Women’s History Month is a celebration of female empowerment and the figures throughout history who have made strides in women’s rights and industry. While our earlier spotlights during this Women’s History Month featured strong, driven, and independent women-owned small businesses, today’s spotlight is a little different. Women Who WOW is not just a woman-owned small business; it is a small business for other woman-owned small businesses. Owned and operated by Michelle Pippin, Women who WOW is an online coaching and mentoring platform “for seriously driven women,” according to Pippin herself. Having built her business with the most grassroots strategy possible, Pippin’s story is more than a tale of female empowerment, but a learning tool (in more ways than one!) for the next generation of female small business owners.
Teaching to Learn
Michelle Pippin turned a turn-of-the-century one-woman operation into the “wowing” Women Who WOW which is now operated in all 50 states and eight countries. While there are several online business training programs for aspiring business owners to choose from, Women Who WOW is distinctly different: “What makes WOW special is its focus on freedom and empowerment for women,” Pippin explains. “While we help these women make more money in their business, it’s really about empowering them to lead the lives they want to live. In the end, if you can’t financially support yourself and your goals, full empowerment isn’t possible. So, entrepreneurship is the vehicle, but empowerment is the destination.”
While knowing the basics of management and accounting are great tools, business owners kept from their own potential will have little use for even the most genius ideas. Pippin’s purpose is more than rational, it is essential for the modern business owner, as self-reliance and empowerment are the most versatile tools in the small business owner’s belt. Pippin’s methodology gets to the critical crux of the unspoken rule: don’t just run your business; sustain yourself alongside your business; and there may be no one better fit than Pippin to explain the intricacies of both empowerment and a healthy working life.
$50 Seed to Priceless Idea
Yes, it’s true: Michelle Pippin created Women Who WOW while raising a family at home and with $50 of seed money. It is forthcoming, then, that Pippin has more than sufficient experience creating a small business under tough conditions. “Like anyone, I had to stare down the ‘devils’ of disappointment, defeat, and distraction. I had to stay true to my business goals while also raising three kids, caring for my aging Grandfather, and being the wife I wanted to be. It was hard, but never complicated. Bottom line, I had to bet on myself and determine to live according to my own priorities rather than get caught in the busy-ness of the business world. In the end, this allowed me to take more focused and bolder steps in my business, creating financial success faster.”
Those first steps were admirably grassroots, as Pippin started seeking our clients for her business in 1999, long before digital marketing became prevalent. “I started this community by growing our members through print invites for 18 months, which is very different in the internet marketing space. I thought this step necessary to protect the culture of Women Who WOW, to keep our tribe high touch, high drive and deliberately low tech.”
In 1999, “working from home” could be seen as corporate code for “taking the day off,” but Pippin anticipated today’s change in the working world more than two decades earlier. “My desire was simple: to be at home full time with my babies. However, being married to a public school teacher demanded that I immediately replace my full-time income. So, I had to move fast. After the first year of selling my services as an ‘at home secretary’ — and making $63K — I figured out that I wasn’t just ‘cobbling together an income,’ but running a real business.”
WOWing for the Future
In a new era of digital opportunity and reliance, Pippin’s two decades of experience running an online business made the pandemic shift straightforward but by no means easy. Now a veteran of digital marketing and initiatives, even pandemic staffing shortages didn’t sink Pippin: “I have curated my income streams to run lean,” Pippin explains. “I try not to take on projects or launches that depend too heavily on a full team and focus on selling deliverables that I can control. It’s also important when marketing to acknowledge the hardships in the world, so you aren’t selling while being viewed as obtuse.”
Teaching by Example
Michelle Pippin’s business story is a lesson in itself: work begets success. Truly successful businesses are forged by the searing heat of sometimes uncomfortable hours and the weight of several hats balanced at once on very few heads. Who is better than Pippin, then, to teach business empowerment? Being that her business came to be in a field that barely existed and came to thrive when that field grew in around her. There is no greater empowerment than the validation of determined success. Voices like Pippin’s are irreplaceable in the forthcoming history of visionary women small business owners, and we are honored to spotlight not only her business, but her unique path to empowerment; both are proof that Women’s History Month ought to be twelve months long.