Female entrepreneurs in the USA can join a women’s business network and receive necessary support and mentoring
Ladies Launch Club is a premium women’s business network which offers support to women in business in the United States who are launching or expanding startups.
After joining this online and in-person organization, Ladies Launch Club members can secure exposure for their businesses, as well as gain direct access to relevant resources.
Introductions are also facilitated with like-minded women entrepreneurs who have the shared goal of becoming successful businesswomen.
This growing community of female entrepreneurs is the brainchild of founder and CEO Kathy McShane.
Previously, New Canaan-based Kathy founded Kendrew Group, Ltd which is an award-winning, multi-million dollar marketing services organization.
Kathy is also an adjunct professor at New York University, a motivational speaker and the founder of the ‘Exceptional Women Series.’
‘Successes often come about because women are able to detach their business from themselves, they are willing to accept that their idea needs to be refined, they embrace the relationships that they make in the workshops and are willing to take some calculated risks.‘- Kathy McShane- Founder and CEO, Ladies Launch Club.
Here Kathy tells Nativa World about her business and she explains how she has become a go-to authority for female entrepreneurs who are serious about launching or expanding their businesses….
Kathy, what does the word ‘Achieve’ mean to you?
It means moving ahead and accomplishing things that I thought were outside of my comfort zone whilst having some fun at the same time. It means enjoying a feeling of exhilaration, knowing that I moved forward, almost like winking at myself.
How did Ladies Launch Club come to life?
Ladies Launch Club was born out of my passion to help women achieve their dream of starting and running a business. I had been in the corporate world for many years and always mentored women. I started a marketing company in the late 1980’s so I could have more flexibility to be with my son.
The company was a great success, and I needed to hire people. I hired women who wanted to and had to work, but they also wanted a balance in their lives. So I offered them a job-sharing situation. I was told that my clients (HBO, Showtime and JPMorgan Chase) might never allow it. Not only did they embrace it, but I got an award from Bill Gates for innovation in the workplace. Lesson here is to be willing to take some risks. Ladies Launch Club is my latest way to help women achieve their dreams.
What services does Ladies Launch Club provide?
I offer a number of programs that address where a woman is in her business life cycle. They include:
Incubator Program: This program is designed to help women articulate an idea that they have for a business. Often women come into this with an idea in mind that is foggy and unclear. After they have worked on the idea/concept for four weeks, they refine it — and some walk away from it. I was one of these women. I took this workshop with a business in mind and decided after the workshop not to start the business.
Mastermind Accountability Workshops: These help women who feel that they are losing their edge and creativity, and are feeling lonely. Being an entrepreneur can be very isolating and can lead to some bad habits. A lack of focus and not being accountable are examples. These women are interviewed to make sure that they are committed to growing both professionally and personally. They have to be aware that attaining goals is a direct result of being accountable.
Peer-to-Peer Advisory Group: This is a group of people who are similar in terms of sales, years in business and level of management. In these groups, we leverage the vast amount of experience that the participants bring to the group. It is very much boots-on-the-ground, which means we tackle meaty and important issues. The expectation of these groups is to develop out-of-the box ideas, determine how to work with small budgets and competition, and deal with issues as they come up.
Brown Bag Lunches: Six to eight women meet and introduce themselves. I ask them what the group can do to help them. It’s almost like speed dating. We go around very quickly, and it’s amazing the solutions that are uncovered.
Ladies Who Made History: This is a contest where women submit an essay saying why they should win $1,000. Four women are chosen and awarded the money the night of the gala.
Ongoing Networking Events: These are designed with four objectives in mind:
- To introduce women to a new venue (which is hosting us)
- To have an inspirational/motivational speaker talk about her journey — one who appears to have it all but has in fact met obstacles in her life
- For women to meet me
- To have women meet other women with whom they can do business.
Webinar Series: Each webinar series runs for one to four weeks. We meet via Zoom web conferencing, and there is an agenda that is followed. During the webinars, the participants submit questions for discussion. Recent webinar topics have included:
- How to Write a Book
- How to Market a Book
- DIY Marketing
- How to Get Paid Speaking Gigs
Promote the Platinum Members: As part of the paid membership program , the ladies get exposure on my website and in my social media, are featured in my newsletter and receive public relations opportunities.
How has your business changed since its inception?
I had to adapt to the changing needs of my clients. Many do not want to be part of a live group and prefer to “click” in to an online session. So these days, I do much more with the ladies remotely: more webinars, more telephone calls and more putting groups together to collaborate. Originally, I only worked in New York and Connecticut. But then people from California started to reach out and ask to work with me. The most efficient way to serve this market was through technology. With my local ladies, I try to attend one of their in-person meetings every month to add my expertise. But my West Coast clients do everything online.
What successes have you enjoyed?
I have one client who started a Mastermind Accountability Workshop with the idea of introducing a line of stuffed toys. It soon became clear that the idea she had was much bigger than just stuffed toys. After working with the team members, she developed the idea of creating a Mr. Rogers-type show where she was the star, created the music and developed the themes for each of the shows. She is now pitching the idea to various networks, and two have expressed interest in producing the show.
You have authored The Survivor’s Guide for Female Entrepreneurs, how did you select your case studies and did you encounter any challenges during the authoring process?
I selected the entrepreneurial women based upon a few criteria: I wanted women who met my definition of a mentor, I wanted the topics to be things that women could immediately implement, and I wanted the topics to be immediately relevant to readers.
I had a few hurdles along the way during the authoring process. There are two that are most amazing to me (because I can’t believe I did them). The first is I didn’t line people up early on in the process to read the book and give me testimonials. I also struggled with the front cover of the book. I simply could not get a visual in my head. I finally got it and had to do a photo shoot. These two things cost me quite some time.
You teach ‘competitive intelligence’ at NYU, how does this factor into the services available at Ladies Launch Club?
Competitive intelligence (CI) is not only about your competitors but it’s about gaining insight into opportunities and early warning signals. It’s about looking at the entire landscape of your company and all the factors that ensure success. It’s about minimizing risk and avoiding being blindsided. CI allows management to make intelligent decisions based upon the information that is uncovered.
One of my favorite examples of this is Blockbuster and Netflix. Blockbuster only looked at their direct competitors. Meanwhile, Netflix was a new entrant that basically put Blockbuster out of business.
I definitely believe that CI factors into my success, and I use this skill to work with my ladies. We can become complacent. We tend to do things the way we have always done them. We must be able and willing to re frame the world as it is changing. Keep track of your customers and be sure that you keep your eye on the ball for new, less expensive entrants coming into the market. What new technology will impact your business? My antenna is always up for these shifts.
Which Ladies Launch Club members are distinctive to you?
One woman who attended an Incubator Workshop had an idea for a line of skincare products that she wanted to distribute to retailers. The products were high end and have very effective ingredients. The woman was clear about what she wanted to be making in two years. After looking at the number of retailers who would be candidates, we realized that she would not be able to achieve her goals. The group recommended that she distribute through HSN in the United States. This summer (after eight months), she got a contract and is now selling her products on-air.
This shows that successes often come about because entrepreneurial women are able to detach their business from themselves, they are willing to accept that their idea needs to be refined, they embrace the relationships that they make in the workshops and are willing to take some calculated risks.
Which female entrepreneurs will shine in the United States this year?
I believe that the “riches are in the niches.” Entrepreneurial women who will shine are going to pick a market segment and aggressively go after it. They will know that they can’t be all things to all people. The successful women will think big; they will push themselves to get out of their comfort zone and really go for it. They will realize that they can’t have it all. If they are committed to their business, they will have to strike a balance with their family life. This is okay, and they won’t feel badly about it. They will have a clear vision and a plan to achieve it. They will know that success is not all about them. It’s about the team that they have hired and their success. They will be careful to be themselves in the workplace; however, they will keep others’ emotions at a distance.
I am inspired by a number of people, but one in particular is Linda McMahon, who was a professional wrestling magnate. Linda is notable for her career at WWE during which the company grew from a small regional business to a large multinational corporation. Today, she is a major supporter of a number of charities in the arts, education, families in need, hospital environments and the entrepreneurial space.
Unbeknown to most, when Linda was younger, she and her husband filed for bankruptcy. She had one child and one on the way at the time and they were receiving food stamps.
Linda also ran for United States Senate twice and lost and it was during her second run for Senate that I met her. What struck me about her was how unassuming she is. She is not ashamed to say that she has had some major setbacks in her life, or that she has made some pretty significant mistakes. However, it is clear from her success that she didn’t let those setbacks hold her back. She is a woman who has achieved great things and is willing to share the fruits of her success with others and is always available to talk about new ideas. She is a woman of integrity and courage. And, her laugh is contagious!
What challenges do Millennial entrepreneurs face?
This is a mixed bag. Technology — and this group is really tech-savvy — allows for more flexibility and efficiency. Because they grew up with email and texting, they sometimes have difficulty staying on task. This will make it harder for them to be entrepreneurs. They are also not willing to sacrifice their work/life balance. As entrepreneurs, we are often lonely. This might impact them because they like to know that what they are doing is important, and they like working on teams.
What’s your definition of a good mentor?
A mentor is someone who really cares about helping their mentee to succeed. It’s a person who has achieved success and who is respected by others. Mentors have a great way of asking the right questions in order to get the other person to talk. I like my mentor to be candid with me, share with me the things that I am doing well and those that I need to improve. It’s someone who I feel inspired and motivated by.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I believe that most entrepreneurial women have to work at this, especially if they have children. When my children were younger, this was something that I worked hard to achieve. I was sure to carve out time for school functions and to workout or take a vacation. It’s much easier now that my children are grown; however, every now and then, I find myself at my desk long after I should be there.
What’s next for you, Kathy?
I would very much like to be part of Richard Branson’s Mentoring Program. I also would like to start a TV show. Almost like a mini Shark Tank that will be geared toward Millennials who are developing products/services in the technology space. Nothing would give me more pleasure than helping young entrepreneurs launch a business.
Photography courtesy of Kathy McShane