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Girl Boss: How to Run a Successful Female-Owned Biz

Wednesday, 19 April 2017 11:07
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Girl Boss: How to Run a Successful Female-Owned Biz

Anyone can run a business, but only few are successful. Over 10 years ago Amy Ritsema and Mary Kline joined and founded OnSite Wellness, a workplace wellness company in Grand Rapids. At a time when employers became more conscientious about their employees health, Amy and Mary saw an opportunity and acted upon it.

Fast forward to 2017: OnSite Wellness has surpassed over $1.2 million in annual revenue and has expanded its services to over 85 clients in 15 states, since opening its doors. Just last year, OnSite Wellness received its Women's Business Enterprise Certification (WBEC) through the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), designating OnSite as a fully women-owned company.

With over 35 years of experience in workplace wellness and more than a decade of experience as business owners, it's accurate to say that Amy and Mary fit the mold of "girl boss."

What has been the biggest challenge you have overcome in starting and managing your own business?

We had a unique challenge when we started OnSite Wellness in that we were both working for a small organization that was providing medical and wellness services to area organizations. We had a vision for the wellness side of the business, and we knew we had to make incremental steps to achieve these goals. We decided to approach the owners of the organization to purchase the wellness side of the business from them in order for us to achieve the goals and level of service we knew we could achieve. The challenge came from deciding how to separate ourselves, and how much the division of a service based business was worth.

The next challenge came as we were setting up the business. How should we price our services? We wanted our services to be something even smaller companies could afford, yet stay profitable enough that we took home a paycheck that at least paid a few bills and put groceries on the table. Needless to stay, the pricing structure has ebbed and flowed over the years, and we have always managed to buy groceries.

What motivated you to start OnSite Wellness?

The idea of being our own bosses was an exciting thought. We had a model we knew would work, a drive for success, and our overall goals and vision established. The ability to take our passion for wellness to others, and still be able to have the flexibility to have time with family made starting OnSite Wellness a win-win.

What advice do you have for women interested in taking the plunge and starting their own business?

Ask yourself the "hard" questions prior to diving in. Do you have a product or service that is needed? Are you surrounding yourself with good people, organizations and other business owners? Do you have the financing necessary to run a business for the first year, before it gets off the ground? Can you support yourself and start the business at the same time?

Our greatest piece of advice is to always ask questions. There is always someone willing to help. West Michigan is great place to start a business.

Have you ever felt that being a female entrepreneur put you at a disadvantage, or an advantage?

Honestly, we really don't think this has affected us. We are both confident women. We also work with a large number of human resource people, which is a female-dominated area. We do think that there have been times when we weren't given an equal opportunity with potential clients because we weren't apart of the 'good ole boys club'.

But of course, there is always another opportunity down the road. Vendor diversity is becoming more prevalent within organizations, and we're hoping that potential vendors will realize the benefits to working with a certified woman owned business.

To learn more about OnSite Wellness' workplace wellness programs, visit www.onsitewellnessllc.com.

Written by Emma Thibault, Public Relations Coordinator at 834 Design & Marketing, West Michigan transplant, avid social media user and dog lover.