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Kathy McShane has built a $6 million business around her passion. And she gives strong advice to other entrepreneurs who want to build businesses that live their values ​​every day.

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Kathy McShane has built her career around her love of making a difference. After working for American Express in product development and other areas, McShane started her own marketing company, Kendrew Group, in the New York City area. She ran it from her 1987 to her 2010, growing it into a $6 million company and was an adjunct professor at New York University.

McShane launched the groundbreaking group Ladies Who Launch, a membership organization that helped 8,000 women start and grow businesses from 2010 to 2017, and in 2018 became a member of the U.S. Office of Women’s Business Ownership. I was appointed as an assistant director. She worked for the US government for two years before she started her own consultancy. “My passion is helping women,” she says McShane.

As McShane found, budding entrepreneurs often benefit from a combination of technical assistance and mentoring. In the Office of Women Business Owners, McShane’s work focused on serving women who were initially thinking of starting a business. Helping them build confidence was a big part of this, as inequality can erode their belief in themselves as business owners.

“A lot of women say, ‘I don’t think I’m qualified,'” says McShane. “There are many situations where women are simply declining.”

McShane is also a staunch advocate for people with disabilities and announced her priorities and We talked about how values ​​drive her business. (Program video will be available here soon). After she contracted polio at the age of five, McShane has lived with problems affecting her walking. In her high-profile role, she had to overcome the discomfort some people feel when they see someone with a physical disability. It makes me uncomfortable,” she says.

Business ownership is ideal for people with disabilities, she says. “There are many positive emotional reasons for people with disabilities to pursue entrepreneurship,” she says. “You can really be you. You are worth it. I built my business around my values. You can do it too.”

Her advice to entrepreneurs with disabilities? “Don’t let other people determine your success,” she says. “I don’t define your success,” she says. “You define your success.”

Panelists shared many other insights that may be helpful if you are starting a business. Here are some important points.

Create a roadmap and follow it“I deliberately chose a business that knew what I was doing. It was marketing,” McShane says. As the main breadwinner of the household at the time, she decided it was imperative that she made plans for her business, and she settled the financial side of the business. “Otherwise, how do you know you can put food on the table?” she asks.

Check the reality of your business plan from knowledgeable people around you. McShane tended to be optimistic. When she asked for feedback on her plan, one of her advisors said she should increase her expenses by 30% of hers because that’s not going to happen. I remember that

Run your business according to your values. One of the reasons McShane chose to run his own business, after many years in business, was because he said, “I can only hire people who agree with my values. because,” she says.

One of those values ​​was to support women as part of a larger commitment to inclusion. “I felt that women struggled because we were the nurturers and caregivers,” she says. It was a tough place, but I gave them an environment where they could be themselves and celebrate themselves, consider the obstacles and challenges they might have, and see them negatively. Instead, I gave them an environment where they could focus on something they did particularly well.”

Make time for relationship building. “Relationships and connections are much more important than you think,” says Gustavo Serfafini, co-founder of Fort’s high-end equipment reseller Pure Audio Video. Lauderdale, FL provides an elaborate home entertainment experience for technology, movie and music lovers with annual sales of approximately $2 million. “If you’re interested in a space, start a Meetup group, join a Meetup group, and start connecting with a community of those people. It could change, shift, pivot into something much better than you ever imagined. I wish I had done more before I jumped into the business.”

Embrace your strengths. Problem-solving can be a particular strength for people with disabilities who find themselves in situations that require them to use this skill every day. “As a person with a disability, We’re always trying to find ways around this,” says McShane. “How do I negotiate those stairs? So I am always looking for creative solutions to things. I don’t think we’re fully aware of it, but that’s what we do. I do it every day. Therefore… most people with disabilities are problem solvers. You have no choice. we have to understand that. ”

An organic chemist and food and beverage industry consultant, Hobby Wedler is also the co-founder of Senspoint Design, a global creative, marketing and strategic consultancy. you may not see it. This has allowed us to build a business serving clients such as Francis Ford Coppola wineries and developing new concepts for wine tasting events.

“In the food industry, I can use my taste buds, use skills that other people don’t have, and solve problems that no one else can,” says Wedler. “Product development cases are very rewarding when I get involved. From the point of view of not seeing, I use the word seeing things.

Find different ways to gather the experience you need to do your job. McShane once worked on a marketing campaign for a brand aimed at runners who were tired and had sore feet. He had someone comment, “Kathy, what do you know about running?” McShane thought about it and realized that although he wasn’t running, he had another experience that was just as relevant. He said, “It doesn’t have to be actually running. There are other ways to do it.”

Create opportunities for other people with disabilities. Many people with disabilities are underemployed because companies do not recognize their talents.

“The Department of Labor has a disability database,” says McShane. “These people are great. And they should all have jobs, but some people are very uncomfortable with people with disabilities. It was one of the driving forces: I wanted to be in a position where I could hire people with and without disabilities, but actually I wanted to hire them for what they did well, for their values. They weren’t getting special treatment, frankly.”

As the panelists pointed out, entrepreneurship can be a very rewarding career option. Some employers won’t hire him, but Wedler says, “If he can’t sit at a table, he’s going to build one for himself.”