Fanning the entrepreneurial fire Featured

9:39am EDT July 22, 2002

Sharing ideas is a way of business life for Kelly Borth, outgoing president of the local National Association of Women Business Owners chapter.

For the past two years, Borth, president of GREENCREST, has led the organization in its aim to advance women entrepreneurs toward economic, social and political achievement.

As a woman entrepreneur herself, Borth has seen the benefits of establishing relationships with other business owners in many different ways.

“I’m very passionate for small business, and maybe it’s because we’re a small business,” she says of her own company, an eight-employee marketing, advertising and public relations agency. “It seems like years ago, when the business first started, we met with a number of women-owned businesses that we recognized needed more than just marketing support — they needed some business support.”

As a member of the Women’s Network for Entrepreneurial Training, Borth has mentored four local women business owners.

“I learn as much from them as they probably learn from me,” she says. “It’s wonderful to see the entrepreneurial fire that they have.”

She gets fulfillment, she says, in helping them through the beginning business stages that seem easy to her now but are beyond the scope of experience of an early entrepreneur.

Borth, herself, has been a protégé, benefiting from the wisdom of Contract Sweepers & Equipment President Tom Maish in a mentoring program through the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce.

“Tom and I continue to meet maybe once a year and continue that relationship,” she says, adding that she also carries on relationships with the entrepreneurs she mentors.

“You don’t lose your ties with individuals,” she says. “In a lot of ways I think my clients have been mentors to me. We work with so many dynamic entrepreneurial companies that are fast growing and deal with some of the same growth issues.”

Sharing information becomes a typical part of the relationships she has with the CEOs of her client businesses.

She also shares her own expertise through her involvement in community organizations such as the Heinzerling Foundation, Center for New Directions and Marburn Academy, as well as professional memberships, such as the Advertising Federation of Columbus, where she was the driving force behind the opening of the Advertising Techniques School to teach the “street-smart side” of the business to those just entering the field.

NAWBO offers her yet another opportunity to share ideas and experiences.

“I have formed some professional friendships that are very meaningful,” she says. “I’ve also exercised my opportunity to utilize some of those women-owned businesses for services that my business needs. There’s a lot of strength, I think, and trust, when you’ve had the opportunity to get to know them at a different level.”

Under her presidency the past two years, the local NAWBO membership has doubled to about 65, attendance is excellent and NAWBO has become more recognized. “I cannot single-handedly take credit for any of it,” Borth says. “We have a great board, and I was just lucky enough to serve as their president those few years.” Joan Slattery Wall (jwall@sbnnet.com) is associate editor of SBN Columbus.