Making an obstacle an opportunity

Veronica Cool

Veronica Cool

Every business owner has faced an obstacle. Growing pains, not having enough capital, lack of time, or trouble finding good employees are just a few of them. Often, how a business owner responds to those obstacles can determine the business’s success. That’s why Rebecca Teaff, owner of Redstart Creative, believes business owners should turn obstacles into opportunity.

She, along with other female business owners, will discuss the less than perfect aspects of business ownership that have helped propel their businesses to the next level at The Daily Record’s third annual Women’s Leadership Summit at Coppin State University on March 20.

Veronica Cool, founder & CEO, Cool & Associates LLC will moderate the panel that includes Teaff; Dr. Tammira Lucas, executive director, The Warnock Foundation; Natalie Mangrum, CEO, Maryland Teacher Tutors; and Gina Ramsey, president, Pink Dog Digital.

“Businesses are poised for great growth because of an obstacle,” Teaff said. “There are so many challenges to being a business owner. You have to have resilience — if you let every little thing knock you down, you’d be out of business.”

After 10 years in business, Teaff faced her biggest obstacle: her largest client decided to cut ties. That client, alone, contributed to a significant portion of her revenue. She realized then that she had only three ways to react: Do nothing, whine about it, or do something about it. Realizing that the client was outside the core of her business, she decided to double down on her market, catering to organizations that were making a positive change in the world.

Natalie Mangrum, CEO of Maryland Teacher Tutors, started her business three years ago. When she came up with the idea for her business, she was told countless times that it would never work.

“Despite people telling me that hiring certified teachers as tutors was a bad idea, I went with my gut,” she said. “I overcame that obstacle by going against the odds and now I couldn’t be happier that I did.”

While there will always be naysayers, Mangrum said, the key is to follow your instinct. She also said you won’t know the outcome unless you try.

Sometimes the biggest obstacles aren’t other people — it’s yourself. Gina Ramsey found this out after having a dream of creating her own digital agency. Despite this dream, she continuously talked herself out of actually doing it. She’d already worked for a digital agency and made a great salary and had a flexible work environment. Why would she want to leave?

“I was living someone else’s reality. My reality was about helping business owners grow their digital footprint. I wanted to be a part of their business and really impact their bottom line. After some soul-searching and terror, I decided to start my own agency. I was terrified, but I had to be true to myself,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey’s firm, Pink Dog Digital was opened in August of 2018. She believes that living authentically is the key to overcoming obstacles.

As co-founder of Moms as Entrepreneurs, Dr. Tammira Lucas spends her days providing entrepreneurial training, financial education and support to the mom entrepreneur community so that they can start sustainable businesses. But, just as her clients must do, Lucas had to overcome any thoughts of giving up — especially as a woman trying to start her own business.

“Being a woman in business with an innovative idea that wasn’t being done and getting everyone to believe in it was one of my biggest obstacles. No matter how many ‘no’s’ I received, I continue to share my story and my why of creating this social enterprise,” Lucas said.

She also said it’s imperative that women build a solid network that they can lean on during the tough times.

No matter what stage a business owner is in, or the obstacle they face, there are steps that can be taken to make it an opportunity, said Teaff.

“It all boils down to four things — look at what’s working, get advice from other people, make a plan, and day after day get the work done. Be in for the marathon, not the sprint,” said Teaff.

Meet the presenters

Veronica Cool

Founder & CEO, Cool & Associates LLC

veronica-cool-300After 20 years in the corporate sector, Veronica launched Cool & Associates, a management consulting firm to bridge the mainstream world to the Hispanic segment in the United States. Specializing in an integrated model providing solutions including marketing, workforce development and training.

She has blended her financial expertise and operational experience with her nonprofit activities to drive engagement and growth. Her expertise includes commercial banking, lending, financial analysis and sales management, working with Wells Fargo and Bank of America, and leading and operating the state-wide Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Veronica has presented internationally in various conferences addressing topics such as Hispanic Engagement, Diverse Segment Marketing, Minority/WBE, Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy, Access to Capital and Women in Business and Leadership. She is a columnist for Huffington Post, The Daily Record and Mundo Latino.

She holds a BS from Kutztown University in Business Administration, and a Master’s of Science in Finance from Loyola University of MD. A native of Dominican Republic, she is the Past Board Chairman of the MD Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of Martin O’Malley’s gubernatorial transition steering committee focusing on MBE and Small Business. Cool currently serves on the boards of Open Society Institute, Alliance for Hispanic Commercial Contractors, Life Lens and is a proud member of the Hispanic Leaders Association, Latino Providers Network, Latinas Think Big and SHIFT.

Living northwest of Baltimore, Maryland, she is married to Mr. Cool and is happily overwhelmed by her 17-year-old fashionista black-belt diva and 15-year-old athletic jokester.

Rebecca Teaff

Owner, Redstart Creative

teaff-300x450Rebecca Teaff is a creative entrepreneur, problem solver and dreamer. Rebecca is the owner and founder of Redstart Creative. Redstart Creative is a branding and digital marketing company building and supporting brands for women owned small businesses and non-profits in the educational, environmental and family support space.

Redstart Creative helps those driving positive change in the world i.e., people who make good things happen tell their stories in both print and digital. Redstart works with clients empowering positive change in the world – those striving for social impact and equity.

Rebecca has a passion for helping change-makers that matches her passion for running a business. Over the past ten years Rebecca has been involved in multiple volunteer roles including – Marketing Chair for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Maryland Chapter and National Association of Women Business Owners – Baltimore Chapter, as well as receiving Maryland’s Top 100 Women Award in 2014 and 2018.

Dr. Tammira Lucas

Executive Director, The Warnock Foundation

tam-headshot-300x250Recognized as one of Baltimore’s Top 40 under 40, Dr. Tammira Lucas is an award-winning thought leader, Author, Speaker, and Philanthropist in the areas of entrepreneurship, social innovation, and economic development. She is currently the executive director of The Warnock Foundation where she implements strategies, programming, and investments into Baltimore’s innovators and communities. Dr. Lucas is also a professor in the College of Business at Coppin State University. With over 14 years of experience and research in business and social innovation, Dr. Lucas has dedicated her life and work on building communities through leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Dr. Tammira Lucas is the co-founder of Moms As Entrepreneurs and Co-Founder of The Cube Cowork. Dr. Lucas holds a Bachelor of Science in Management Science from Coppin State University, Masters of Business Administration from Strayer University and a Doctorate of Business Administration from Walden University.

Natalie Mangrum

CEO, Maryland Teacher Tutors

natalie-mangrum-headshotNatalie is the founder and CEO of Maryland Teacher Tutors, a private tutoring company that hires certified teachers to provide in-home academic support to K-12 students.

Prior to founding MTT, Natalie served as a reading specialist for Baltimore City Schools. While working with small student groups, she recognized the transformational value of one-on-one instruction in helping students reach their academic potential. In fact, it was during this season of teaching that Natalie’s students advanced more than 2.5 grade levels over the course of just one semester!

Intrigued by these significant academic gains, Natalie knew there was life-changing potential in the one-on-one model, but felt that this support was lacking for students in Maryland and beyond.

Determined to work toward a solution, Natalie founded Maryland Teacher Tutors in 2015 and now has more than 35 certified teachers working under her leadership.

Beyond work, Natalie can be found spending time with her husband and two teenage children, kickboxing, and learning all she can from people with more wisdom and life experience.

Gina Ramsey

President, Pink Dog Digital

gina-ramsey-300Gina Ramsey is the President of Pink Dog Digital.  She has been involved in digital media since 2006. Her role allows her to help businesses grow through their digital footprint. Her services include website development, search engine optimization, content creation, social media management and consulting and digital ad campaigns. Gina is a two-time Maryland Top 100 Women, BRAVA, Executive Management Award and most recently Women of Influence winner. Additionally, Gina gives back to the community by serving on the Board of Directors for There Goes My Hero, The Girl Scouts of Central Maryland and the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority. Gina also co-chairs Women In Business and the Executive Forum at The Center Club. Mom of three fur babies and step mom of three, Gina enjoys spending time with her husband Brian and friends and family.

This article is featured in The Daily Record’s Path To Excellence: A Woman’s Guide To Business. The mission of the Path to Excellence magazine is to give our readers the opportunity to meet successful women of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs and learn how they define success. Read more from Path to Excellence.

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