News & Insights 7 May 2024

Nine Key Takeaways from the 2024 WBENC National Conference

Attending the 2024 WBENC National Conference was truly an inspiring event. With over 5,000 women entrepreneurs and corporate leaders connecting and supporting each other. West Hill’s Louise Kennedy, Shehla Syed and Jennica Holoquist discovered innovative best practices and celebrated the accomplishments of women-owned businesses.

1. Women entrepreneurs should never be afraid to ask for help.

This conference was all about supporting women business owners, making connections, and sharing ideas. Answers and help were around every corner, from informal advice to corporate mentorship programs for diverse businesses. The focus was on helping women-owned businesses grow and thrive. 

2. Corporate leaders see the value of working with women-owned businesses.

According to WBENC, more than 1,000 corporations in the US have committed to spending over $1 billion each year with Women-Owned Businesses. At the conference this year, many of these corporations were honored for their long-term commitment to diversifying their supply chains. 

3. Be prepared. There’s opportunity around every corner.

Some of the best connections are made while standing in line for coffee, waiting for a program to start, or wandering through the expo. Make the most of these opportunities by introducing yourself. Explain what you do and who you serve. Tell your brand story. Know your differentiators. Ask about others’ businesses. Each person you meet may not be an ideal potential client, but they can be connectors, referral sources and mentors. 

4. Celebrating the accomplishments of women-owned businesses is important.

The conference included a variety of celebrations and fun activities to recognize the achievements of women entrepreneurs. The business journey, particularly in male-dominated fields, is challenging, and it’s important to celebrate wins along the way! Shout out to the 2024 WBE Stars, including the West Hill Founding Attorney, Louise Kennedy, for being recognized for their achievements live at the conference. 

5. Birds of a feather flock together.

Dynamic entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to improve their skills and build their networks. So it’s not a surprise that the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program was well represented with both an expo table and lots of alumni in attendance. The 2024 WBE Stars alone included multiple 10KSB alumni, including Louise Kennedy, Barb Smith, Michele Adams, and others.  

6. Roll out the welcome mat.

The vibe of the West Hill conference booth was friendly and approachable. Tucked in a corner but with brightly colored graphics, a bouquet of flowers, and a pitcher of lemonade, WBEs, and corporate members stopped by for a chat. Smiling, friendly, and passionate about what they do, the West Hill team put people at ease (despite their prior experiences talking to lawyers).  

7. WBENC certification is a valuable tool for women-owned businesses.

According to WBENC, women-owned businesses that are certified through their program are more likely to win contracts and secure new business opportunities. The WBENC application (especially the legal documentation section) can be daunting, but if you are ready to get certified as a Women-Owned Business, West Hill can help you navigate the process.  

“West Hill has been WBENC certified since 2013 and it has unlocked countless opportunities for our firm. WBENC is truly the leading women’s business development organization and I encourage all current WBEs and other women-owned businesses to tap into the limitless potential of the WBENC network,”

said Louise Kennedy.

8. Amplify. Collaboration is key to success in business.

Through productive Meet & Greets with corporate members and other networking opportunities at every turn, we were able to connect with other women entrepreneurs and corporate leaders to explore potential partnerships and collaborations. It was also a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with friends from WBENC educational events like WeThrive and the Advanced Leadership Seminar. 

9. Walk the Walk.
The best way to help a woman owned business is to work with a women owned business.

Hire or source products from a woman-owned business. It is good for business and good for your community. Women-owned businesses fuel the economy, representing 39.1% of all businesses – over 14 million – employing 12.2 million workers and generating $2.7 trillion in revenue. According to the 2024 Wells Fargo Impact of Women-Owned Business Report, in partnership with Ventureneer, CoreWoman, and Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), the number of women-owned businesses increased at nearly double the rate of those owned by men between 2019 and 2023; and from 2022 to 2023, the rate of growth increased to 4.5 times. 

 “How long do you want to sit and admire the problem before you start working on addressing the issue? Ignite change.”

Nellie Borrero, author of Unwavering
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