Wednesday, May 18, 2011

More Good News For Southern Demolition and Environmental!

Our President and company founder Gina Ragsdale was featured in the Business Section of the Sunday, May 1st edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution!

As a woman-owned business in a male dominated field, Gina and Southern Demolition face many challenges. As this article demonstrates, Gina has implemented worthwhile and profitable ideas in her business, and continues to succeed in a challenging economy.

Here is the article:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

May 1, 2011

Nell Merlino

I speak all over the country encouraging women to stand on their own and take control of their financial potential.

I've been doing this for a long time, but I still meet women who don't believe they need to grow their businesses, who think staying at $50,000 or $100,000 in revenues is good enough.

As much as I can try to convince them otherwise, they still don't get it. So I want to introduce them to some of these incredible women.

Gina Cambardella Ragsdale, the founder and president of Southern Demolition and Environmental, is right here in Atlanta. Not only is she a woman in a male-dominated industry -- her company provides green services in demolition, asbestos inspections, asbestos abatement and removal, deconstruction, brick salvage, architectural salvage and recycling -- she's also a wife and mother of a toddler (baby No. 2 is due in June).

Shortly after launching in March 2007, her husband quit his job to work with his wife full-time. Since its inception, the company has been profitable every year, and revenues continue to increase annually.

They have to.

"Insurance companies base the credibility of your company on revenues and revenue growth -- maybe more so than on profitability," explains Ragsdale, 36, who was selling real estate and teaching special education before starting her company.

And, of course, there is also this: "We won't eat if we don't make money," she says bluntly. "We have to maintain a certain level of income, which is directly tied to profitability. A lot of people go to work and get a paycheck and it doesn't matter if their company is being profitable that week or not. I have to be profitable every week, or I'm borrowing money to live."

Ragsdale is just one of an estimated 8.1 million women who are business owners in this country, who generate nearly $1.3 trillion in revenues and employ 7.7 million Americans, according to the recently released American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, which is based on the latest U.S. census data.

Georgia, it turns out, has had the fastest growth in the number of women-owned firms during the past 14 years, at 97.5 percent.

What's more, the American Express report found women-owned businesses continue to diversify in all industries, with the fastest growth coming in construction (up 41 percent), administrative and waste services (up 47 percent), and education services (up 54 percent).

On the face of it, that's pretty amazing. But if you delve deeper, the numbers become a little less impressive. Although most women-owned businesses initially surpass those owned by men in growth rate in revenue and employment, the bulk of them burn out when they reach 100 employees and $1 million in revenues mark. Then they drop below national averages in both revenues and employees.

There are still too many women out there who approach those thresholds and suddenly think "I shouldn't" or "I can't," doubting their professional capacity or their ability to balance work and family.

Women need to embrace having a mindset of success fueled by personal and professional growth. We need to look to role models like Victoria Campos, who had a strong desire to grow her immigration and family law practice in Long Island, N.Y., but couldn't envision doing so while raising four children.

Instead of continuing to drive herself crazy, Campos sought help.

"I learned I could be both an active mother and a successful head of a company," she says. In two years, her revenues have grown from $191,000 to nearly $500,000.

We also need to recognize that just 25 percent of all women-owned businesses in the U.S. have annual revenues of more than $50,000.

Let's face it: If that's your annual take-home pay, chances are you're going to have a pretty tough time surviving.

Recent statistics from Wider Opportunities for Women, a national organization that works to achieve economic independence for women and their families, found that single workers need $30,012 a year -- nearly twice the federal minimum wage -- to cover basic expenses. Single parents require nearly twice the income ($57,756) to support two children (an hourly wage of $27.35), while dual-income households with children require $67,920.

Failure to access affordable capital, failure to access markets, and segregation from mainstream business development and leadership contribute to the failure of women's businesses to achieve acceptable market share growth, says the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce.

But there's also something deeper going on: Women don't believe they can do it themselves.

Sure, women may have come a long way, but they're still slow to believe that they alone can provide for their safety and security. They usually only believe it when disaster strikes in the form of, say, an unexpected divorce or death and suddenly they're forced to be breadwinner.

Leah Brown started her pharmaceutical testing company, A10 Clinical Solutions in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., after she was laid off from her job at a health care consulting firm.

"I had spent my whole life trying to be the best employee," she says. "I started my own business so that I would have control over my destiny. I didn't want to rely on anyone else. Period."

This year, Brown said she expects to reach $30 million in annual revenues.

The candor of these women is dead-on: Female business owners must work toward revenue growth. They have to. It is, quite literally, a matter of survival.

(Nell Merlino is the founder and president of Count Me In for Women's Economic Independence.)