Look behind most successful women and you’ll usually find more women. This is certainly the case for Savoury City’s Donna Wadsworth. Indeed, her ascension in the competitive world of custom catering is, in part, due to the strong, knowledgeable and wise women with whom she surrounds herself. One group in particular, The Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, has had a consistent and continuous influence on her life in business. I sat down with Donna to talk more about this organization and how it has helped her become one of the most respected and sought-after custom caterers in the Lower Mainland.
Can you tell me a little about the Forum?
Well, it’s an organization that started in about 2002 or 2003. It’s all about bringing women together, not for minutiae, but for the bigger aspects of creating or starting a business. You’ve got a great idea, but how do you launch this in the world that is so filled with noise! And, what is a great idea? This is the central question that the FWE initially helps with. What is a great idea and if you have a genuine one, how is it going to work?
Beyond the big ideas, how did the FWE assist you running your business?
In so many ways! In 2006, I did their “E-Series” which was incredibly helpful! Originally it was 6 months long and intensive. Everyone comes out of it exhausted but so pumped! It’s about providing an in-depth education: Marketing, HR, SEO, venture capitalism, how to get sponsorships, how to get into international markets…so many facets! We all agreed that taking their education series was like earning a mini MBA!
Do you still have a relationship with them now?
Oh yes! I have an ongoing relationship with them because I believe so passionately in what they do and I’ve become friends with them. Savoury City also takes care of all their catering needs, which is fabulous.
How influential was FWE in terms of your business success?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without them! They taught me things that no one tells you, like how to deal with HR issues or negotiate overseas contracts. Even things like reading your balance sheet! There are so many things that you just don’t know that they helped me understand! Often people will come with an idea for a business based on, for instance, baking pies, and that’s great but have you thought through what running a business actually entails? What your bottom line is? How many pies you’ll have to sell to make a living? Often what seems like a good idea for a business, in theory, is not in actuality.
FWE seems like a great way for women to support each other in a traditionally male-dominated field. Can you comment on that?
FWE is mainly comprised of women, although men are allowed to come and play. They are mentors and a part of it, but, yes, our mentors are mainly women–women with an incredible amount of knowledge and experience to share! One of the great aspects of FWE is their ability to connect people. If you are having an issue with HR, they can connect you with an HR specialist, for example. They can help open doors that you can’t necessarily open without their connections and that is invaluable!