For women entrepreneurs, a way to Connect to More
The new Connect to MoreSM initiative links women business owners to mentoring, networks, and other support, encouraging them to invest in themselves.
For Ruby Taylor, a conversation with investment-savvy people in her extended network led to the idea of starting the Financial Joy School, a business that seeks to improve generational wealth for families of color. Her eventual experience as an emerging entrepreneur added to what she learned from the encounter: connections and social capital are vital.
“Starting a business will bring you down a couple of pegs,” Taylor said. “Thinking about all the resources that a business requires sometimes keeps me up at night. It is hard for somebody who doesn’t already have their foot in the door.”
Taylor’s efforts to build on her entrepreneurial skills led her to join the Milestone Mapping Coaching Circles, part of Wells Fargo’s Connect to MoreSM program that focuses on mentoring women-owned businesses and expanding on its specialized resources. Through a partnership with the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, women have access to hands-on help setting and reaching business goals from a network of peer-mentors as well as industry experts, with the goal of helping 500 women-owned businesses throughout the year.
“Mentoring women entrepreneurs and expanding guidance available through nonprofits in our Open for Business Fund can be game changing for small businesses.” — Jenny Flores, Wells Fargo head of small business growth philanthropy
“We believe there is growing need for entrepreneurs to have access to trusted experts who can help them solve business challenges, plan for the future, and grow,” said Jenny Flores, head of small business growth philanthropy at Wells Fargo, noting that the number of women-owned businesses has grown by about 20% over the last five years. “Mentoring women entrepreneurs and expanding guidance available through nonprofits in our Open for Business Fund can be game changing for small businesses.”
Wells Fargo’s Connect to More program will offer Milestone Mapping Coaching Circles throughout the year and into 2022. Born from the challenges of COVID-19, the Circles feature a facilitator-guided process for emerging entrepreneurs as they shape their vision, identify opportunities, and gain clarity for their near-term business priorities.
Taylor, who started participating in the program this summer, said she has found it “tremendously helpful.”
“I am a Black queer woman, so I can’t just walk into any room and be received,” Taylor said. Born and raised in The Bronx, Taylor’s journey to entrepreneurship was set back in 2012 when she suffered a traumatic brain injury from a car accident. She persevered through therapy and recovery to stay on track.
“This program now allows me the opportunity to walk into a room and be well-received, make connections, and get the kind of support that builds confidence,” Taylor said.
“Now that I have my foundation as an entrepreneur, this program is giving me the opportunity to engage, connect, and build the kind of community that is so needed when you are a start up.” — Ruby Taylor, entrepreneur
Each Circle is open to all women-identifying business owners in the U.S. and provides a biweekly opportunity for women entrepreneurs to work through specific challenges, celebrate milestones, attend workshops, and connect with small business experts and mentors.
Taylor specifically has appreciated what she has learned about marketing, social media, and other problem-solving strategies as she grows her business, which she started in April. After ruminating on what she learned from her encounter with finance-minded acquaintances, she identified her own knack for teaching others about investing. The business has since blossomed into a free financial education platform, including a series of educational blogs and seminars led by industry experts.
“Now that I have my foundation as an entrepreneur, this program is giving me the opportunity to engage, connect, and build the kind of community that is so needed as a start up,” Taylor said. “A great support base can really help keep business owners moving forward and keep going, no matter how many ‘No’s they may receive.”
What Milestone Mapping Coaching Circles offers participants:
- Two 3-hour workshops to strengthen your vision and set your business milestone
- Biweekly peer support groups
- Access to additional experts, including mentor recommendations through Mentor Makers
- Graduation and recognition across Nasdaq Center media and social channels
- Alumni networking
Eligible business owners interested in Milestone Mapping Coaching Circles should complete an application to be considered.