SMOKEY POINT — “There’s enough pie for everybody, so I don’t worry about competing with men, or with anyone other than my own personal best,” Kim Thompson said, as she mingled with other women in business at the second annual WISE Women Business Showcase on Jan. 14.
“At the same time, I’ve had to balance my approach,” she added. “My kids were younger when I started out, so I had to grow my business more slowly, planting seeds. Fortunately, I have a supportive husband, so while he was the mainstay breadwinner before, now it’s me.”
Thompson and other businesswomen appreciated being able to browse through more than 40 business booths, twice as many as the Medallion Hotel hosted last year, and network with their peers. They also cited the skills and knowledge they’ve picked up from attending meetings of WISE, which stands for “Women Inspiring Successful Entrepreneurs.”
Thompson has been a loan originator in Snohomish County for 10 years, most recently for PrimeLending in Marysville. She’s been a member of WISE since its inception two years ago. She touted women as “a formidable force” in business, but conceded that they often have to pace themselves in how they grow their businesses, because of their other responsibilities.
Thompson credited the WISE mantra of “per my mission” with enabling her to prioritize her efforts.
“What I’ve learned from WISE is that I have time for what I have time for,” Thompson said. “I can choose where I put my energy. Rather than overextending myself, I can say no to certain things. I have permission to take care of what really matters ‘per my mission.'”
Kim Reynolds just started the Living Room Coffee House in Marysville four months ago. She became a member of WISE shortly after they began meeting at her coffeehouse in November, and she’s already learned from the group.
“I have to multitask with a capital ‘M,'” Reynolds laughed, as she acknowledged the challenges of raising four small children and maintaining a household while also serving as a pastor at the Hillside Church and running a coffee shop. “I have to keep juggling all these balls, but the WISE mastermind meetings have helped me think it through and offered alternatives.”
Reynolds acknowledged that her business’ startup costs were more than she anticipated, and credited WISE with suggesting methods of paying down that debt, ranging from gift certificates to soliciting donations.
“Since I’m a nonprofit, they pointed out that I shouldn’t be ashamed to accept donations,” Reynolds said. “I wouldn’t have been that bold, but they really encouraged me to be honest and open about where I’m at and who I am.”
Cindi Pedersen, who’s been working with Mary Kay out of Marysville for 25 years, believes in WISE so much that she serves as its membership coordinator. Although she emphasized that it’s not a networking group, she asserted its value in connecting women in business who otherwise work on their own.
“If you’re running a home-based business like mine, you lack a lot of opportunities to engage with like-minded people,” Pedersen said. “We face many of the same challenges as other business owners, only we don’t have any coworkers to bounce ideas off of.”
While networking groups afford their members chances to ask questions of each other, Pedersen appreciates WISE for offering what she sees as more genuine interactions.
“You don’t have to have your game face on here,” Pedersen said. “You can come without feeling like you have to present yourself as perfect, and ask for advice without feeling embarrassed.”
For more information, log onto www.AreYouAWiseWoman.eventbrite.com.