Women Entrepreneurs: Changemakers in Healthcare

Women entrepreneurs building their business

Stephanie DenvirAs the daughter of a successful entrepreneur, I have always been inspired by entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs create new business and jobs, drive innovation, influence change on many levels, and positively impact industry. As patients, caregivers, and healthcare consumers, women are leading decision-makers. And women entrepreneurs are essential to healthcare.

Women-led companies continue to grow year over year. And data from the U.S. Census Bureau reported that women own 20% of employer businesses nationwide. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, this translates to 9 million jobs, 11.6 million firms, and $1.7 trillion in sales. I expect that these numbers will show continued growth once the latest Census Bureau reports are out.

HIMSS represents a diverse membership, which includes amazing women entrepreneurs. One of my favorite quotes is “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I am inspired by these changemakers who are transforming healthcare.

Advice and Insights from #WomenInHIT Entrepreneurs

Iris FryeIris Frye, MS, MBA, CPHIMS, Founder and Chief Innovator at Parity Health Information and Technology LLC., a HIMSS Most Influential Women in Health IT Recipient and HIMSS Women in Health IT Community Member

What advice do you have for women entrepreneurs?

It takes courage to be a business owner, and the courage resides within you. As entrepreneurs, you must challenge yourself to manifest outwardly what you see inwardly.

My advice is never to put limitations on your growth potential, continue to expand your knowledge of your craft, and bring forth innovative ideas. The best business plans may fail, but failure is paramount to being successful. Failure is only a learning experience preparing you for a more significant comeback. Most successful entrepreneurs have, at one point, or another faced different forms of adversity. These moments teach us to keep pushing towards your goals.

I encourage you to utilize the tools around you, such as mentors and coaches who can empower, uplift and inspire your entrepreneurial aspirations. Remember always to envision your goals, execute your plan and exceed your expectations. It will all be worth it in the end.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from building a business?

During the process of building my business, I have learned where my journey began may be essential, yet where I finish is the ultimate goal. Not everyone has supported or understood my vision, which has caused me to make certain my environment consists of positive and optimistic individuals. It is imperative to pave your path. As it may be different from a fellow business owner; however, it is uniquely yours.

Building a business has taught me not to allow my fears to order my steps, but to understand, no one is perfect and it is okay to stumble and fall. Knowing this, do not be afraid to reach out to resources for insight that will help give you the knowledge needed in order for your business to be successful. Be open to establishing collaborations as they will be invaluable as your business grows.

I have learned that I have to be confident and secure in who I am as a person and business owner. Successful leaders work hard to know themselves, which includes their strengths and weaknesses. This self-knowledge is a fundamental key to building a business. You have always dream big and never underestimate your ability to succeed. Never quit, never stop striving for success, never stop cultivating your dreams, and never give up.

What inspires you?

I am inspired to change the lack of representation of African-American women in the health information technology field. It is a considerable challenge to feel like you must work harder to be recognized, or feel like you are not valued for your expertise. Having the opportunity to break the barriers and demonstrate to the minority youth that no matter what their background may be or their present circumstances, their hopes and dreams are attainable. I inspire daily to show them they matter. As an African-American female entrepreneur, it is my duty to stand out, go beyond the norm, and leave a legacy for the next generation to follow. As Maya Angelou stated, “When you learn, teach, when you get, give.”

Connect with Frye

Our Women in Health IT Community members share how empowering others can make a difference.

ashley-loeb-blassingameAshley Loeb Blassingame, Chief People Officer/Co-Founder, Lionrock Recovery; a HIMSS Women in Health IT Community Member

What advice do you have for women entrepreneurs?

Being a female entrepreneur has some unique challenges. In my case, I was also 23 years old when embarked on my entrepreneurial path, so there were times when I wasn’t sure if I was facing sexism, ageism, or both. I found that I had to take myself seriously before anyone else would. Early on, I sought approval for my ideas, skills and ambition. The people around me sensed that and it discounted what I had to offer. Once I truly took myself seriously, the opinions of others began to matter less, and yet, they also improved.

There is no question that being a female entrepreneur will bring you face-to-face with the world’s historical belief systems about women in the workforce. The antidote to those beliefs is to pay them no mind. You are not a “woman entrepreneur;” you’re an entrepreneur. Whatever we choose to believe about ourselves is true. You must believe in your capability and be willing to step up your skills when necessary. I have had to do this several times over my career.

The best advice I have ever received was from one of my mentors who said, “Numbers are the language of business–make sure you can speak it well.”

What is the most important lesson you have learned from building a business?

The most important lesson I learned from building a business is that you have to start before you are ready. They say “Perfect is the enemy of good” and starting a business is a great way to find that out.

When we started our company, there was no one else doing what we were doing. We knew we were either brilliant or insane. We hoped for the former. What we turned out to be was early. The good news is that we had time to make a lot of mistakes along the way. I learned that you have to just start on things and push them forward, even when you feel unqualified or afraid. When I didn’t know how to do something, I learned. I took classes at night, got certifications, read business books and asked a lot of questions. Being willing to learn along the way and not wait until you’re “ready” is the key because as it turns out, you’ll never really be ready.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the women out there who are taking risks to do things they love. I am inspired by the people who are willing to stand up and tell the truth, even when no one wants to hear it. I am inspired by the companies who truly want to have a positive impact on the planet while they are also enjoying the success with which capitalism has given them the opportunity to achieve. Vulnerability inspires me. In a world built on ego, and a society that focuses on lack, I have come to be truly inspired by those who take the plunge to be vulnerable and believe that there is enough to go around. I am inspired by the people who are enjoying their lives—who want what they have instead of worrying about having what they want.

I am inspired by my toddlers, who wake up each day looking for love, joy and fun, because in the end, that’s what really matters.

Connect with Loeb Blassingame

chrissa-mcfarlane-150Chrissa McFarlane, Chief Executive Officer, Patientory; a HIMSS Women in Health IT Community Member and HIMSS Digital Influencer

What advice do you have for women entrepreneurs?

Go for it. Regardless of whatever roadblocks others may put in place do not be afraid to burst through the glass ceilings placed by society.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from building a business?

Building a business requires a village. This may manifest as teammates, advisors/mentors, or just sitting and hearing feedback with customers. Do not be afraid to ask for help and make connections. You never know how it may help your business.

What inspires you?

People inspires me. After all that is the reason why I started my business. To leave a positive change on people’s lives. I am always intrigued to learn about people’s stories. It always fascinates me the different paths everyone takes on their life’s journey.

Connect with McFarlane

miriam-paramoreMiriam Paramore, President and Chief Strategy Officer, OptimizeRx; a HIMSS Women in Health IT Community Member

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the power of information to improve the U.S. healthcare system. Once upon a time, healthcare information lived in paper siloes that only licensed professionals could access. Now it lives in digital siloes, but only some providers and very few patients can access this information in a meaningful way. Whether it is providers working to collaborate on patient care, or patients trying to access their own records, there are challenges that technology can address. Interoperability standards are an important part of the solution if combined with the cessation of data blocking.

Information is power in all aspects of life. When people are sick and vulnerable, they need helpful information in order to navigate the complex system and get well.

I am inspired by the possibility of the appropriate seamless exchange of meaningful health information between care providers, patients and caregivers. No one should feel like they need to scale the silo walls and then use a decoder ring to get through their own healthcare journey.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from building a business?

When raising money, understand that investors are not doing you a “favor.” They need to put their capital to work and you are giving them the opportunity to do so. If your idea is sound and you execute, everybody wins. If the idea doesn’t work out, realize that all parties knew what they were getting into up front and were willing to take those risks. As we say in the south, we’re all grown.

What advice do you have for women entrepreneurs?

Realize up front that your business, your baby, might not be perfect. Learn to take criticism and even rejection—then get over it. Zero percent of successful businesses end up in the same lane where they started. They evolve and pivot. Present your business as if you have the prettiest baby in the world but don’t be giddy. Instead, present as if your baby—regardless of initial appearance—is a stone-cold winner because you are the baby mama. At the end of any pitch, it is YOU that people will invest in.

Connect with Paramore

Danielle Siarri Danielle Siarri, MSN, RN, Nurse Informatics Specialist and InnoNurse Founder; a HIMSS Women in Health IT Community Member

What advice do you have for women entrepreneurs?

Do not be afraid to adjust strategy and change. Always find like-minded individuals to collaborate with and share resources. Plan for economic challenges. A mentor (regardless of physical vs. virtual) can be a useful guide.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from building a business?

Do your best and learn from your choices. You do not have to be perfect or judge yourself too harshly. Enjoy the process of building something new to share with others.

What inspires you?

Inspiration comes from life, music, a healthy meal or a good conversation. Living life always inspires.

Connect with Siarri

The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.

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Originally published March 6, 2020