WBOC’S LEADING WOMAN: Debbie Bilello
BY ALYSSA LAFARO | PHOTO BY CINDY BELL
“I’m a little late to the party in being a business owner,” admits Debbie Bilello. No matter. Her 25-plus years of experience in office management and administration have brought her up to par. Not only is she the proud owner of almost 3-year-old Virtual Office Solutions — a business in which she helps clients with any bookkeeping, paperwork, or other administrative tasks they might need done — but she holds the position of Administrator on WBOC’s board of directors just after a few years of membership.
“Because of my experience with administrative tasks and bookkeeping,” she explains, “I was approached early on for the administrator position by the board.” And that’s not all Debbie has achieved so far through WBOC. She also had the honor of presenting there. She spoke this past November on mobile technology for businesses. “I gave an overall presentation on apps that might help small business owners or entrepreneurs become more efficient in their time management and task management.”
But how can someone so “late to the game” be so efficient with technology? Because she lacks the fear of it that many of her fellow baby boomers just can’t seem to kick. “Plus, a lot of my business is done virtually,” she adds. “I have to have things in the cloud through sites like Dropbox or Google Guide. I really enjoy technology, and it’s so much fun to dive into those kinds of programs. I like to think I can help others become less afraid.”
Debbie has had enough experience conquering fears that it’s no surprise she handles technology with such grace. In 2009, Debbie was informed that she had lost her job at a local municipality. And of all days, it was New Year’s Eve. “Luckily, I had made a connection with Joanne Del Balso, a WBOC member. We had met through my brother, who owns a golf course. I did his bookkeeping, and she was his tax accountant. After I lost my job, she said to me: ‘Why don’t you just do this on your own?’ She was my first point of contact with WBOC.”
In the fall of 2010, Debbie attended her first meeting. “I could not believe how much positive energy was in that room,” she recounts. “I thought, ‘This is a dream come true.’ I had all these successful business women around me who were really supportive of other women in business. I thought, ‘I can do this.’”
And she did. Today, Debbie works five consistent clients a month and a handful of others intermittently. And WBOC has stuck with her all the way. “The referrals alone are unbelievable,” she explains. “Everybody looks out for everybody else and really encourages growth within the organization. If someone at WBOC is looking for a bookkeeper or office administrator, both the WBOC board and members will refer those people to me. I can honestly say that most of my business has come from a connection to WBOC.”
Debbie says she’d love to increase membership in getting younger women in business to join the organization. She says WBOC is already working on this goal, but she’d love to help out more if possible. “I think of my situation and how much later I came into WBOC as a business owner. Just imagine the possibilities for young women entrepreneurs. If they could eliminate the fear of being young in the business world and get the encouragement and support early on, then nothing could stop them.”
But is being late to the party really such a bad thing? Debbie Bilello looks good doing it.
The WBOC is a local non-profit organization that has been providing support to women and access to innovative events and workshops for 20 years. Whether running our own business, working for an employer or launching a new endeavor, women are connected through their entrepreneurial mindset. Syracuse Woman Magazine is a WBOC signature sponsor that aims to promote a common mission. For information on how to become a member, visit www.wboconnection.org.