I was honored to be invited to speak at a series of panel discussions held by the U.S. Small Business Administration to commemorate National Hispanic Heritage Month. Moderators, Mark Madrid and Bibi Hidalgo, introduced the guest speaker, administrator Guzman, the first Latina appointed by the president to run a trillion dollar agency that has been working tirelessly to stabilize the U.S. economy in a time of crisis.
Administrator Guzman led the discussion, Testimonies of Excellence and Pride, which I was a part of, along with other panelists: Teresa Razo, CEO and owner of Cambalachee and Villa Roma Argentine and Italian Restaurants; Ryan Bethencourt, CEO of Wild Earth; and Shannon Jacques, Chief Development Officer of the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber.
As part of the panel, I had the opportunity to hear others talk about the unique journeys their companies have embarked on, how they have impacted the economic ecosystem, and how COVID-19 challenged them last year. I also got to share my own observations and Wovenware’s successes and challenges. As a digital transformation consultancy, as well as a member of a successful federal government contractor team, I was asked what advice I would share with others that could help them succeed during this pivotal time.
One saying came to mind as I prepared to share my thoughts, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity”, and that is certainly true for everything. I believe that continuous learning should be a focus for all members of an organization, no matter what career path they may be on. Learning is what prepares you for any situation and, in this field, you need to be prepared. You have to be willing to work hard and connect with others who will open new doors for you. It is important to figure out your end goal and strategize how you can get there.
Due to COVID-19, our main focus was placed upon our staff, and we were among the lucky ones. We’re fortunate to be in an industry where remote work is possible. Our team was able to go to the office, pick up the equipment needed, and work from home. But, reaching out to them on an individual level, figuring out what they needed to continue to flourish in a time of crisis was imperative.
Teresa Razo shared how her business pivoted by turning its restaurants into a marketplace, due to the fact that products were scarce. She thanks the support system around her that helped her refocus her business. Shannon Jacques on the other hand, centered ideas around what her firm needed to do to help other businesses. She believes that work ethic was her priority. By showing up, setting the example, and learning how to delegate, she presented traits that go hand in hand with continuous learning and that should be implemented daily so as to be prepared for future challenges.
Something that stuck with me long after the panel was the fact that it doesn’t matter how different our stories might be, the key element that connects us is innovation- in how we adapt and pivot to meet challenges and opportunities. I’ve previously mentioned this and will continue to, because innovation will keep pushing us forward and grants us the ability to continue to grow as small businesses.
I would like to thank Administrator Guzman and moderators, Bibi Hidalgo and Mark Madrid, for allowing me to participate in this panel. We at Wovenware are committed to tackling every obstacle and celebrating our journey as a Latinx small business that’s growing every day.