Latina entrepreneurs are a rare species, not in numbers but in quality. Once they find their life purpose, they dedicate their lives to it. Mariela Dabbah is one of them. I met Mariela, founder of the Red Shoe Movement, a few years ago and we connected, maybe because we have similar backgrounds -in country of origin, as immigrants and in many other aspects of our lives. Mariela has become a great supporter of LatinasinBusiness.us, and I’m eternally grateful for it.
For Latina entrepreneurs interested in growing their business, there are few people as focused on their challenges as Susana Baumann. Inspiring, generous and connected, her organization is making a difference for small women-owned businesses and the communities they serve. Get to know her!
A multicultural expert, award-winning business writer, public speaker and published author, Susana Baumann is the Founder and Director of LCSWorldwide, a Multicultural Marketing Communications consulting firm located in New Jersey. Susana is the Editor-in-Chief of her company’s new initiative, LatinasinBusiness.us, an online platform dedicated to the economic empowerment of the Latina working woman.
The platform has received the attention and support of Latina leaders around the country including the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the New America Alliance (NAA), and the National Latina Business Women Association (NLBWA). She has received the Latina Excellence Award, the TECLA Award for Best Business Blog at Hispanicize 2015, and was invited to become a media member of the NAA American Latina Leadership Caucus. In 2017, Susana Baumann was named a 2017 Latina of Influence by Hispanic Lifestyle Magazine.
Most importantly, Susana Baumann is a constant presence in initiatives that matter to Latina entrepreneurs, always ready to provide insights, support and visibility to those who need it most.
Susana G Baumann (SB) — The beauty of moving to another country is the opportunity to find who you really are and what your purpose is. I studied Architecture in Argentina because my father chose that career for me. I had some inclination for the arts but he considered Architecture a more profitable career. I only worked as an architect for a few years and then I became a college professor.
When I had the opportunity to move to the US, I decided a professional accreditation would allow me to work here in something that I always loved, writing and publishing. So I went back to the student’s seat and finished a second Masters degree. My knowledge of English was also an advantage to find work as a bridge between Americans and a burgeoning Latino market that was still growing. I immediately recognized the opportunity to become the voice of many Latinos who didn’t or couldn’t speak for themselves.
After several jobs in corporate and public service, in 1996 I started a home-based, side business. I started as a small translation company but many of my clients had little understanding of the Latino market cultural nuances. A simple translation would not deliver their message. The business took a life of its own and we became a Multicultural Marketing Communications agency.
The focus on Latina entrepreneurs came later, only three years ago, as a result of my experience as a Latina small business owner, and the need to “pay it forward.” I launched LatinasinBusiness.us as my legacy to those young Latinas starting their own struggle as entrepreneurs, to help them overcome the obstacles I had to conquer on my own. Nobody needs to do this alone; there are many resources out there to help Latina entrepreneurs and small businesses if they reach out and show up.
The Role of Latina Entrepreneurs in the U.S. Economy
RSM— Why are Latina entrepreneurs a key segment of the U.S. economy?
SB— Latinas are, as everybody knows by now, the fastest growing demographic opening businesses in the U.S. Not everybody knows, however, that they have a high rate of failure as well. And their revenue growth is not as relevant as their white female counterparts –that extends to Latino male-owned businesses as well.
By helping them grow and sustain their businesses, not only we help them. We also help close a gap in the US economy (a gap that runs in the billions of dollars,) of missed revenue and job creation opportunities. This could help the communities that Latina entrepreneurs serve, grow. Latina small businesses are American businesses. They represent almost 20% of 4.3M Latino-owned business across the country and these are big numbers!
RSM— What do you think are some advantages that Latina entrepreneurs have in this VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) business environment?
SB— The same advantages small business owners always have to hone! I will bring you another acronym, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). As a small business owner, you have to be constantly vigilant about everything that is happening around you, locally, nationally and internationally, so you can make the best decisions for your business. This principle allowed me to survive for over 20 years and constantly reinvent myself according to the circumstances and opportunities that presented themselves. An entrepreneur is a person who is constantly looking for innovation, improvement and to size up new opportunities!
Learning From Failure and What Can Latina Entrepreneurs Do Better
RSM— Understanding we are generalizing here, are there any particular areas where Latina entrepreneurs could make some adjustments to better reach their business goals?
SB— I speak about this all the time: Break out of your isolation and support each other. We work hard but tend to stay isolated, make our own decisions without bouncing off ideas of other entrepreneurs or business people. And sometimes, being your own advisor might not be the best advice!
Another important issue is that women need to support each other, something men do very well. Women tend to be more judgmental with each other –again, generalizing- and decide in the first three minutes of meeting someone if they like them or not. This judgment is usually made as a response to the other person’s appearance. We need to stop those behaviors, become more socially adept and find good in every person we meet. They might have qualities we don’t have that can help us grow as a person and as a business!
RSM— What have you learned from your own failures as a Latina entrepreneur?
SB— Looking back, when I started my business I had the idea that I was invincible and I was never going to fail. HA! I was hit hard many times. Some situations were of my own making –such as when we had to fold our beautiful bilingual newspaper Periódico Latino, because we couldn’t sustain it. Others were circumstances out of my control –such as the Great Recession of 2008-2010. In both instances, I stayed in the pity-pot for a while, and then I picked up myself and reinvented my business. Once at the bottom, I didn’t feel I had a choice other than going up. I just had to work smarter and even harder, be very persistent. Having a business involves a lot of sacrifices, long hours, lost vacation opportunities, little social life, plus being constantly on the look out for opportunities and for those who can provide them.
RSM— You offer a wonderful opportunity for Latina entrepreneurs to pitch their business and learn a ton of insights from leaders in the field. Tell us about the Latina Small Business Expo.
SB— After two successful years of conducting our “Pitch Your Business to the Media” competition, we have added the Latina SmallBiz Expo to this annual event. We want to celebrate and showcase the power of Latina entrepreneurs in the region, the driving force of many markets such as beauty, retail, clothing, telephone services, food and beverage, financial services and many more.
As I said before, Latina entrepreneurs and small businesses work in isolation. We need to get them out of that isolation and help them find the resources they need to succeed. This is another reason we have the Latina SmallBiz Expo: To bring resources such as IFundWomen, a national organization that runs crowfunding campaigns only for women’s businesses, and the Union County Economic Development Corporation (UCEDC), which is offering a discounted rate business loan through the Tory Burch Foundation. Both organizations will take applications at our event so I encourage those who are looking for funding not to miss this unique opportunity.
One last comment: We encourage the general public to attend this great event and choose LSBEPuertoRico General Admission ($10) at online registration ($15 at the door). Those tickets will be donated in full to Puerto Rico Disaster Relief. To register and for information: https://latinasbizexpo.eventbrite.com/
You can connect with Susana Baumann via social media on Twitter: @LIBizus
Facebook: LatinasinBusiness.us FB Discussion group: We are LatinasinBusiness.us
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/susanabaumann/ LinkedIn Page: LatinasinBusiness.us Discussion Group
This article was published originally on the Red Shoe Movement site.