The past year has been one of upheaval for all businesses, and the North Dakota Women’s Business Center was not immune to the dynamics of navigating a global pandemic while still maintaining its focus on supporting women-owned businesses throughout the state.
The center is a program of the Center for Technology and Business, a certified entrepreneurship center located in Bismarck and Fargo. The center receives federal funding through grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration as well as the North Dakota Department of Commerce.
Before the pandemic started, the NDWBC met with business owners or potential entrepreneurs as well as hosted various events aimed at bringing women together in a supportive learning environment.
But once the pandemic hit, the organization had to re-imagine its offerings.
NDWBC Program Director Christy Dauer, who is based in Fargo, explained that many of the in-person programs such as Strong Women, Strong Coffee went virtual. Costs associated with the once quarterly event went down, so the center started offering it once a week. But, with people tuning in through Facebook Live, so did program revenue. Undaunted, the program continues to offer the sessions with a variety of community speakers.
Free and confidential business advisings continued to happen throughout the year, but many went online. Those meetings became more important than ever as the SBA rolled out protocols and programs to help relieve the pressure small businesses were feeling amidst the pandemic.
One resource that emerged was the creation of The Library, a free, on-demand collection of trainings and resources on a variety of topics from start-up assistance to accounting to human resources and more.
Looking back on the year and all the clients the NDWBC worked with, Dauer highlighted the innovation and perseverance they exhibited in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. “Our clients learned how to focus and really honed in on what they could be doing very well,” she said. “They learned how to adapt and change to a dynamic environment of customers . . . Many focused on their culture and building a workplace where people want to come to work everyday.”
For 20 years, the mission of the NDWBC has been to foster business growth and leadership development, and the organization does that by serving entrepreneurs, because “that journey isn’t always a straight line,” Dauer said. “We want to support them through good times and not-so-good times and lift them up and bring them back to their vision.”
Three resources to get started on business journey
The Library: This video content and the supporting documentation is tailored to offer business professionals knowledge on a range of topics. Visit https://library.ndwbc.com/ to learn more.
Schedule a business advising: These free and confidential meetings will give you a chance to share your vision with a thinking partner to help guide the process.
Check out a training or program: You could meet another entrepreneur, get help writing a business plan, find a business mentor and more.