Guest commentary: Thinking about starting or scaling a small business? You don’t need to do it alone!

By Meghan C. Florkowski

At the WISE Women’s Business Center (WBC), we’re often asked about why we do the work we do. We love this question! The short answer is that our center is wholly dedicated to helping Central New York women achieve their potential as business owners.

At WISE, we recognize the barriers women entrepreneurs face when starting and scaling a business. We support as an expert partner to make sure the steps to starting are just a little less overwhelming and that the path to scaling is as efficient as possible.

Counseling, education, and high-impact training programs are core to our everyday work. The magic however is in the people who conduct the work.

Enjoy getting to know part of the team through a fun Q&A with our small business counselors. All counselors own their own small business and work with WISE as business consultants.

Barb Stone

Principal Owner, Build Your Path LLC

Self-described traits/approach: Meeting the client where they are; listening – focused and globally; being present

What traits do you value in a small business owner and why? 

There are so many!!! Being hardworking, asking for help, and having a learning mindset are just a few. But awareness is one of the most important traits that small business leaders need! It incorporates so many different aspects. First, awareness of yourself as a business owner. What are your values and the purpose you are reflecting in your business? Secondly, how aware are you of others? Your customers? Vendors? What do they need? And, finally, awareness of everything around you. Your market. Your environment. Your business landscape. Trends in your industry.

What is a piece of advice that you have for new business owners given the current small business landscape? 

As a new business owner steps into launching their business, they need to see this as a journey. There isn’t always a right or wrong way of doing the steps to developing your business, but you need to surround yourself with the right people, your tribe, to support you on this journey. Don’t do it alone!!! Tap into the resources in your community (hint, hint, WISE WBC) to guide you in the right direction. Ask questions, have dialogue, network, and benchmark!

Being aware will help you keep a pulse on and in your business.

Dana Zanders

Owner, Phil Financial, Inc.

Self-described traits/approach: Encouraging, attentive, goal-oriented

What is the best question you’ve received in a coaching session?

As a small business owner, what do you know now that you wish you would’ve known when you first started? What advice can you give as a result?

The journey is more important than the destination.

Trust the process! Embrace the twists and turns! Put the work in and constantly work on making improvements along the way. It’s a rewarding experience yet there are always unique challenges that can ultimately help to shape the success of your business. View each challenge as a learning opportunity. Learn from your mistakes.

What is one of your favorite questions to ask a small business owner?

What are the top three things that you would like to accomplish in your business right now?

This question often forces small business owners to dig deep to assess and prioritize the three things that currently matter most or that currently require the most attention. It also allows for responses that trigger additional discussion (questions, dialogue) to help with insight into their goals and move past potential challenges and barriers.

Kelly Wypych:

Co-Founder, Vertric Creatography

Self-described traits/approach: Tailored, supportive, results-oriented

How do you define success for a small business owner?

I have always believed that happiness needs to be considered part of everyone’s ROI. Success for a small business owner isn’t only about meeting financial and other metrics. True success includes taking the time to gain clarity about what you want your life to be like, both at work and everywhere else. Gaining the tools and skills needed to take a step back and be strategic about work and life, and then creating goals that align with this bigger vision – well, meeting these goals is the real definition of success.

What skills do you recommend owners invest in and why?

It depends on the knowledge and skills the business owner brings to the table. It’s important to be self-aware of your capabilities and get clarity about where you might have gaps.  But one thing is universal – get a coach or participate in an accountability group! Having someone on your side who can support you, challenge you, push you, and praise you makes a big difference. Being a leader in a small business can be a lonely job. Invest in yourself and your future by getting the coaching you need to feel confident and supported!


WISE WBC Small Business Counseling is offered at no cost to women who reside in Central New York (Cayuga, Cortland, Jefferson, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego counties). Topics covered range from creating a business plan and financial projections to customer acquisition and navigating resources. Interested in learning more or getting involved? Visit 

WISE is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration and is hosted by Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. WISE supports hundreds of women annually with access to training and resources to move their small business dreams forward.