IGNACIO – The Women’s Small Business Conference drew about 200 businesswomen Friday to Sky Ute Casino to attend presentations, network and learn new business practices.
The conference, hosted by Colorado Business Development Center, was centered around the theme, “Break through to excellence.”
Breaking through to excellence means finding ways to bring businesses to the next level, said Mary Shepherd, deputy director of the Southwest Colorado Business Development Center.
“The more you learn to refine and develop your business, the better a business you’ll run,” she said.
The morning portion of the event was dedicated to presentations and workshops hosted by industry experts. Topics included cyber-security, social media and making a pitch for funding.
One session focused on financial forecasting to better manage money.
A strategy given by presenter Terryl Peterson was to hold onto cash flow for as long as possible. For instance, it is OK to wait to pay a bill as long as it is paid before the deadline, she said.
Peterson owns a business of her own, Terryl Peterson CFO Services, which provides consulting to businesses. She says the size and remoteness of Durango can be a challenge for businesses.
“Durango struggles with people who are here who start really awesome businesses and then they kind of outgrow Durango, the resources become constricted, and they end up having to go somewhere else to continue their business,” she said.
Another session focused on the health and wellness of a business and its employees.
Things that promote employee wellness include the right balance between work and personal life, opportunities for advancement, and benefit packages that include health care.
In turn, satisfied employees are more likely to be more productive and less likely to leave the company, said presenter Jamie Hackbarth.
In a way, businesses can be connected to social change. One way businesses are doing this is by providing paid parental leave. Unfortunately, paid parental leave is not offered enough, Hackbarth said.
Shepherd mentioned the impact small businesses can have on local communities.
“A lot of people want to have a business with a social mission, but running a strong business is a social mission,” she said.
“It generates revenue and jobs for our community, sales tax revenue, which helps pay for infrastructure. So when you run a successful small business, you’re actually giving back to your community.”