women entrepreneurs bossy panel

Five Women Entrepreneurs In Rochester NY Answer Questions About Their Businesses

In June 2022, I attended my first BOSSY panel. BOSSY is a Rochester organization focused on uniting women business owners and serves as a source of information and connection. The event I attended was “RELENTLESS: An Authentic BOSSY panel on Disruption and Change.” The purpose of the panel was to bring together local women entrepreneurs to share testimonies about their businesses “before times and now” while navigating through 2022. $5 of every ticket sold went to Sweet Ida Mae’s Pantry, a local nonprofit serving people all over Rochester NY with boots on the ground combating food insecurity.

I was really looking forward to hearing stories from my colleagues and women I haven’t met before. There were women business owners who I heard of but never had the pleasure of meeting. It had also been a while since I attended a networking event, especially one with all women, and I desired having that connection. I believe that if you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room and I was looking forward to learning something new from women entrepreneurs who have been in business longer than I have. I wanted to connect with others who may be experiencing some of the challenges and successes I am experiencing in my businesses. I also saw it as a great opportunity to network and share about an upcoming workshop I am hosting and leading on Google Business Profiles for Startups in July.

The BOSSY panelists included:

Sponsors who helped make this event possible included:

There were so many great stories and useful information shared during the BOSSY panel. It was very hard to pick out one piece of advice or quote from each panelist. I would recommend anyone who reads this to check out each panelist’s organization and if you’re a woman entrepreneur, consider joining the BOSSY private Facebook group.

Here are five golden nuggets I took away from the event.

“Your vibe attracts your tribe” – Christina KoStar 

  • I love this attitude! It’s important we surround ourselves with people who can help propel us forward. We have to recognize that what we are dropping, not everyone is going to pick up. If you say, our “target audience” is everyone, unless you have buyer personas for everyone, this is a red flag in your marketing strategy. You will make yourself crazy trying to appease every single person. You won’t and that is OK. Save some time by clearly identifying your target audience, communicate with them in a way they will understand, and let go of the people who don’t fit. You poured your heart and soul into your business, making it the way you want it to be. Understand that you are unique, you are worthy, and chances are, you are not the only person who likes what you have to offer. Be OK with being you and attracting like-minded people. Put out the energy you want to attract, and watch your circle grow.

“I won’t take “no” for an answer, so how do I get to “yes”? Everything I had to do, I did.” – Tanvi Asher

  • In the beginning, you do what you can, where you can. You can have the best mission and dream up all the plans in the world for your business, but if you go to the bank without the plan and some experience, they will most likely tell you no. It’s important to note here that a “no” often means “not yet”. Going back with the information you received after asking “how do I turn that no into a yes” requires action. That “no” is an opportunity to learn, evolve, and build something stronger. Then you can go back and ask for that yes. There is also the option to continue pounding the pavement to the next service provider and the next, until someone gives you that chance you’re asking for.

“I stand firm in my values, even if it affects my bottom line.” – Imani Olear

  • Identify what you stand for before you open your doors. Build your mission, vision, and values into your business plan, operating agreements, and offer letters. Be clear with this. There will be good times and there will be challenging times, times when you have to make incredibly hard decisions and you’ll have no idea what to do. So when that happens, you can go back to your values and ask yourself, what do our values say we do? Values also help attract the people you want to serve, and deter those who don’t believe in those values. Because you know you can’t please everyone, you can expect some pushback for what you stand firm in. There are so many people in the world that you’re going to piss someone off eventually. Learn to let it go, and let them go. When it comes to employees, there are ways to identify whether or not during the interviews, and even sometimes as early as the job application and resume submission, that you can see if this person is aligned with your values. Core value based decision making is a method for making critical organizational decisions in an informed and timely manner. So identify your values from the beginning, and if you’ve been in business a while and haven’t yet, get started now. Keep in mind you may lose some folks at work, but be mindful that the short-term unpleasantry will have long-term gains. I highly recommend the book, Traction by Gino Wickman for every entrepreneur to read no matter where they are in their professional journey.

“I was literally having contractions on a labor ball while finishing up a tasting wheel. Next thing I remember, I’m in the shop the following week leading an online tasting.” – Lindsay Tarnoff

  • As a business owner and mother, I know what this feels like. Most times, it doesn’t feel like it, but this is what a modern day wonder woman looks like. There are so many women entrepreneurs that put their goals, dreams, growth, self-care, intimacy… we can keep going, on pause, to grow a human being, give birth to this human, and adjust their life to meet the needs of this human. It’s so important to acknowledge these sacrifices of business and motherhood. You can have them both, but understand that it is going to require an insane amount of work. If you were to put a salary on what a “stay at home mom” would make if she were to earn for all the responsibilities and roles she plays, it would be in the six digits. This balance of motherhood and business is delicate, it’s hard, and it’s important to have a support system in place. 

“The best part about owning a business is learning more about my damn self.” – Rosa Marie

  • Being a business owner will stretch you beyond your limits and as a result, you will grow. You are going to experience challenges you never had to really consider when you were an employee, such as who is going to take your place for you when you call in sick? If you are not open to learning, you have no business being in business. There are extreme ebbs and flows, so you will learn what you can or can’t handle, emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially. When you become responsible for people other than yourself, you have to check yourself because how you act leads the pack. Remember that your vibe attracts your tribe.

About BOSSY:

Bossy was founded by Kelly Metras and Kelly Bush in 2014 as a way to build a community of women entrepreneurs. Kelly Metras is the owner of Salena’s Mexican Restaurant, Nox, and serves as the President for the New York Restaurant Association Rochester NY chapter. Kelly Bush is the owner of Marshall Street Bar and Grill, Union Tavern, and previously served as the President for the New York Restaurant Association in Rochester NY.  Together they create a dynamic duo of leading powerhouse women in the Rochester community that has a regional and state-wide reach. To become a member of BOSSY, please visit https://www.bossyroc.com/membership to fill out a form. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram as well as listen to their new podcast, “Getting Real With BOSSY.