The next blog in our series on small business clients of ADP profiles two women business owners. They spoke with us about the unique meaning of Women's History Month in the current climate.

This year, Women's History Month felt a bit different, especially for small business owners. Women in the U.S. have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 2.3 million women have left the workforce since February 2020, making this the lowest ratio of women in the workforce since 1988. In December 2020 alone, women accounted for 100% of jobs lost in the U.S. There are several reasons for this, including women having to leave jobs to care for children who haven't been able to attend school and women occupying 58 percent of essential jobs with an hourly wage under $15, which have been cut in greater numbers and are also less likely to return.

Celebrating women seems more important than ever, as does looking at ways to make up the deficit and help women return to work. As part of this discussion, two ADP clients who are women business owners shared their perspectives on Women's History Month and the unique business challenges that women face.

How we measure success

Co-owners Kia Morris, LCSW-C, and Colette Walker-Thomas, LCSW-C, of All By The Grace (ABG) in Baltimore County, Maryland, started their business in 2018 to provide premium mental health services to all populations through a continuum of care. ABG takes a holistic approach that incorporates mind, body and spirit and aims to destigmatize mental health.

As women business owners, Morris and Walker-Thomas have had some difficulties interfacing with different systems and services needed to run their business. However, they note that marketing and presenting their brand and philosophy of care has helped to open some doors. To date, one of the greatest successes for ABG has been the positive feedback from their clients. ADP's women business clients often speak of their relationships to their clients as one of the main motivations for the work they do. For these business owners, success is not just about them, but about the success of the people with whom they work.

Another top accomplishment was the accreditation of ABG through CARF International (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities), with an almost perfect score. Morris agrees with the other women business owners we have profiled about the importance of achieving the highest level of credentials in your area of expertise to gain credibility with potential clients.

Morris has the following advice for fellow women in business and women who would like to start a small business of their own: "Make sure that you have strong networks. Find a good mentor to prevent isolation. Have a supportive, trustworthy and competent business partner. Know your competitors. Do a full SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and hreats) analysis. KNOW YOUR BUSINESS."

The month of March is extremely important to All By The Grace. "Not only because of Women's History Month, but it is also Social Work Month. Both of these observances are an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the accomplishments of the pioneers who have led the way for our success. We plan to host a virtual celebration mid-March to highlight the achievements of female social workers," says Morris.

The transformation of women in business

Ludwig Business Consultants, founded in 2002, by Phyllis Ludwig, CPA/EMBA, is a cutting-edge outsourced CPA firm in North Wales, Pennsylvania, that provides client and advisory services for companies ranging from start-ups to mid-market as well as tax compliance services for individuals and small businesses. Starting with one small business client, the company has grown to a full portfolio of clients ranging from small to large multi-million-dollar organizations.

Ludwig notes that there has been a transformation in the way women are viewed in business since she started 20 years ago: "It took a very long time, drive and determination to go from accountant to business owner. In 2002, women were still viewed as bookkeepers and not presidents of their own companies. Being a woman business owner requires a delicate balancing act to have a successful marriage and raise a family while growing a business."

The mission of Ludwig Business Consultants is to provide their clients with confidence. They honor Women's History Month each year by becoming recertified by Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) as a Certified Women's Business Enterprise. The WBENC certification process allows them to affirm their commitment to being a leader among women in business. "I feel that I am honoring my grandmother's dream as a single woman from Italy by advancing women in business. My success everyday lies in the hearts of all the clients we serve. While I try to achieve to do my best, I give my clients the confidence to achieve their dreams," says Ludwig.

Many of our clients who are women business owners have spoken about their desire to foster connections with and support their communities, and also the need to achieve the highest levels of credentials and certifications to be taken seriously. With so many highly competent and conscientious women leaders, the communities where these businesses are based are in excellent hands. Helping women stay at and return to work across the country will allow businesses and communities to thrive from the unique perspectives and contributions of women in the workforce.

Learn about ADP's services for small businesses.

Learn more about diversity, equity and inclusion resources to help your organization do and be its best @adp.com/dei.

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