filmpreneur and film festival

March 2, 2007

Women find their niche in business world

By TEDDYE SNELL
Tahlequah Daily Press

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Shiron Ray became an entrepreneur at the tender age of 5, selling her artwork door-to-door before “distracters” told her she had to come in for dinner.
Demonstrating a true entrepreneurial spirit, Ray refused to return home until every one of her paintings was sold.
Today, Ray is a self-proclaimed “filmpreneur.”
“I own Bare Bones Film Making, and I don’t have a job,” said Ray. “A job, to me, means ‘just over broke.’”
Ray was one of two speakers highlighted at Northeastern State University’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Expo, held Wednesday in the Herb Rozell Ballroom of the University Center. The event offered those attending a fresh way at looking at being an entrepreneur.
On her way to becoming a film maker, Ray owned a lawn-mowing business, was a teacher and completed a bachelor’s and master’s degree, as well as a doctorate – well, sort of.
“My boss was enrolled in a doctoral program,” said Ray. “And her name was Sharon, so needless to say, I attended a lot of classes for her during office hours.”
Ray stressed the importance of education and finding one’s niche.
“I didn’t realize it, but my niche is being a last-minute speaker,” said Ray. “People know if a speaker cancels at the last minute, they can call me, because I can organize a talk on short notice – mostly because I speak from my heart, and what I talk about isn’t rocket science or brain surgery.”
Instead of passing out preprinted brochures outlining her speaking points, Ray gave everyone a blank note card and a pen.
“I know where all those printed brochures go,” said Ray. “I also know if you write this down yourself, you’re more apt to reread it.”
Ray had participants write down five questions on the card:
• What would you do if you know you could not fail?
• What are your strengths?
• What are your weaknesses?
• Who is your biggest supporter?
• Who is your biggest distracter?
Ray indicated by answering these questions, many could find what was holding them back from becoming their own boss.
“I like acronyms,” said Ray. “So let’s use the word ‘niche’ to outline what you need to do before going into business.”
“N” indicated need. Ray recommended finding a need that was unfulfilled then going out and doing something about it. “I” stood for investigate and using intuition to make smart decisions. “C” was for courage and creativity, as going into business took both.
“H” stood for helping others. Ray stressed that the more you help others, the more help you would find. Finally, “E” stood for education and enthusiasm, as businesses require a constant influx of both.
The event was hosted by NSU’s Students in Free Enterprise to aid area women who are thinking of going in to business or expanding an existing business. Approximately a dozen vendors participated in the expo, including Dr. Brianna Batey, a local chiropractor with Miller Chiropractic.
“I wanted to come because, as far as I know, I’m the only woman chiropractor in Tahlequah,” said Batey. “That, and I went to school here for a couple of years. I think it’s great they’re offering this opportunity.”
While women make up more than half the population of the United States, they own less than half the businesses. According to the Center for Women’s Business Research, about 27 percent of the businesses in Oklahoma are owned by women.
Grant Alexander, co-Sam Walton fellow for SIFE, hoped the expo reached area women and provided valuable information.
“It’s a great opportunity for women thinking about starting a business to connect with successful entrepreneur in a number of fields,” he said. “We’re very excited about bringing together women entrepreneurs who are willing to share their knowledge and skills.”

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