Three Fantastic Female Entrepreneurs
This week I got to sit down with Three Fantastic Entrepreneurs from the Atlanta area. Diana Keough, CEO and founder of ShareWIK Media Group (Share What I Know), LeeAnn Maxwell, Co-Founder of Vixen Vodka, and Lara Hodgson, multiple-time successful entrepreneur and CEO/Founder of NOWaccount. We talked about some of the challenges they faced as women launching their own businesses, hear what they believe helped them succeed as entrepreneurs, and advice they offer for women contemplating starting a business of their own. For the longest time most of us would envision a man when thinking “CEO” or “Doctor”, or even “Entrepreneur”. And, as our guests shared, many times they’re the only female CEO/Entrepreneur in a room full of men. Times are slowly but surely changing. And today many women are launching successful brands and businesses, some of which are now global brands.
ShareWIK Media Group is a licensed content-generating group, producing high quality, interesting content across all media types for use in population health management efforts, inbound marketing/branding, testimonial content, and pertinent health optimization content. Diana talked about her transition from a journalist for the Plains Dealer newspaper to a Chief Executive Officer in a leadership role. She says, “If you are not surrounding yourself with people who are better than you and open to the fact that you might be wrong; or they might have a better idea on how to do things, then you’re not going to grow.” Over the weeks since I met Diana I’ve had the opportunity to meet several of the folks who make up the team at ShareWIK and seen some of their work. I can tell you: if your organization or agency needs to move an initiative or your business forward and you rely heavily on engaging your target audience to drive awareness you MUST include ShareWIK Media Group on your shortlist of content providers. At their core, the people at ShareWIK Media Group are journalists with expertise across all media types. On top of journalistic skills they bring knowledge and expertise within the healthcare journalism space as well.
Vixen Vodka is an EXCELLENT vodka that was born out of a trip to St. Simons Island, GA where two friends, drinking cocktails by the pool, decided they should launch their own vodka, branded and tailored for women. As LeeAnn says, “We came home, sobered up, and remembered it was a great idea.” “A dream without action is merely a fantasy.” It took them 2 years from beach to shelf. She shared how she and her good friend (also a woman) broke into the spirits business, starting with ZERO knowledge of how to make vodka much less how to bring one to market. After being told her idea was fantastic by a business consultant he turned around and told them, “I’ll never work. The spirits industry is a Good Ol’ Boys network. Those men will chew you up and spit you out!” That was several years ago and now the brand is adding more states to the seven states where they’re currently sold.
NOWaccount got started as a solution to a problem Lara Hodgson encountered as an entrepreneur with an earlier business, the impact of not having access to cash that is tied up holding unpaid invoices, particularly when they aged for several weeks (or more). She firmly believes that a successful business needs to have people behind them who are providing the product/service to solve a particular problem for their customer more so than “to sell lots of ‘X’ and make lots of money because it’s a great product”. She said, “So many people come up with a great idea and they fall in love with the ‘What’. They fall in love with the widget or the product. And if your ego and your passion is in the product then they are going to woefully un-deliver. But if your ego and your passion are in the “So What?” and the impact and the problem you’re solving then the sky’s the limit.” NOWaccount is a merchant services company that provides the B2B company with access to capital by selling slower-paying invoice accounts within 2-5 days for basically the same cost as accepting a credit card. Their solution is invisible to their client’s customers, has no minimum time commitment, and includes only those accounts selected by the B2B they’re helping. The NOWaccount option gives businesses the capital they need to accept larger orders, add staff, often enabling them grow larger and faster than was possible before.
- Former Adjunct Professor of Finance, Georgia Institute of Technology
- Board of Directors, Georgia Regional Transportation Authority
- Owner, Insomnia Group
- Chairman of the Board, Atlanta Heights Charter School
- Second Language–Japanese
- Journalism Instructor/Guest Lecturer, Emory University
- Member, Koles College of Business Advisory Board, Kennsaw State University
- Former Front Page Series Writer, The Plain Dealer
- Former Reporter/Commentator, WKSU
- Co-author, “Building a Business, Building a Life: The Incredible Life of a Woman Business Owner”
LeeAnn Maxwell, CEO/Co-Founder of Vixen Vodka
- 28 years experience in finance sector
- former Director, Client Services of AccousTech Music Productions
- Crossfit fan
- 50% Firecracker
- 50% Do-It-Yourself Woman