The Power Behind PowerLink

Published in The Women's Voice newspaper

Although the number of women owned businesses has been steadily growing over the past several years, Barbara Moore and Ilana Diamond found it interesting that these businesses seemed to reach a plateau then cease further growth. They put their heads and their combined experiences together to see what could be done to assist women in making their business show a larger profit.

Moore, at that time, was involved with MIT Forum where business owners had the opportunity to present their business plan and receive expert feedback, all in one evening. Moore and Diamond expanded on this idea and used it as a model to form PowerLink. In 1992 PowerLink was incorporated as a non-profit organization .

"We had no real expectations," Moore said, "we just knew it would work." She said she is always amazed at the amount of commitment, loyalty and responsibility the advisors share toward the business owner and her goals.

Lee Ann Munger of Graphics & Artworks is a past president of PowerLink and says that the business owner must be ready to use the services of the organization. "She may hear some things about her business that she doesn't want to hear, or be advised to make some changes she isn't ready to make yet. But the end result is well worth the effort."

Just how does PowerLink work? It is comprised of a Board of Directors, all volunteers. This Board of Directors encompasses several different advisory panels. Twice each year applications are reviewed and companies are selected to participate in the program. The choices are made based on the companies which show potential to effectively utilize an advisory panel and also on PowerLink's ability to assist the company's growth. Other qualifications are considered as well, such as a minimum of two years of operation and at least two employees. Annual revenues are reviewed to ascertain whether or not the company is currently profitable and objectives are examined with explicit reasons for seeking PowerLink's assistance in meeting those objectives. After a company is chosen the specific areas of expertise in which the business requires assistance are determined and professionals are chosen who can guide the company. Besides having a panel to suggest ways of overcoming barriers to success, there is a quarterly meeting with the Board of Directors. This is for a one-year period, after that the company is monitored and help is available if needed.

Bob Kollar of Schneider Downs is the current president of PowerLink and has been involved with the organization since 1993. "I find," he said, "that working with PowerLink really does help the woman business owner by concentrating on areas that need attention, in addition to pointing out other possible weak spots which need to be addressed." Kollar said that over 30 businesses have been helped in the last seven years.

Women who have availed themselves of the expertise of the PowerLink Board of Directors are thrilled with the results that have been achieved. Their businesses have grown and they are showing greater profits for their efforts.

Marji Dickson, owner of Accounting w Computers, has been associated with the organization in various ways over the years, first as a company receiving help, then as a member of different panels, and finally the last two years as a member of the Board of Directors. "PowerLink," she said, "has been able to give some direction to companies, setting them on the right path to success. Of course, like anything else, how much they get out of it is determined by how much they put into it."

Another advocate is Amy Ed, President of 3 Rivers Cellular. "It's a wonderful organization," she said, "that enables you to broaden your horizons and move on to the next level. I'd recommend it to any woman wanting to expand her business." Through her association with PowerLink, Ed was able to see where she needed to focus her efforts in order to move her company from a plateau to achieve more customers and increased profits. "It was a lot of work, but it's the best thing that could have happened to me," she said.

For more information about PowerLink call Bob Kollar at Schneider Downs 412-261-3644 x213.

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