Today I’m continuing the Women Entrepreneur series with an interview with Sylvia Browder of National Women on the Rise. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Sylvia on several projects and she is an AWESOME servant leader! She does an awesome job of empowering women and I think you are really going to enjoy this interview.
If you are new to the Women Entrepreneur series, this is a once a month post I do with Women Entrepreneurs meant to educate and empower you, the reader, to take action. One of the quickest and easiest ways to build wealth is to become a business owner. Becoming a business owner means different things for different women. Your business could be small or large, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is you are taking action and working towards a dream you have created. Your business may be part time or full time, it could serve as your “plan b” if you get laid off or fired. Either way there are women every day starting businesses and working towards their dreams.
I want to feature these women as part of my monthly Women Entrepreneurs series. This is not a paid series of posts and I don’t receive any compensation for this or anything like that. The goal of this series is motivation! I want you to think outside of the box and dare to make what you’ve been dreaming about become a reality, like the women I’ll feature in this series. Enjoy!
Name: Sylvia Browder
Business: National Association of Women on the Rise
1. Tell me about yourself and your National Association of Women on the Rise
My name is Sylvia Browder and I am founder of ‘National Association Women on the Rise (NAWR), a membership association for aspiring and established women entrepreneurs. The association’s mission is to provide professional and personal resources while uplifting and empowering women entrepreneurs in collaboration, education, mentoring, spiritual and peer support, leadership and networking. It is proactive in its approach and plan to focus all its initiatives around “five pillars.” These are—
•Health & Wellness
In addition, I am publisher of the popular ‘Sylvia Browder’s Blog for Women Entrepreneurs. The blog includes informative articles, interviews with successful women entrepreneurs and authors, and resources.
I am Co-Author of “Victorious Living for Moms,” a collaborative effort of over 30 authors from around the country who shared their personal story as a tribute to their children.
I am currently employed as Project Director and business consultant for the Women’s Business Center Inc, a non-profit economic development organization with a mission of empowering women to start and grow successful businesses.
I am married to Matroy Browder, a Senior Federal Border Patrol Agent with US Customs Border Protection under Department of Homeland Security and we are the proud parents of 5 children, 3 boys and 2 girls, ranging in ages from 10 to 25. We are members of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Mobile, AL.
2. How did you get started with your business? What is your background and what made you choose to become an entrepreneur?
I was first introduced to entrepreneurship in 1999. I was working for a major telecommunications company and one of my co-workers had started a janitorial company and used to share stories about it. I was so intrigued that with her help, I started my own janitorial company which grew it into a thriving and respected business. I started off working it very part time, night and weekends, but after losing my job, my corporate job, ran it full time. I sold the business in 2003 as we had decided to relocate from San Diego to Mobile, AL.
Feeling the entrepreneurial bug, launched a home based virtual administrative and marketing company serving small businesses globally. I didn’t have much success then as internet marketing was fairly young.
God planted a seed in early 2008 that instructed me to help more women. I didn’t know what that meant as I was counseling and training women locally as director of a non- profit organization. I talked to my executive director, excitedly sharing my plans to start a local networking group outside of work. I will never forget what she said… ‘To keep it small and work with the ladies in my church.’ I was a little disappointed in her response but not surprised nor deterred!
So, I moved forward and invited several local women to form a focus group. There was some interest but I decided that it wasn’t enough to compromise my employment, so I suppressed the idea, for a short time! I started exploring social networking, created a blog and launched a women’s group, ‘Minority Women on the Rise’ on Facebook and LinkedIn. This allowed me to connect with women globally. The response was overwhelming! My reputation as an online expert grew and I had women reaching out to me for mentoring and support. I received emails at various times from non-minority women who expressed an interest in joining my various communities but wasn’t sure if they were welcome because the name implied it was for ‘minority’ women. I realized that I needed to change the name as I never wanted any woman to feel unwelcome to join my groups. So, I changed the name to ‘National Association of Women on the Rise.’
In March 2011, NAWR was officially launched. Today, we offer resources and support in the areas of beauty, entrepreneurship, health & wellness, financial wealth and spirituality. www.nawomenrise.com
My background spans over 25 years of corporate and business experience, which includes working in various customer service roles in the telecommunication industry; working for startup and established small companies; and as a successful entrepreneur. I earned a B.S. in Fashion Merchandising with a Minor in Marketing in December 1990 from Southeastern Louisiana University. In addition, I joined the United States Army Reserves in 1986 while completing my studies.
3. Why did you create NAWR and what makes you different from other women’s organizations?
I started NAWR because it was a direct order from God. As I thought about the services that women needed, I thought back to my experience as a first time business owner. I didn’t have a support team in place; I found it a challenge to balance my business, a busy household with four young children and a husband that traveled a lot.
So, NAWR focus all its initiatives around “five pillars.” These are—
•Health & Wellness
These are the core areas that we as women let suffer as we take care of everyone else. So, I partner with professional women who specialize in these areas and they share their resources and expertise with members of my community.
4. What are some challenges you faced along the way as you started your business?
A challenge is like change… a constant and necessary part of being an entrepreneur! I’ve experienced many challenges in my years as a business owner. For instance, in my current job, I oversee a program that provides mentoring, counseling and technical assistance to women with new and existing businesses. Well, working with women entrepreneurs happens to be my passion work and so I must be sensitive to my employer and a few of her board members who regularly monitor my business activities and online success.
In addition, managing a full time work schedule; duties as board of director member of two non-profit organizations; a very busy household that includes my husband, kids and running two virtual businesses truly take work and life balance to a new level. People regularly ask me how I do it and my response is I don’t think about it… I just schedule all activities and delegate.
5. What keeps you motivated and focused on your business through the hard times?
I always think about the needs of others. I ask myself, “am I making a difference in someone else’s life?” If the answer is yes… then it’s not about me… it’s about doing God’s work. Uplifting and empowering others to live healthy balanced lives.
6. What one piece of advice would you offer to other women who are thinking about starting their own business?
Now, this is where my passion kicks in… sharing a few nuggets women should consider before starting a business. You said one piece… but please allow me to share my top 4 important tips:
Prepare a Business Plan
A comprehensive business plan is imperative to your business success. It is needed to not only organize your business but to get a small business loan.
Research and Know Your Competition
Understanding who your competitors are helps to project sales, avoid surprises, decrease reaction time as well as helps in understanding your own business (or proposed business) better.
Analyze Your Market
The success of your business depends on making sales. Marketing is a way of communicating with your target market so they (customers) will buy your products and services. It is a necessary element of business.
Put Personal Finances in Order
A prospective entrepreneur’s relationship with money and her ability to successfully manage personal finances and credit are directly connected to her success in the planning, decision-making, detailed oversight and big picture strategizing that are necessary to healthy business finance management.
6a. What advice or lessons learned would you give to other women ?
A few important nuggets that I share with my clients, mentees, members in my association or other women in business is to collaborate with other women in business for support, encouragement and best practices; connect with women you admire for mentorship and above all else, pay it forward. There is power in unity!
6b. Why is mentoring important?
Choosing a mentor is one of the most important decisions you can make as a professional. Mentors should be those whose work you admire and possess strong leadership abilities. In addition:
A mentor will hold you accountable. Often, business owners neglect important aspects of their businesses such as marketing, financial obligations or operations. A mentor will hold you accountable for your actions, help you set realistic goals and assist you in finding ways to balance your time.
A mentor will help you define and reach short and long term goals. Setting realistic goals for your business is important. A mentor will help you explore achievable goals, ask clarifying questions to help you define them while developing strategies to keep you focused from day-to-day pressures of business and family.
To learn more about Sylvia and National Association on the Rise, you can connect here:
Become a fan of ‘National Association Women on the Rise:, Follow Sylvia on Twitter and NAWR on Twitter.
Are you LinkedIn? Join ‘National Association Women on the Rise’ on LinkedIn and join the community on NING at www.nawomenrise.com.
Thank you Sylvia for this awesome and inspiring interview!
Do you know an inspiring women entrepreneur that would be a great feature for this series? Send me an email and let me know, I’d love to feature her!