On Thursday, March 10, Business students at Snow College had the opportunity to participate in a local focus group administered by the Snow College Business Department. This was a statewide online training focus group for the Salt Lake Chamber Women’s Business Center. Ann Marie Wallace, Executive Director of the Women’s Business Center, is a graduate of Snow College and asked the students to participate in this research study.
The purpose of the meeting was to discover the resources that are available to women entrepreneurs in rural areas such as Ephraim. The presentation was recorded to send to the Salt Lake Chamber’s Women’s Center so that the research could be used towards supporting a state-funded online resource that would be available to all business women living in Utah. Stacee McIff, Business Department Chair, said that “This is a great opportunity for students to participate in a real research project associated with business.”
The focus group was composed of six local businesswomen who became entrepreneurs in a wide range of businesses. Between marketing salve internationally to being the owner of a “Horseplay” Horse Therapy group, these women brought experience from working in a rural area for many years.
The Salt Lake Chamber asked the discussion to follow six questions, all centered around the idea of creating an online resource specifically for women entrepreneurs in Utah. The panel board was asked what they would like to learn more about business, where they go to find answers to their questions, and what features they would like an online resource to include if it was created.
Each member of the board agreed that their business started small and through small leaps became more well-known to the public. In rural areas, most business is spread by word-of-mouth, although the panel has also found features in newspapers, radio, and advertisements helpful as well. Lynn Farrar, local artist and owner of Sophie’s Black Sheep Gallery, stated that “Women who are entrepreneurs in rural areas face challenges that places with bigger populations don’t.” An online resource would help other generations level the playing field on the internet. Lee Bennion, owner of Mom’s Stuff Salve, hired her daughter onto her team to use resources such as Kickstarter campaigns to enable them to ship internationally. Now, they have delivered their product to almost every country in the world.
Overall, the group agreed that if there was an online resource that they could rely on to navigate to answers of their problems, that they would use it. Having resources readily available to them to be able to seek out supplies locally and utilize the other small businesses near them would help increase their productivity. The panel supplied many pieces of advice to the business students who wish to become entrepreneurs themselves. They also agreed that the best way to do business is, as Shauna Stevens said, “Stick to a good reputation… people do keep coming back.”