Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Times are tight. But don’t tell that to Dawn Jackson, president of Women Business Owners of Prince George’s County. She’s telling her group’s members not to participate in the recession.

“Women must work smarter and harder,” Ms. Jackson says.

The county is home to an estimated 19,000 female entrepreneurs, according to the Prince George’s business and licensing office. Many of them are running both their businesses and their households.

That’s why Ms. Jackson is partnering with the county’s Minority Business Development Division and the Small Business Initiative to provide a day of networking and relief for female business owners today.

“We turn on the news, and we see it in the newspaper about the recession and all the negative things associated with it. People are struggling. We are all experiencing it. But when we come together and bring our collective strength, then we can turn things around,” said Ms. Jackson.

On Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., female entrepreneurs will gather for the fourth annual Women’s Business and Wellness Conference at 3400 Pennsy Drive in Landover. Prince George’s County’s first lady, Leslie Johnson, will welcome the conference attendees. This year’s theme is “It’s All About Me.”

“It’s literally a day designed just for us. We are the caregivers. We are the ‘Get it done no matter what it takes.’ Usually, we are sacrificing ourselves, our health,” said Ms. Jackson, who owns a marketing company. “I am a business owner. I run this organization. I am a wife and the mother of four children. I was leading the stress train.”

The workshops, which will begin at 9 a.m., include “Effective Closing Techniques to Expand Your Business,” “Building Partnerships and Teaming to Grow Your Business,” “A Leap of Faith, Leaving the Work Force to Start A Business” and “Turning Your Passion Into Profit.”

The workshops will be led by Terri Holley, a life coach and networking expert, and Dr. Angela Marshall, a cardiologist/internist. Dr. Christine M. Bussey will deliver the keynote address on the dangers of heart disease.

Asked about the common mistakes female business owners make, Ms. Jackson recalled her own experiences. “I failed to plan. I had worked for Black Entertainment Television, and I never changed my work ethic. I was running my business like an employee,” she said. “At BET, I had an expense account for business travel. When I started NuDawn Marketing, I still needed to travel. But I did not plan for that expense. I ran up $40,000 in debt. I was a business failure. Luckily, I had a support system in my husband.”

Ms. Jackson did not allow the setback to deter her. She began attending monthly meetings with other female business owners. “The minute I started talking with other women and hearing about their challenges and learning how they handled their mistakes, I became empowered,” she said. “That’s what the organization is all about. We want to empower, educate and support women business owners of Prince George’s County. We are here with open arms.”

This event for women is one in a series to help businesses and residents stay afloat. In June, the county will host the Coping In Extraordinary Times conference.

“We often wear this ‘S’ on our chest, and we keep going and going and going,” Ms. Jackson said. “This time we get to do something for our business and really hear what we need to take care of us.”

Renee Tinsley is a freelance writer living in Prince George’s County.

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