With more than 200,000 women-owned businesses in Ohio -- the state ranks sixth among the 50 states in the number of women-owned firms -- women business owners are having an increasing impact on business policies and cultures, partly due to the efforts of organizations like NAWBO.
NAWBO's mission is to develop and grow strong, profitable women-owned businesses; build strategic alliances, coalitions and affiliations; transform public policy; and effect changes in the business culture.
Each year, NAWBO recognizes with its Visionary Awards members who have made significant contributions toward these goals. Here are this year's winners.
Managing partner, RMD Advertising
Reninger has been leading this Central Ohio advertising and public relations firm since 1992, when it began operation. Considered an innovator in her marketing and public relations approach, her company has captured clients including Time Warner Road Runner, OhioHealth, Panera Bread and Marzetti Foods.
Reninger credits her company's success to the people who have supported her.
"To be painfully honest, our success has nothing to do with Sue Reninger. It's due to people that I have been blessed to be around all my life," she says, naming her parents and grandparents as her principal supporters during her early years, and her employees since operating the business.
"I've recruited employees that are as passionate about the business and hold the same values as I do."
Her advice to other women business owners is to never compromise your integrity and ethics.
"We're never flawless, and running a business is tough enough," says Reninger. "Why add the additional stress by being dishonest or compromising your ethical standards for business? It's just wrong."
President, Griffin Communications Inc.
This former Columbus City Council member has 20 years of professional and community involvement experience.
She began her full-service, strategic marketing communications firm in 1992 and has earned a reputation as one of Central Ohio's top communications strategists. She is known for listening, then creatively responding with an integrated plan of action that meets her clients' bottom-line needs.
Griffin says women have two big challenges as business owners: balancing business with personal and family responsibilities, and responding to today's slow economy.
"Women tend to try to do it all, and do it all very well," Griffin says.
Griffin's family supported her during the early years of the business.
"We knew it was going to be hard, but that it could be done," she says.
Hiring a committed, caring staff has also contributed to the firm's success.
Griffin says the biggest lesson she has learned is that it is OK to fail.
"I tell a lot of women not to be afraid to fail," she says. "It will happen anyway, just learn and move on. You have to have that capability to be a business owner."
And when you hire the best employees, listen to them.
"When your employees have the same level of commitment, you need to trust them, listen to them and let them do their job."
NAWBO member of the year
President, Borchers & Assoc. Inc. DBA My Turf
Borchers is no stranger to awards and recognition. She was the 1994 recipient of the Columbus, Ohio Woman Advocate in International Trade of the Year, and the SBA's Ohio Women in Business Advocate Award in 1986.
Borchers is a former scientific researcher from Battelle Institute and the Mayo Clinic and former associate director for the Ohio Small Business Development Center. Currently, her unique business offers golf seminars and clinics, speaker's bureau, tournament coordination and skill development for golf enthusiasts.
Borchers says becoming a founding member of NAWBO was a smart business move for her.
"NAWBO is by far the most effective advocate on a local and national level for women business owners," she says. "And it helps to talk with people who are in the same situation as you, that have been there and understand what you're going through."
Borchers advises new and small businesses to take advantage of the wealth of resources available to them in Central Ohio.
"There is a prolific base of free resources and training here," she says. "You can get a lot of education quickly."
She advises business owners to join associations such as NAWBO and their trade associations.
"They provide tons of stuff to members," she says. "Business owners should definitely take advantage of these wonderful resources." How to reach: NAWBO, (614) 882-1876 or www.nawbocolumbusohio.com; RMD Advertising, (614) 939-5005 or www.rmdadvertising.com; Griffin Communications, (614) 341-6439 or www.griffincommunications.com; My Turf, (740) 569-3200 or www.myturfgolf.com