“There is Room for You”: Inspirational Advice from 3 Successful PA Female Entrepreneurs
Women are storming the entrepreneurial landscape and making it a space where others can follow. Since 1972, the number of U.S. women-owned businesses has dramatically increased from 402,000 to 12.3 million. According to American Express’s 2018 State of Women-Owned Business Report, between 2017 and 2018 alone, U.S. women started an average of 1,821 new businesses per day. Clearly, female entrepreneurs are a force to be reckoned with, but each business owner has different ways of achieving success. We caught up with three C-suite female executives of PA-based companies and asked them what advice they would give their fellow up-and-coming women entrepreneurs.
Donna Newell, president, NTM Engineering, Inc
Be prepared to juggle multiple projects and find ways to make it work.
I joke that designing the logo was one of the most difficult things to make a final decision on. The other struggles are related to all the [administrative] logistics that are handled for you when you work for a firm. We had to generate invoices and learn various billing processes (as each client has different requirements) and marketing, to name a few things.
In addition to the little things like who is cleaning the office, we had to take into account IT setup and file structure, website design, business licenses, and certifications for various state and federal work, which are important parts of running a business that they do not teach you in an engineering curriculum. We had to juggle this while we were trying to acquire and perform billable work.
Take supportive risks.
Be willing to take a risk, but also ensure you have a good support network. NTM has been successful because the four principals supported each other and were focused on the same priorities. It doesn’t mean we had the same opinion on every decision, but we are focused on the same values, ethics, and goals. We are employee-focused and try very hard to ensure our staff understand their contributions to our success, and that NTM’s success is a result of our entire team.
Bethany Edwards, co-founder and CEO, Lia Diagnostics
Pitch yourself, network, take advice, and utilize available resources.
Entrepreneurship in many ways is a trade that you learn by doing and with the help of others who have been there. We sought out lawyers, accountants, and mentors who have been willing to take the time to educate and foster an open environment for asking questions.
I entered every business plan and pitch competition I could find (Temple University’s Fox School of Business Innovative Idea Competition and BYOB [Be Your Own Boss] Competition, Small Business Administration’s InnovateHer competition, and University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School Social Impact Competition, to name a few). Our wins not only provided us with non-dilutive funding, but also exposed us to high-caliber networking, allowing us to connect with mentors, fellow entrepreneurs, and investors. In fact, I met one of our larger investors, Cindy Eckert who runs The Pink Ceiling, in an Uber Pitch competition — a pitch competition that took place during an Uber ride.
Find inspiration in your neighbor’s can-do spirit.
I grew up in Martinsburg, a small town in Central PA. I originally moved to Philadelphia for college and worked in or around the city since. Philadelphia is a city of “founders,” and there is still a unique, raw, and determined spirit here. I take a lot of pride in helping to grow Philly’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, as well as to represent and remind those growing up in small towns that you can turn big dreams into reality.
You’re a woman. Own it.
It is imperative for the world to have more female entrepreneurs. We need more women business leaders, inventors, scientists, designers, and engineers helping to decide and direct what to invest in, what problems to solve, and how best to solve them.
Anne Beiler, founder, Auntie Anne’s
Funding is great, but work ethic is greater.
We started Auntie Anne’s at a farmers market in Downingtown, Pa. My husband and I had no money or savings account to start a business. We lived paycheck to paycheck. We went to my father-in-law, and he loaned us the $6,000 we needed to purchase the market stand. However, an equally valuable resource was our work ethic. We worked endless hours with little time for rest and relaxation. Growing up on a farm taught us both the value of working hard and doing the job right.
There is room for you.
Be the best you can be, work hard, and offer your gift to the world. Be an example of great leadership, and others will follow your example. As a woman, you can influence others, and that’s how we make our families, communities, and our world a better place. There is room for you and your product.
Inspired to start your own business? Visit our the PA Business One-Stop Shop website or check out our 6 Go-To Resources for PA Women-Owned Businesses in 2019.
Anne Beiler began twisting pretzels in 1987 and grew a single farmers market stand into Auntie Anne’s Inc., the world’s largest hand-rolled soft pretzel franchise. Anne’s personal story and entrepreneurial insights have been featured on many television shows including Secret Millionaire, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Good Morning America. She has been highlighted in numerous publications such as Fortune Magazine, and Inc. Magazine. In 2005, Anne sold Auntie Anne’s and authored the business memoir, Twist of Faith.
Bethany Edwards is the CEO of LIA Diagnostics. Together with her cofounder, she created Lia, the first flushable and biodegradable pregnancy test. The Lia test received its FDA clearance in late 2017 and will be available later this year. Bethany is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Integrated Product Design program, and she is passionate about using innovative materials to create well-designed alternatives to single-use, disposable products.
Donna Newell, MS, PE, CFM is President and cofounder of NTM Engineering, Inc., a women-owned business that specializes in water resources, structural engineering, and course development and instruction. Ms. Newell graduated from Western Beaver High School in Beaver County, Pa. Ms. Newell earned her B.S. in Civil Engineering and M.S. in Environmental Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University and holds a Professional Engineering license and is a Certified Floodplain Manager. She has 25 years of experience performing hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, bridge scour analysis, waterway permitting, and floodplain studies.