Sandra Yancey built eWomenNetwork, a company dedicated to helping women find business, information and transaction leads. With over 100 chapters in North America, Sandra Yancey knows how to build a successful business. Here, she shares her tips -- focusing on the power of giving, the importance of delegating, and why access is the key to your success.
Where did the idea for eWomenNetwork come from?
It developed in 1999 when I started to network and observed the ole boy network. I had had my own consulting practice for 7 years and never needed to network. But I was always on the road to see my clients, and my children were little.
I lived in Dallas – and less than 10 miles from my house were the offices of Frito Lay, Countrywide, Cadbury Schweppes and more – but none of them were my clients. My husband said “They’re probably flying in people when they have you right in their backyard – it would be better for both of you if you consulted to them.” He was right.
It was then that I was really fully introduced to the good ole boy network. I wasn’t mad. I was in awe. I thought -- These guys have got it going on – supporting each other, sharing information, bringing their protégés along. But I didn’t want to be fan. I wanted to be in the game.
Someone suggested I join a women’s network, so I did. It was very social. Women did everything in pairs – registered together, sat together and left together – and then complained that they weren’t getting anything out of it. I thought – something is missing here. There has to be a bridge for women to have a true revenue-generating environment – where they can be very serious about who they are, what they do, what they need in the next 30 days, and what they’re going to purchase personally and professionally – so that they can share contacts.
I thought -- If I’m feeling this way, thousands of other women must feel the same. I did the research and found that women were starting businesses at the rate of 2 to 1 to men. But less than 2% of all women entrepreneurs ever break a million dollars in revenue.
So I decided to create an environment about giving – based on the premise that the more you help others, the more women will reciprocate.
Therein lies the startup of eWomenNetwork. There are now 113 chapters across the U.S. and Canada – all run by businesswomen.
To what do you attribute its (and your) success?
My greatest success is getting out of my own way. In the early days I wasn’t really functioning as the CEO – I was behaving like the COE – chief of everything. This is a very common, fatal path that many entrepreneurs take. We have the mindset -- “Nobody can do it quite like me,” or, “I gotta do it all if it’s going to be done right.” This path is exhausting, lonely, unproductive – and ultimately fatal.
We wear this multitasking thing as a badge of honor. Success today is not about being good – it’s about developing excellence. You need to be able to focus. You can’t be all things to all people all the time.
If you want to keep your customers, you have to constantly elate them. Once you define what that looks like, it doesn’t have to be done your way.
Here’s how to elate your customers – without being the COE:
a.) Define what customer experience will be.
b.) Surround yourself with smart people.
c.) Be in alignment.
d.) Get out of their way and let them to do a better job than you could ever do.
Focus on the things you do well so that you can generate the revenue to hire other people to do the things you’re not good at. You don’t even have to have a staff to build a $1 million business. You can use technology and outsourcing and build partnerships and affiliations.
What is the one thing most important to creating success as a woman?
Access. You have to have a clear vision and a clear passion, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful. You have to have a great business model, but that doesn’t make you successful. You have to have a website today. People need to be able to find you. You need a business card – a quality business card. But that doesn’t make you successful.
All these things you have to have – but they don’t guarantee you’ll be successful. We need access to new ideas, to new ways of thinking, to re-strategize and reposition our business – to get new customers and new leads. Your future and your fortune lie more in the people you don’t know than the people you know. You have to let people know you’re there. You need to know people to meet other people. It’s fundamental to success.
Sandra Yancey is the founder & CEO of eWomenNetwork, producer of the GLOW Project and an ABC radio show host. She has received the Excellence in Leadership from the Euro-American Women’s Council, Athens Greece, Entrepreneur Star Award from Microsoft, Woman Advocate of the Year Award from Women’s Regional Publishing, and American Hero by CNN. She is an impassioned philanthropist dedicated to helping women and girls succeed.