Business with a twist

Later this month, you’ll have a chance to hear a pretzel baroness tell how she navigated the twists and turns of entrepreneurship to build a multimillion-dollar company. But more about that later.

We at Smart Business have found that one of the most useful tools for women to improve their business skills is the annual Building a World-Class Business conference and networking event hosted by Seton Hill University’s National Education Center for Women in Business. This year’s event, “This Way Up,” is slated for Tuesday, March 15, at the Westin Convention Center.

Again this year, Smart Business has chosen to serve as a sponsor.

The reality is that members of every group are opting to start their own businesses, whether out of preference or necessity. It may be easier than ever to start a business, but it’s no easier to make one successful. That’s why business owners need every advantage they can muster to make the grade. “This Way Up” offers some ways to get that boost.

Women-owned businesses in aggregate continue to be powerful generators of wealth, jobs and income. The problem is that many find it difficult to grow past a few employees. Even with cheap and plentiful capital available, some women continue to report difficulty securing adequate financing for their enterprises.

Others still find that some men — and women — don’t take them seriously as entrepreneurs.

As with past installments, this year’s conference offers plenty of practical wisdom to take back to your office to overcome the obstacles. Keynote speaker Anne Beiler, founder and CEO of Auntie Anne’s Inc., franchisor of the world’s largest mall-based pretzel franchise, will tell you how she grew her business to $234 million in systemwide sales in 2003.

And the morning and afternoon breakout sessions will help you untwist some of your business problems by bringing you face-to-face with experts who have been there and done that.

And, of course, the event isn’t just for women. Men, too, can learn plenty by attending. You can register and find out more about “This Way Up,” and discover help for your business year-round, at