Virginia Lorimor: CEO of WIN CompanyAs an entrepreneur there will be days, many days, when you ask yourself—why? Why did I start this project? Why have I put everything I own into my passion? Why do I keep trying? Why not just give up?Then, there is silence. There is no one at the top with you. There is no one to talk you down from the impending panic attack. There is no one to bail you out. You are the one everyone is looking to for answers. You are the one who has to keep going even when you want to quit. There is no one to fire you!
Virginia Lorimor: CEO of WIN CompanyAs an entrepreneur there will be days, many days, when you ask yourself—why? Why did I start this project? Why have I put everything I own into my passion? Why do I keep trying? Why not just give up?Then, there is silence. There is no one at the top with you. There is no one to talk you down from the impending panic attack. There is no one to bail you out. You are the one everyone is looking to for answers. You are the one who has to keep going even when you want to quit. There is no one to fire you!It is easy sometimes to forget the passion that drove you to entrepreneurship. It is easy to become a firefighter, moving from one crisis to the next with no overall plan or strategy in place. It becomes much more difficult to step back and examine your business objectively, especially when you are overwhelmed, overtired, underfunded, and trying to be all things to all people in your business and personal life—what personal life? This is how I felt several years ago. I had a thriving consulting practice helping to take businesses to the next level. But I myself was isolated.Each day I watched my clients experience this same emotional rollercoaster: up days, down days, from one extreme to the next based on an e-mail or phone call. They couldn’t see how their negative and highly volatile attitudes impacted their business. They left their customers less satisfied, they generated fewer leads, and they converted fewer sales (or made less progress toward their goals, whatever they looked like). They were far less productive overall. Their efficiency was shot!My clients and I each represented the average small business owners of America. I saw a solution was needed. I envisioned a place where solo-entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small businesses could get the support of a corporate American workplace—the interaction with other like-minded talented individuals whose skills were complementary, collaborative, and more.I signed up at my local executive suite. It was a brilliant idea. NOT! I was told my rent would be $800 a month and had a slick salesman sign me up for a 12-month contract. When I received my first bill, it was for $2,400. I promptly took the bill to the office manager, dazed, and confused. “This can’t be my bill.” I professed. Boy was I wrong. My office seated three. There were three charges for everything from cleaning fees, telephone fees, kitchen access fees, Internet access fees—all of which applied whether you utilized them or not and without respect to how many people actually occupied the office.Now, you may assume I didn’t read the contract. Actually, I had. The only reference the Canadian contract made to their hidden fees related to a Handbook that was never made available to me during my tenure at that property. It was always “being revised,” with a copy “available soon.”I learned my lesson. If what I sought was a place where I could interact with top talent, stay inspired, and on top of my game, work collaboratively, and gain the economies of scale of being a much larger business than I actually was, an executive suite was not the answer!I began exploring other available concepts. I found that incubators (an idea “hatched” in the dot-com bubble days) were largely indifferent at creating successful ventures, showing only a 0.12% statistical deviation of success. Moreover, they would not accept professional service providers like me because I wasn’t seeking funding nor was I likely to provide a 30x return. Where was a home for me and other small businesses to thrive?It came to me one night while watching a PBS special on how people were moving back to communes en mass. Each individual was able to utilize their highest and best purpose and to add to the overall value of the commune. Each individual contributed what they were most passionate about and, working together, created the most productive environment. These communal living compounds were very successful around the world. Were there similar business practices successful elsewhere?Yes, there were. First, I learned that the International Labor Organization proclaimed that businesses that worked collaboratively are 50% more efficient! I wanted that.Then I looked at existing models around the world. I found them. In Israel they were funded by the government, and in Asia they were owned cooperatively by the residents. In every occurrence they were successful at creating businesses that thrived.Next, I set out to build the better habitat for growing a company here in America, our great capitalist nation. From that desire, The WIN Companies were born. The WIN Companies are a group of companies that support solo-entrepreneurs, start-up companies, and small businesses to provide them with the resources to grow smarter, stronger, and faster than going it alone.Our WIN Success Centers offer the collaborative space I had so passionately sought when starting my own business, and I added free and low-cost shared resources. Then, as I identified new needs, I began adding solutions.First, I added WIN Innovative Funding to help entrepreneurs plan, prepare, and gain funding for their ideas. As a CPA and business strategist, I realized many entrepreneurs lacked the skills to access the funds they needed to launch.Next, I added our WIN Business Accelerator program to bring economies of scale through negotiated local and national discount programs to this underserved market, allowing small businesses to save time and money and to attract top talent.Together, The WIN Companies comprise a group whose focus is on economic development.I have been asked why this is my passion many times, so I will leave you with the answer to that question. We in America have an ever increasing labor pool that is highly talented. Historically, we have also had an ever declining number of jobs. The only solution to this overwhelming economic problem is job creation through entrepreneurship and innovation.I have a beautiful son who, as I write this today, is a mere 11 years old. He understands that when he graduates college there will be no job for him, just as there are no jobs for many of those who graduate college today. He is a young entrepreneur ready to start his own companies—once he finds his passion. Other children do not have the benefit of that same preparedness. We must work together collaboratively to solve our nation’s job deficit. He inspires me daily to be a part of the solution.
* * * * *Virginia is a former Big 4 CPA who now runs Business Acceleration Centers designed to help start up businesses bootstrap their way to success. With nearly 20 years of experience in running small, mid-sized, and fortune 100 companies she has found that the most common way to success is collaboration to build a competent team thereby supplementing your personal knowledge limitations.