Path Home Shows 2009 Show Archive May 2009 Show 0918 Women's Business Center

Women's Business Center

It's estimated that over 90% of small businesses will not make it past their first year. Which is why REI's Women's Business Center helps female entrepreneurs balance the responsibilities of family life and working for themselves.
Women's Business Center

Sandy Johnson, Anautics

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The Women's Business Center at REI

Show Dates

Show 0918: Women's Business Center

Air date: May 3, 2009



Rob:  As any small business owner will tell you, taking an entrepreneurial vision from dream to reality is no easy task.  It’s estimated that over ninety percent of small businesses will not make it past their very first year.  So claiming a spot among that top tier of successful companies is indeed an extraordinary achievement, which is why REI’s Women’s Business Center helps female entrepreneurs balance the responsibilities of family life and working for themselves.  Our Russ Jowell introduces us to a high tech business owner in Oklahoma City who’s as passionate about her business as she is dedicated to her family.

Russ:  The building may be a reminder of the past, but the company within has a keen eye on the future.  Software engineer, Michael Martin, is collaborating with his team at Anautics Incorporated, reviewing progress on a programming project for the Department of Education.

Sandy Johnson:  Can you put a button on there that will, where it says view?

Russ:  Big ideas abound in the company’s brick lined hallways.  The essence of a tight knit family business on the cutting edge, and an innovative business leader going above and beyond to keep her small company on the path to big success.

Johnson:  I think we have a lot of out-of-the-box thinkers in programming.

Russ:  That leader is Dr Sandy Johnson, a veteran educator turned business owner who built her company from the ground up with little more than a desire to help educators connect their students with the latest technology.

Johnson:  Well I spent 25 years in mathematics education and technology education.  So, I think it’s very important as long as we keep it in perspective and not use it as a crutch but use it as an aide.

Russ:  In this time of massive layoffs and corporate scandals, Anautics is a breath of fresh air in the business world.  And women owners, like Dr Johnson, are putting a new face on Oklahoma entrepreneurship.

Mary Fallin:  Well small businesses are the backbone of Oklahoma’s economy.  It’s the economic engine, especially in the rural areas.

Russ:  Congresswoman Mary Fallin serves on the U S house committee for small business, and says building a foundation for women entrepreneurs in Oklahoma will in turn strengthen the foundation of Oklahoma’s economy.

Mary Fallin:  Ninety-seven percent of our businesses in Oklahoma have 100 or fewer employees.  We’re not a state that has huge businesses that employs, you know, a huge portion of our population; we’re a small business, entrepreneur driven economy. And so it’s very important that we do all that we can to ensure that our small businesses can thrive and create jobs and create wealth.

Russ:  And for entrepreneurs like Sandy, creating that wealth in her business means staffing her company with Oklahoma bred talent, sowing professional seeds that will reap big rewards for the state

Johnson:  All of our young people are Oklahoma educated.  Not all of them were all Oklahoma residents, but they are now.  And so that’s one of the advantages, one of them was born and raised in Texas.  So I think it’s really important that we focus on what we can do for our state economically, and try to retain those graduates that are highly skilled and highly educated.

Russ:  And while Sandy’s journey from educator to entrepreneur is remarkable, she isn’t the first woman to trek down that path.  Congresswoman Kay Granger, of Texas, also serves on the committee with Fallin, and shares some of the challenges of being mother and entrepreneur.

Kay Granger:  I was a teacher, and a single parent, had three little children and decided that I wanted to go into business.

Russ:  A feat that required dedication and sacrifice for the single mother of three.

Granger:  And I finally then just started on my savings.  I had my teacher retirement and cashed in my teacher retirement, it was very difficult.  If you don’t have that, if you haven’t had that experience, know how to put together a business plan, know how to put together a financial plan that’s more than just an idea.

Russ:  And according to Granger, planning and preparation are absolute necessities for small business.

Granger:  The discipline of having to put a business plan together and a finance plan also serves you well to stay through that first year, which is, when still nine-out-of-ten can’t make it through the first year.

Russ:  Sandy’s company has made it through their first year, now just months away from marking their tenth anniversary.  She now takes pride in knowing that her hard work and dedication has built a strong organization that is recognized in the community and respected by her peers.

Johnson:  We’ve already made a name for ourselves with Anautics.  People know who we are and what we do.  So we stayed with it; that’s how it started.

Russ:  Paving the way for Oklahoma businesswomen to live their dreams and pursue their passion.

Rob:  And Russ tells us, according to the U S Small Business Administration, about thirty-one percent of small businesses in Oklahoma are owned by women, an increase of almost eleven percent from just a decade ago.