Record Eagle, Donna Probes
March 20, 2022
Donna Probes (SCORE Traverse City)
There has been a trend in the mentoring I’ve been doing with SCORE. More and more women are coming to us for advice and guidance on how to launch a business.
This is very exciting to me, because I was one of these women 30 years ago. I was a full-time working mom who was burning out like a Roman candle from the overwhelming demands of a 50-hour work week and the needs of my young children.
Through a serendipitous set of circumstances, I stumbled upon a business owner who wanted to retire and sell his business. It was the perfect match for me, as I could run the business from my home and be there for my children when they came home from school.
But I was flooded with doubt, insecurity, anxiety and questions. So, I contacted SCORE. Two seasoned businessmen helped me analyze the opportunity, looking at all the pros and cons. After a deep dive into the financial history of the company, their conclusion was to “go for it!” So, I did.
I will never forget the relief I felt making that huge decision with the backing and encouragement of two knowledgeable mentors. Looking back, it was the best decision I ever made. But I could not have made it without the help of SCORE.
March is Women’s History month. I think of all the brave pioneers who opened doors for mothers like me. There are so many more choices now. One of them is entrepreneurialism. This is an opportunity and an honor that was rarely afforded to women of my mother’s generation.
Post-World War II women of the 50’s and 60’s had very few options for financing a business. Banks could refuse women a credit card until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 was signed into law. Prior to that, a bank could refuse to issue a credit card to an unmarried woman, and if a woman was married, her husband was required to cosign.
Thankfully, things have changed dramatically. Every time I mentor a young woman with the dream of starting her own enterprise, I wonder if she will join the long list of successful female business owners in our region. I see a growing boldness arising, a confidence that is so different from what I experienced so long ago.
Women’s History Month acknowledges the hard work and persistence of those who blazed the trail before us. It is a time to amplify women’s voices, celebrating female empowerment and leadership, and recognize the history-makers right here in our own hometown.
Among these leaders are the women who go to work every day for a company that bears their name as owner, CEO, and president. Hats off to these entrepreneurs! They are the role models for the young girls of our community and the ones who are writing history right before our eyes.
Donna Probes, M.B.A., spent 10 years as a small business owner. She is retired from the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce and is active as a SCORE mentor as well as a professional musical performer. For information on SCORE visit upnorthscore.com.