Starting a Networking Organization
Interview with Krista Dunk, Founder of Koinonia Business Women
A reconnection with an old friend lead Krista Dunk to found Koinonia Business Women, a networking organization for women of faith that enables them to learn skills and become better leaders and managers.
Interview with Krista Dunk, Founder of KBWomen
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
Koinonia Business Women (KBWomen) is a national organization where "Faith, Business & Women Connect, Collaborate & Grow." We offer services for business women of faith that help them be successful business owners and professionals. In 2010, our organization will become membership-based, and many local KBWomen Chapters are opening in cities across the country.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
Personally, I have tried just about every type of business under the sun and consider myself a serial entrepreneur. I currently also own NWweddingplace.com, and do website maintenance and creation from time-to-time. Although I dabble in other businesses, KBWomen is my passion.
How did you come up with your business idea?
I believe this business idea was a God-inspired idea, born out of wanting to fill a need. My business partner, Tammy Redmon, and I have known each other for many years. When we reconnected in 2008, we realized we were both business owners. Both of us noticed a lack of networking and skill-learning for like-minded, business women of faith. Out of that gap in the marketplace, a big vision started, with small steps. Basically, we created something we wanted ourselves!
Did you operate your business from your home? What were the challenges and benefits to this strategy?
Koinonia Business Women is web-based for the most part, so, yes, it is run from a home office in Olympia, WA. Like you mentioned, there are challenges and benefits to having a work-at-home situation. One of the biggest challenges is distractions: usually short, noisy people who say, "Mom!" a lot. However, that is also one of the biggest benefits as well: being available for my children and their schedules. Having a home office also forces greater creativity and motivation. If you're in the wrong business, a diminished sense of motivation will show up sooner. Another challenge is setting up an effective workspace, including organizing papers and projects so that they don't get mixed in with household things.
With the current economy in a slump, what cost saving tips would you have for a new entrepreneur?
Do a lot of pre-planning. Pre-planning well for anything always saves money. Interestingly, another cost saving tip is to talk a lot to your network of business owners. Other business people who have "been there, done that" will have some good insight for you.
Also, there are a lot of free resources for businesses to be found online. Do your research and ask questions! Use your social networks for this as well.
Social marketing is consistently being written about in the small business space. Has it worked generating business for you?
We have used social networking or social marketing successfully in our business so far. Since social networking's focus is to create relationships, and that is a crucial part of our mission, it fits our business model perfectly. We have made some great connections across the country through online social networking activities, which does help to generate business. We are active on Twitter, Facebook, BlogTalkRadio, Blogger, and Ning.
Temporary labor can be a great asset to an entrepreneur. Have you ever hired temps or contractors? Would you suggest this as a strategy for new business owners?
I would definitely recommend that new business owners hire VA's or other independent contracted workers at first, and on a continued basis if possible. There are several reasons why I believe that is a great idea:
- Avoiding payroll taxes for employees is a big plus!
- The kind help you need may morph quickly.
- Using contracted people with specialized expertise eases your mind.
- You have no physical office equipment purchases necessary for VA's and contractors.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
To attempt creating a national organization, it is important to have a large online presence, as well as to have a lot of supportive connections in various regions. It's also very important to have a vision of the "end" from the beginning start-up phase. Figure out what you want the ultimate version of your business to be, then start at step A to get there.
Thank you for talking with me today, Krista.
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