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‘Mommy Millionaire’ Kim Lavine has advice for women in business: ‘Don’t get angry, get rich’

Kim Lavine, center, talks last week with the owners of Brittanie’s Thyme, a Cedar Springs-based company that sells USDA certified organic personal care products. They were participating in the Women in Successful Enterprises event at the Pennisular Club in downtown Grand Rapids.

By The Grand Rapids Press
November 23, 2009, 6:09AM

GRAND RAPIDS – “Mommy Millionaire” author Kim Lavine said women business owners should capitalize on “perhaps the biggest entrepreneurial revolution this country has ever seen.”

Despite a struggling economy, now isn’t the time to cower in fear, said the Grand Haven Township woman who built a nearly $10 million business from her home.

“Forget all this talk about doom and gloom,” Lavine told dozens of area businesswomen at last week’s Women in Successful Enterprises expo at the Peninsular Club, 77 Monroe Center NW. “Everything is changing. Don’t confuse change with fear.”

Lavine is president of Mommy Millionaire Media and Grand Haven-based Green Daisy Inc., a company that began in 2001 with her Wuvit corn-filled therapy pillow and now licenses pajamas, pet accessories, stationery, lip balm and other products.

She is embarking on an international tour to promote her second book, “The Mommy Manifesto: How to Use Our Power to Think Big, Break Limitations and Achieve Success,” released in September and published by John Wiley & Sons Inc.

She said she is on a mission to kickstart a million new businesses in the U.S.

Lavine encourages women with solid business models to take advantage of $20 billion offered annually by affluent “angel investors,” many of whom are based in California’s Silicon Valley.

Write down an estimated start-up cost, multiply it by 10 and begin looking for cash, she advised.

“Those angels have a mandate to invest in women-owned businesses, and I want to see every one of you knocking on their doors and asking them for money,” Lavine said. “This is an historic time for women to connect with this capital.”

“Ninety percent of success is in your head. Tell yourself you are fabulous – and own it.”

According to Lavine, women are moving backward for the first time since the 1970s. While they are launching businesses at twice the rate of men, only 3 percent of the companies have revenues of $1 million or more, she said.

Women also are being downsized “disproportionately” in the recession, she said. Still, resentment isn’t a fruitful enterprise.

“Don’t get angry, get rich,” Lavine said.

Integral to Lavine’s game plan is using free, social media to promote products and services.

Resources such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter mustn’t be ignored, she said.

“You must Tweet today,” Lavine said. “The more you cast your net out, they’re more connections you’re going to make. It’s a numbers game.”

“You have to adapt your strategies.”

Organization to boost women business owners

Grand Rapids Business Journal – Elizabeth Slowik
Published: March 30, 2009

A new group is organizing to support women whose businesses are ready to take the next step.

WISE — Women In Successful Enterprises — aims to help women business owners who are past the start-up phase and are ready to grow, said Floriza Genautis.

Genautis, owner of Management Business Solutions Inc., a Grand Rapids staffing and recruiting firm with six employees, is working with Connie Sweet of Connection Graphics in Lansing to organize WISE, an outgrowth of their participation in the local group Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs.

WISE plans to sponsor events quarterly for established women-owned businesses in central and West Michigan, Genautis said. The first occurred last week, with a session on sustainability at Cascade Engineering, followed by a brewery tour and networking time at Schmohz Brewery. She said she expected about 50 to attend.

The next event will be a full-day conference on leadership May 21 in conjunction with Ann Arbor-based Michigan Women’s Marketplace, an online forum for women in business, at Davenport University’s Caledonia campus.

“It’s created to be a resource group for women in business who are already established.” said Genautis, who launched her firm less than three years ago.

“When we were looking to find a name, we really said, ‘You know, these are wise women,’” she added. “They are looking to grow their business to the next level. They’re certainly not start-ups. They are not in the entrepreneurial phase. … We want to be the vehicle to provide those opportunities as well as resources to get them to that level.”

The organization is not membership-based, she said.

Genautis said she has often attended events for women business owners on the east side of the state.

“There’s something missing here in our area in West Michigan, because there’s nothing here available. There are a lot of great, great … events, organizations available to help you get started, networking opportunities, but never focused on established companies. Really, that’s where we came in.”

More information is available at www.wiseconnections.org.

“It’s very inclusive. You don’t have to be a business owner to join in,” she added, noting that executives in larger businesses may participate in WISE events.

Among the issues that established businesses face that may be addressed by WISE are public relations and employee retention, Genautis said. “We do face different types of issues as we grow our business,” she said.