Featured Member – Tammy Kniffin

Tammy Kniffin

Tammy Kniffin

When did you start your business and how has it evolved since then?

I have dreamed of somehow serving other parents of special needs children for some time. I have the unique perspective of not only being the parent of two children with special needs, but also a special education teacher and a school counselor. I know that I can use these collective experiences to support and connect with other parents. It just took a while to find the way to accomplish this. So, although ideas and plans have been festering for a while, the culmination of all this officially launched June 29th 2010, as the Global Alliance of Special Needs Support.

What do you love about being a female entrepreneur?

I love putting my energy and passion into something that has so much potential to help others and at the same time is such a blessing to my life. It feels good…and scary to know that I have the potential to do big things, if I choose to step out in faith and if I choose to put myself out there for the benefit of others. I am a “behind the scenes” person and I love that being an entrepreneur pushes me out of that comfort zone and into areas that challenge me. It means so much to me that my daughter sees me stepping out on faith, trusting God and working hard to make my dream come true.

How does your faith play out in your business?

That’s an interesting question. On the one hand I know that God has a hand in whether my business succeeds or not and yet I know that I am the determining factor based on how much I put into it, how much drive I have and how hard I work. God will allow me to succeed or fail, I have to decide which it will be. It has taken me time to get to a point in my faith where I believe God is ok with success. Success does not equal “worldly”. God wants to bless us and see us succeed, but sometimes we get in our own way by giving in to fear, being too comfortable with the status quo and not dreaming BIG.

What is your BIG DREAM for your business?

I have several… the BIG dream is to reach so many families who need this type of help and support. I keep thinking what if there is someone who needs these things, but they don’t hear about us, how can I let people know about our community of support? This drives me to push myself when I don’t want to. It is a challenge for me to set specific BIG goals, having faith in what I cannot see. So I am going to make myself set a big goal and share it with all of you. I am working and praying for a membership of 500 by the end of 2010.

What 3 tips would you share with a friend who is launching her own entrepreneurial adventure?

  • Believe in yourself and your ideas. Give credence to them and pursue them.
  • Invest in yourself!  You need coaching and support, and you have to make it happen.
  • Somebody needs what you have to offer but they can’t find it if you don’t put it out there!

Tammy Kniffin
Global Alliance of Special Needs Support

Featured Member – Linda Neal

Linda Neal

When did you start your business and how has it evolved since then?

I began the basics of starting a business in 2006. I actually opened an office just off of the square in historic downtown McKinney in 2007. Business was better than I expected and all trends looked promising. Then the economy and family illness arrived on the doorstep during 2008 and 2009. Clients went out of business, and many could not pay their bills for my services.  It was not a pleasant time. The experience of others was a real life wake up call to ‘Small Business America’. Many of you are runners, I experience hitting the wall. Just wasn’t sure what the next step should be. But I could not imagine doing anything else. As the business evolved so did I.

A very important factor to be aware of is this is not only about business growth, it is about personal growth.  The business and personal identity can morph. That is why it is so necessary to know your mission and be true to it and yourself. 2010 is going to be a remarkable year. My vision for the company has solidified.  As I reflect on the down times, I see what a force those situations played in developing my stamina, determination, and belief that I can have the best company because of the values, ethics, and care I provide to my clients and others in my sphere of influence. I shored up the basics in managing a business and the dreams and goals are materializing.

What do you love about being a female entrepreneur?

This is the best time in history to be a female entrepreneur. People are reading about us. Recognizing our skills and abilities. They know that we ‘do business’ differently that men ‘do business’.  These are all positives. We still have to prove ourselves but, we have always had to do that in any arena that was not stereotypical female. We need to take the ball and run with it now. Now is the time to instill our values and ethics into the business world.  Did you know that August 26th, 2010 is the 90th Anniversary of the ratification of the Women’s Right to Vote?  That is not that long ago if you think about it in the years of a lifetime. Think about your Grandmother and what her life may have been. I’m sure she received some backlash and heckles. Today, it is such an accepted part of our life we don’t give it a second thought. I am most grateful for  the amazing women that have blazed the trail for me.

How does your faith play out in your business?

After the period of down time with the business and family, I find it easier to push back on the fear and anxiety that comes with trying new ideas. It can be real scary when your only source of income is yourself.  Because of that period in my life I developed a much closer relationship to God.  I always felt secure in my beliefs and the depth of my love of Christ but... was I ever fooled. It’s a real awaking when you experience true grace at a much greater intensity. This business is going to be ok. That I know. It may look differently in time, but it (and I) will be ok. The one thing I do want to mention is that each day I get up and ask myself, ‘What is God going to show me today’? This makes my day a challenge or game to see what adventure is there for me to grasp.

What is your BIG DREAM for your business?    This is the Dynamite Part of the business.

I expect that Numbers Count will grow in clients and broaden its base of services. I am teaching classes and providing start-up business coaching. Today, we are part of a global community even something seemingly locally based as accounting can be performed anywhere due to the secure network setups available.  Part of my goal is to provide job opportunities for women. This is a very difficult time in the economy. There are so many gaps in the system that many fall through and do not have a safety net. I want to provide income relief for women that are lost. A new start-up for me is the Chameleon Group. It is a networking organization that will refer, mentor, and support the members and others in the community. There will be ongoing classes, book study groups on women in business and business strategies, monthly partnering for support and exchange of business ideas, and a Business Directory for members and a small business office co-op for owners that only require limited services in a shared environment. The focus is that women business owners have the ability and the will to change the economies of life. We can drive our businesses to success through our Creativeness, Collaboration, and Connecting. (Sound familiar Diane? I mentioned that when I saw those words on your website I knew it was a sign for me to participate).The members will be grounded in Christian beliefs and will respect each other in the manner she chooses to worship. I believe strongly in Leading by Example. This faith based organization will be a subtle yet a powerful source of accountability and empowerment.

What 3 tips would you share with a friend who is launching her own entrepreneurial adventure?

  • Find your passion, it will pay you well.
  • Develop your faith, business expertise, and support systems
  • Have fearless fun
  • I’ve got a 4th- Join National Organization of Christian Women Entrepreneurs.

Linda D. Neal, MBA

Numbers Count

Featured Member – Cathy Alford

Cathy Alford

1. When did you start your business and how has it evolved since then?

My coaching practice began part-time 6 years ago and my practice as grown as I've continued to hone my personal style of coaching and the specific areas of interest to me . Since that time it has evolved into a full-time practice and partnership with a Christian Counselor, called LifeWorks Resource Group. My time is spent in individual coaching as well as team coaching at both profit and nonprofit organizations. As a Gallup StrengthsFinder and ICF Coach, I enjoy helping others identify their natural talents, coaching toward excellence in all areas of life where a goal exists.

2. What do you love about being a female entrepreneur?

My love for being a female entrepreneur centers on the sensitivity and care we as women have when we combine our hearts and talents. I find women entrepreneurs to be a strong connecting link among others. There seems to be a strong sisterhood among those of us who have a business yet see it a collaboration among other gifted women to accomplish something great in the community.

3. How does your faith play out in your business?

My faith is most likely seen in the way I made decisions and choices throughout my day. I know my values and am committed to living out those values. While walking in my faith, I use it in business as a guide for my work. If a client doesn't want faith-based coaching, I understand and honor their preferences as the client. If that is a part of their life journey, I always enjoy the deep discussion that might come from adding a spiritual perspective. My partner and I both believe that we serve others because Christ serves us. We extend a philosophy of servant leadership through our words and actions.

4. What is your BIG DREAM for your business?

My BIG DREAM is to be busy (1 workshop per week) conducting StrengthsFinder workshops across the country. I would love to see a passion ignite in churches for how - together - we combine our unique strengths to function cohesively as teams with respect and honor for our differences. Together we accomplish so much more than any of us can separately. StrengthsFinder development is empowering and motivating to showcase those opportunities.

5. What 3 tips would you share with a friend who is launching her own entrepreneurial adventure?

  • Know your talents and find mentors / advisers with talents you need to augment your team.
  • Know your passion, and brand yourself according to your niche / market / calling. In difficult times, it's easy to try and latch on to any new type of business that might be a revenue stream and I believe it is important to stay focused on your initial passion and build that brand.
  • Surround yourself with accountability support partners and people of integrity who can offer different views other than your own. It is important to see all sides of an opportunity - not just what you hope to hear.

Cathy Alford, MA, ACC
LifeWorks Resource Group
ICF Professional Life Coach


Featured Member – Kristi Brooks Olson

Kristi Brooks Olson

1.     When did you start your business and how has it evolved since then?

I started my Life Purpose Coaching business officially in July 2008.  I started out slow, and gradually built a small client base through referrals only.  As it evolves I am learning what works, and what doesn't work so well, and am constantly looking for new ways to offer services and identify what my clients really need.  With the popularity of social media, I am now learning how to leverage everything I do and communicate through a variety of different marketing avenues.  I was slow to jump on the Facebook and Twitter bandwagon, but now I really believe that everyone needs to have a presence there in order to compete, and to grow your visibility.  Old fashioned print advertising alone isn't enough.  Marketing today is more about building relationships and providing useful information to potential clients.

2.     What do you love about being a female entrepreneur?

I love the freedom that comes with being a female entrepreneur.  I am free to offer whatever services best fit my business, and I am free to schedule my time in a way that allows me to prioritize my life, which includes family and friends.  I also love the connections that I am now making with other women who are stepping into their own businesses and dreaming big.  It's exciting!

3.     How does your faith play out in your business?

My faith is central to everything I say and do.  Since I am a christian Life Purpose Coach, all my clients know in advance that I will always offer my services from a christian perspective and my goal is to help them grow in their faith along with whatever area we are working on.  Faith in the Marketplace is crucial, and I love being able to help women navigate their way through how to balance their faith in the workplace and their circle of influence in a way that positively impacts others.

4.     What is your BIG DREAM for your business?

My big dream for my business is that I will be able to offer an even high level of Life Purpose packages that will focus on 2-day intensives with a year-long follow up and coaching program built in.  I not only want to be their Life Purpose coach and help them identify their calling, but I want to coach the on to success as they take steps towards their big goals.  I am also going to be offering more tele-group coaching in order to make Life Purpose coaching accessible to more women.  Nothing would bless me more than to see every woman boldly step up into her calling and not waste any time.  I want them to live Extraordinary lives that will have a huge Kingdom impact as they offer their services to make a difference in the lives of others.

5.     What 3 tips would you share with a friend who is launching her own entrepreneurial adventure?

  • Pray, Pray, and Pray some more.
  • Get a coach to help you create a plan of action and be accountable to it
  • Make sure you have passion for whatever it is you want to do because when you hit the rough spots you need to make sure you are passionate about what you do so that you will have the desire to keep going and never give up.

Kristi Brooks Olson, Life Purpose Success Coach

Be Bold.  Step Out.  Do it Now.
Leave a Legacy by Finishing Well, fulfilling your Dreams