There’s nothing more energetic and exciting than more than 600 women business owners from across the nation coming together to connect, celebrate, learn, be inspired and access resources—all to power their dreams. Austin, Texas, was the host city for this incredible event that included the National Association of Women Business Owner’s (NAWBO) National Women’s Business Conference and NextGen Forum for young, start-up and early-stage female entrepreneurs.
The conference kicked off in a sold-out exhibit hall that featured shopping, business resources and fun activities. Serial entrepreneur and author Mei Xu took the stage for a fireside chat with Bank of America’s Sharon Miller. Xu shared her story of emigrating to the U.S. and co-founding and selling Chesapeake Bay Candle. She’s now back at it again with Concord Fragrances. “If you don’t ask, you’ll never get the yes’s,” Xu said about mentors who helped her along the way.
The afternoon was filled with more fun in the exhibit hall as well as three breakout tracks to help attendees at different stages of their entrepreneurial journey grow, thrive and succeed. Topics included recruiting, the price of entrepreneurial success, the art of persuasion and more. The day wrapped up with Texas women business owners sharing big, bold moves and a Boots & Bling-themed reception.
The next morning, next generation female entrepreneurs descended on the host venue for the NextGen Forum, which was held on the second day of the National Women’s Business Conference. Small business owner and champion Rebecca Contreras wove in lessons and insights from her life story that took her from poverty and working in the White House to business ownership. “If you don’t set big, audacious goals, you’re not going to meet your regular goals,” Contreras encouraged.
Meanwhile, conference attendees were enjoying a morning of workshops on certification, franchising, delegation, IT and more. The afternoon general session brought everyone together again for an inspirational keynote from bestselling author Dr. Martha Beck. She shared her personal story of struggle and success, and offered two powerful tools for facing unprecedented change: integrity, where every aspect of yourself is aligned; and creativity. “Calm yourself down to access your creativity,” Dr. Beck suggested.
Following afternoon breakout sessions on artificial intelligence (AI), burnout, marketing and more, it was finally time—for NAWBO’s Annual National Awards Gala. The top three finalists for Women Business Owner of the Year took part in a panel during dinner. Then came the top honors. Congratulations to Susan Hager (Leadership) Award recipient Ana Fernandez-Parmet; Gillian Rudd (Advocacy) Award recipient Carnela Renee Hill; and 2023 Woman Business Owner of the Year (Overall Business Excellence) Award recipient Rebecca Geller.
NAWBO’s next in-person national event is Leadership Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina on January 28-30, 2024. Register today at nawbo.org!