable service to improve the quality of life for others in their community; and who actively assist women in achieving their full leadership potential.

Hedy is co-founder and co-president of the Women’s Business Development Center, the largest, oldest—26 years—and most comprehensive women’s business assistance center in the United States.  The WBDC has initiated and helped develop women’s business programs in 14 sites in 6 states.  The Center provides counseling, training, financial, certification and procurement assistance in Spanish and English for emerging and established women business owners.

An advocate and activist for women’s issues for more than 40 years, Ratner was appointed by President Clinton to the National Women’s Business Council; by Illinois Governor Quinn to the Illinois Economic Recovery Commission; and by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley to the Affirmative Action Council.

Ratner helped to advocate for and create the Illinois Women’s Business Ownership Council and the Illinois Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women. She was subsequently appointed by Illinois Governors Edgar and Ryan to serve on those councils.  In 2002, she was appointed to the Illinois Development Finance Authority and the Illinois Business Enterprise Council.  She was appointed as co-chairperson of the Women’s Health Task Force by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and serves on task forces on minority and women’s business enterprise issues for the city and state.

For further information about the WBDC, visit or call (312) 853-3477. The WBDC is headquartered at 8 S. Michigan Avenue, 4th Floor, Chicago, Illinois 60603.

By Michele Katz
Chair-Member Benefits, NAWBO Chicago Member
Partner, Husch Blackwell LLP

Did you know…

NAWBO wants to leverage YOUR news? Take that article that quotes you or focus piece and send it to!  NAWBO will then highlight that news on the NAWBO Chicago website.  Why not get more mileage out of the work that has already been done, right?

You can add 9,000 women business owners to your personal network? That’s right! Take a look at NAWBO’s nationwide online membership directory. While there, take a look at the many national and local events.

We want to hear about your connections? Have you made personal or professional connections with other NAWBO members? Whether you found an accountant, officer materials or house painter through another NAWBO member, submit a few lines about that connection, send them to me, Michele Katz (email below), and expect to see your name and business highlighted in Connections Corner of the monthly e-bulletin. Another free benefit from your NAWBO membership!

Any questions about NAWBO Benefits, please do not hesitate to contact Michele Katz at

By Holly Kahan
Member, NAWBO Chicago
President, HollyBarry House Ltd. Of Chicago

Connecting Points Business Roundtable is a “think tank” format based on open expression and sharing between successful, empowered businesswomen.

Connecting Points was created to provide an opportunity to learn from one another and about one another.  Unlike a typical networking event where we learn about what we do, at Connecting Points we learn about who we are, how we think, and what our experiences have been.  Relationships will develop; and from relationships, comes business development.  We are all a contribution to one another in a format that is comfortable and casual.

Connecting Points are held on the 2nd Thursday each month and is complimentary to NAWBO member women business owners who want to make a difference.  Invite friends and business associates who aren’t a NAWBO member yet.  Have them come as our guest and check it out (limit 2 guest visits per person).


By Michele Katz
Chair-Member Benefits, NAWBO Chicago Member
Partner, Husch Blackwell LLP

NAWBO members are making business-generating connections every day. Read these recent examples of NAWBO members doing business with other members:

NAWBO member Michele Katz, intellectual property lawyer at the law firm of Husch Blackwell was in need of a certified translation for a key document in one of her cases. She employed the services of fellow NAWBO member Global Languages & Cultures, IncBobby Kang, Senior Project manager, quickly responded with reasonable turn around time and cost.  He returned professional work within the guidelines promised.  

Alecia McClung of ARO (Administrative Resource Options) and Janice Long of JanLong Communications recently worked together. Alecia was in need of a new sales brochure that she could leave with clients and prospects. She asked Jan to create the content for the piece. The finished product, which was a tri-fold brochure, turned out great! They worked together seamlessly and were both delighted with the outcome of the project.

Take advantage of this free PR and share your NAWBO connections! To submit your story, please contact Michele Katz.

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