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One woman entrepreneur finds fullfillment in empowering others

jlbbwsuitcopyr_webFour years ago, Jena Bell had just lost her job and her marriage of 24 years had recently ended.

To say she’s bounced back from that low point is like saying the world-champion Washington Nationals bounced back from their slow start last season.

After taking a year off to do some soul-searching and ponder her future, Bell launched her own Rockville-based business: Pathways to Abundance, a consulting agency that helps people, mostly women, start or grow their own business.

Today, three years later, she is expanding and growing that business in the midst of a pandemic, because she’s doing precisely what she now knows she was meant to do.

“I absolutely love it,” Bell said. “It gives me so much fulfillment, because I know what I do, helping other women, changes lives and makes a difference in our community, in our world. Together, we’re creating a better place.”

Bell bases her consulting approach on what she calls the “Five C’s,” which stand for the five steps through which she leads her clients.

The first “C” is clarity, discovering what the client wants to do and why.

The second is confidence, removing any negative stories she might be telling herself that causes her to question her ability or worth.

The third is courage, to embrace who she is and be willing to step out of her comfort zone.

The fourth is commitment, being willing to commit to whatever it is she truly wants to do.

The final “C” is convicted, having the conviction to know what she wants to do and to move toward that.

That is the first segment of the process, Bell said. After that, she moves on to more specific and practical matters, based on where the person is in the process.

“The first step is recovery, personal stuff — where you are, what you want out of your business,” she said. After that, she said, come one-on-one coaching sessions about structuring the business or, if the person is already in business, how to grow or scale it to better fit the client’s wishes.

Bell stressed that hers is not a one-size-fits-all approach. How it goes, she explained, “depends on where (the client) is in her entrepreneurial journey. We find that out and then we develop a strategy to help her get to that goal.”

“It’s about knowing what you want, and how that business will support the lifestyle you want. Those are the fundamental questions.”

Bell has coached a variety of people with a variety of interests and goals. She has also been a mentee herself. In that role, she was invited by her coach to speak at a conference in South Africa, an offer she couldn’t refuse. She wanted her story to have an impact on other women, but she wasn’t fully prepared for how this new stage would impact her own life.

“I really connected to the audience and knew right away that my message resonated with women of every color, culture, age, and economic status. I was back on that same stage less than 12 months later hosting an economic empowerment conference and have been blessed to speak with audiences in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, Africa, the Carribean, and the Netherlands. I stepped out of my comfort zone and into an abundance of opportunities that I didn’t know existed. “

Bell’s personal growth as a coach, international speaker and entrepreneur inspired her to write a book.

“I have always loved mirrors, but for too many years I looked in the mirror and saw a women who didn’t have the right job, the right husband, the right body. I knew I had to be the one to re-write my own headlines and daily affirmations made that happen for me.”

j-bell_bookimage_webThe book, Mirror Affirmations, is Bell’s way of sharing her journey while helping other women use affirmations to become their own source of power.

“Once you’re comfortable with who you are, the world opens up to you,” Bell said who recites affirmations every day as part of her morning routine. “For example, I never thought I’d be coaching, but here I am.”

Bell believes her past experiences, both positive and negative, prepared her well for the coach’s role.

She spent some 30 years in the corporate business world, including working as a senior health-care executive leading a program with more than 5 million members.

Those years were successful, but that success, she said, came with a price: The submerging of her own personal dream.

“I got comfortable with corporate life and lost that dream,” she said. “I liked what I did, but their dream became my dream, and my dream got put on the back burner.”

The dream resurfaced and became a goal when her job was eliminated and she began soul-searching. And all of that experience, her years in the corporate business world, the pain of losing her job and facing the end of her marriage, the self-evaluation that followed, has proven valuable in her current role.

“People want somebody who’s walked in their shoes,” she explained. “I’ve done that.”

Bell identifies with the struggles of entrepreneurship. Passion alone does not get the job done. Successful businesses also need to have operational systems and processes in place and they can never stop looking for new customers. Applying those principles to her own businesses led her to attend an event focused on government contracting where she learned that Governor Larry Hogan had declared 2020 as the Year of the Woman in Maryland. She knew she wanted to be part of the celebration and volunteered to conduct a workshop for women entrepreneurs.

Originally scheduled during Women’s History Month (March), the sold-out event had to be cancelled when the coronavirus hit. But Bell, along with her host, the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs, are pivoting and moving the conference to a virtual platform.

“I think we’re going to reach an expanded audience, so what was bad news in March has become good news for the many entrepreneurs who will be able to join us in October. I couldn’t be more excited for this event,” concluded Bell.

Minority Business/Expanding Opportunities 2020 cover

Expanding Opportunities

This article is featured in the 2020 edition of The Daily Record’s Expanding Opportunities Resource Guide for Small, Minority and Women Businesses. Published in conjunction with the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs, Expanding Opportunities explores diversity, entrepreneurship and innovation in Maryland’s small business community. Read more from Expanding Opportunities on this website or read the digital edition.

To purchase a reprint of this article, contact reprints@thedailyrecord.com.

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