Frustrated with events for women in business that focused on handbags and jewelry, attorney Kimberly Hanlon decided to create a new event for women who are working to run and grow a business.
Hanlon, a St. Louis Park resident, approached the co-founder of her law firm, Sommer Spector Angstman, with the concept.
“She said, ‘Yeah, I like it,’” Hanlon said. “Coming up with the vision was easy.”
The two co-founders of Lucere Legal in downtown Minneapolis decided to move forward with the idea. The result is the Minnesota Women’s Small Business Expo. It will be 2-6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, at the Nicollet Island Pavilion, 40 Power St. in Minneapolis.
The first 500 attendees through the door will receive a copy of Hanlon’s second book, “The Minnesota Small Business Owner’s Legal Survival Guide (How to avoid the 15 legal snares that can ruin your business, take over your life, and leave you bankrupt).” Hanlon noted that many people start their own businesses because they are technically capable at a specific skill, but they may not know all the ins and outs of running a business.
“If I tried to capture everything everyone has to know, the book would be taller than me,” Hanlon joked. “This is not that book. It’s information so a business owner can operate with confidence and also recognize where their risks are and where they might need to get some legal help.”
Lucere Legal serves small business owners, and Hanlon said, anecdotally, she has observed more and more women becoming entrepreneurs in business.
“It’s nice for women to have networking and resources,” she said.
Of the concept for the expo, she clarified, “It’s not about excluding men. Fellas are absolutely welcome. But it is about empowering women, and for us as women – businesswomen – to be supporting one another in what we’re doing. The world is changing in that aspect.”
Considering the demographics of corporate executives and senior partners at law firms, Hanlon said, “I think there is still a glass ceiling firmly in place. I think there are getting to be some cracks in it and more women who are saying, ‘Let me take what I’m doing here and bring it out into the world.’”
While people who become entrepreneurs may be working as many hours as they did at a large company, Hanlon said, “There’s a lot of freedom that comes in just having self-direction. I think it’s when bright and capable women come up against the glass ceiling.”
Many women in business tend to operate in a relational way, Hanlon said.
“As a business owner, there’s nothing better than networking with other women business owners,” Hanlon said. “Really, there’s a level of camaraderie and generosity. In the right atmosphere, women support women very well, and for that matter, women support men very well, too.”
Women may face more challenges in obtaining business credit than men and may face barriers in locating good resources that will work well with their small businesses, Hanlon said. The expo will provide vendors who can assist attendees with their business needs.
“While I love handbags and I love jewelry and shoes and all that, we don’t have those,” Hanlon said of the event. “I love those, but those are not what it takes to grow a business. Sometimes you go to women’s events and there’s candle ladies there. It’s not really supportive of what we’re up to.”
That said, she said she welcomes expo attendees who range from sole entrepreneurs working from home to well-established business leaders.
Hanlon has some experience in convening professionals having founded the Rainmaking Revolution, a one-day conference for attorneys. While that event occurred only once, Hanlon said she anticipates that the Minnesota Women’s Small Business Expo will become an annual event. She has already heard from people who can’t attend this year who asked to join a list for next year, she said.
“So, some people are super excited about it already,” she observed.
With a laugh, Hanlon added that she does not personally know the vast majority of registrants so far.
“So, it’s not like it’s just my friends showing up, which is a good thing,” she said.
The event is on track to attract more than 500 people, she said. In the future, the expo could become a longer event.
“If people are still milling about at 6 o’ clock and we have to boot them out, we know we’ll need more time!” she exclaimed. “Really, it’s about going in and making connections with people.”
Speakers include Anita Motolinia, a mediator and conflict coach; Gayle Noakes, a workflow and process management consultant; Joan Gilles, a financial advisor and coach; and Sarah Bateman, a public speaking coach.
Louise Griffith, a certified success coach, international keynote speaker and author of “You Are Worth It,” will appear. The author of “WTF: Willingness to Fail,” Timothy Schmidt, is also scheduled to speak. Schmidt is a marketing and advertising specialist.
On a more technical note, cost segregation specialist Jodi Neilson will discuss a method that can be used to change depreciation schedules and free up cash flow.
“We’re lucky that the Twin Cities area is home to many great authors and consultants who are also great public speakers,” Hanlon said in a statement about the list. “We’ve been able to tap our network to bring dynamic people who bring valuable content to the table.”
Spector Angstman added, “The people we’ve selected are a good fit for helping closely held companies, and particularly like to work with women, which is not always the case in the larger business community.”
To register for the event, visit MNWomensSmallBusinessExpo.com.