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“I think you’ve got to see everything as an opportunity. You cannot spend a lot of time lamenting the fact that we’re in this, because we are and you need to re-evaluate everything.” – Nell Merlino
Despite the challenges in our current environment, there has never been a better time for women to lead in business and to support one another. As we face these new obstacles, today’s inspiring Finding Brave guest is continuing to help women leaders innovate and grow their businesses and not only survive, but thrive.
Nell Merlino created Take Our Daughters to Work Day with the Ms. Foundation for Women in 1993, in which over 25 million people participated in the first two years. She then expanded her strategic communications consultancy to develop winning campaigns, strategies and events for dozens of clients including the YWCA, Amnesty International, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, The Sierra Club, Calvert, The Sister Fund and the NGO Forum on Women in Beijing ’95.
In 2000, Nell launched Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, the first online microlender in the world. This grew to encompass the Women Veterans Entrepreneur Corp and the Make Mine a Million $ Business program with founding sponsor American Express and champions including Hillary Clinton, Suze Orman, Nely Galan, Valerie Morris (CNN) and Janet Napolitano.
Recently, Nell has revived the “Count me in” campaign to help female entrepreneurs in the wake of COVID-19, by offering $250,000 in grants, including four $25,000 grants and 15 $10,000 grants.
In this episode, Nell reveals how women in business can access capital, and she gives her strategies and advice for growing and pivoting during this pandemic. Nell shares how everyone can pivot, and it just takes the will and willingness to do so. Countless new opportunities await the women in small business who accept this challenge, and move forward despite their fears and doubts.
Highlights from this Episode:
- Why The Count Me In Revival is so critical at this point in time, and how it initially came to be [6:38]
- The big realization that Nell made about professional women back in 2000 that changed everything for her [9:47]
- What she feels is holding a majority of women back from thriving at the highest levels in their businesses [12:38]
- The key things you should consider in order to grow and pivot in these times, and why Nell says that everyone can do this [16:22]
- A big mistake entrepreneurs are making, but need to be avoiding, to improve their chance of survival in business [20:06]
- How to use the opportunities available to both be generous, and build you business at the same time [21:23]
- Why being flexible and not overly attaching to a business model or particular outcome is key right now [27:37]
- The first steps one should be look at when looking to make that next pivot in the marketplace [29:06]
- Exciting developments from Nell’s organization, and how female entrepreneurs can go about receiving funding [32:24]
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“We don’t listen to ourselves. I don’t think it’s even a question of belief, but I think the voice is knocking and we don’t even open the door.” [12:40]
“You better be sure of who you are and what you’ve got, because nobody else is going to remind you of that except you.” [15:46]
“So it’s understanding how you are going to get customers back and how you are going to get new customers, and it’s not doing anything physical. It’s all online and in figuring out how you are going to communicate in this medium.” [17:28]
“People need to build coaching into their annual budgets. It’s not just something that you do when you’re in trouble.” [25:52]
“How are you cutting your expenses, keeping your cash flow going and paying attention to the trends in your business? Pivot, and then move into whatever is hot, new, better and different.” [17:52]
“We all have to lift each other up. This is not a time for complaining, so much as it is a time for problem solving.” [34:22]
“The more we can see our image and ourselves and other women doing great things, the more we can do great things.” [38:26]
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