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Exceptional women leaders will be honored


Exceptional women who drive Mississippi businesses will be honored at the annual Business Woman of the Year Luncheon Jan. 14 beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the Mississippi Trade Mart.

More than 450 statewide business leaders are expected to attend the luncheon, which is organized annually by the Mississippi Business Journal. The luncheon is a follow-up to the 50 Leading Business Women program, which was held last August.

Event sponsors are the Mississippi Economic Council, BankPlus and St. Dominic Health Services.

The luncheon will include video presentations of the 2009 class of the 50 Leading Business Women of Mississippi, highlighting the winners’ accomplishments while their families, friends and coworkers participate in the festivities. The 10 finalists for Business Woman of the Year will be announced at the end of the presentations, and then the Business Woman of the Year will be named.

Margo Hemphill, owner and founder of Oneway Promotional Products Inc., has enjoyed being part of the 50 Leading Business Women’s Class of 2009. Hemphill enjoyed meeting other women in her class and said there are some phenomenal people in her class who have accomplished a lot in the business world.

Hemphill’s advice to women interested in starting their own businesses is to “find something that you love to do.” Your only real motivation to get up and go to work every morning will be because you like it, she said. Starting out, you won’t be making a huge salary. 

The single most important thing you can do to help your business is take time to network with other women, Hemphill said. There is “no need to reinvent the wheel.” Other women have gone before you and left a great trail of knowledge that they are willing to share, she said. “Be willing to pray a lot, too.”

“Sometimes an idea burns a hole in your heart to the place where you just have to act on it… My reason for starting a business was necessity. To do what I wanted, I was going to have to own the company,” she said.

Hemphill enjoys encouraging others by doing motivational speaking for company seminars. She tries to impart “common-sense, every-day ideas about how to deal with people,” she said.

A class of 1999 member, Rube Del Harden, said it was an honor to have been chosen as one of the 50 Leading Business Women.

Harden owns Sprint Print in Tupelo, Results Inc. consulting firm, Red Bay News in Alabama, the online gift store RecoverySuperstore.com, The Dance Studio ballroom dance studio in Tupelo and the All Star Dance Camp.

In her consulting work Harden helps existing businesses and industries with team building, strategic planning, communications, goal setting and quality management.

Harden advises entrepreneurs to think about the pros and cons of starting new businesses. There is so much to running a business besides just the product or idea, Harden said. Many entrepreneurs don’t think about financing, and I try to give them constructive criticism, she said.

Harden said a secret to her success is being able to evaluate her own strengths as well as weaknesses.

“I really know what I’m good at and I really know what I’m bad at,” she said. Business people must evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and hire people who complement their strengths — not people who are just like them she said. If you don’t like book keeping, get a book keeper, she said.


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