Jennifer D. Collins
Host Committee Co-Chair President & CEO,
“There quickly comes a time when you need to shift your focus from working in the business to working on the business. The quicker you recognize this will place you in a better position to begin thinking strategically about where you want to take your business and how the resources and relationships you build will help sustain you along your journey.”
About JDC EVENTS
JDC Events builds stronger teams through designing unique corporate trainings known as Experiential Insights. We take teams out of the office to learn from experts in a parallel or similar industry to learn new skills that can be applied back in the office. You can expect your team to be challenged to strengthen their performance while generating insightful ideas.
Headquartered: Silver Spring, MD
Company Website: www.jdc-events.com
When and how was your business started?
I started JDC Events part-time while working in Washington. D.C.-based public relations firms. When I finally launched the business full-time, it just so happened to be two weeks before the September 11 terrorist attacks. That was a time when the hospitality industry was hit hard since business travel came to a stop. I also lost the one client that helped me launch on my own. It took several years to rebuild; however, we were able to do so through relationships from my public relations network, entering the government contracting arena, and prayers that opened doors of opportunity.
How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?
WBENC Certification has afforded me invaluable opportunities to grow my business and benefit from a strong, courageous and inspirational network of women business owners. The educational programs have been transformative, and I’ve had the opportunity to participate in leadership positions supporting other women-owned companies as well. I’ve learned that you get out of it what you put into it, which is why I’ve made it a priority in the building of my business.
What is your business philosophy and how has it impacted your success as a business?
One of my business philosophies is that the receiving is in the giving. While we may get so focused on winning contracts in building our business, we can sometimes lose sight of the other soft benefits that can be as equally rewarding, such as building a strong culture and helping other women in business.
What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs?
Take the time to build a strong network of resources that can help you in all phases of growing the business. While many start a business because they enjoy doing the work, there quickly comes a time when you need to shift your focus from working in the business to working on the business. The quicker you recognize this will place you in a better position to begin thinking strategically about where you want to take your business and how the resources and relationships you build will help sustain you along your journey.
What advice would you share with a newly certified WBE looking to make the most out of her certification?
WBENC Certification is a “license to hunt.” Just because you get certified does not mean you will automatically start winning contracts. You will need to take advantage of every opportunity to get in front of key prospects and be prepared to give something back in the process.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
It’s important to think about your personal picture of victory. We work so hard to run our business, but we often do not think about what we want over the longer term. Knowing where you want to be in 10+ years and how you want to live will be dependent upon decisions made today. So, think about your exit so that you can make the right decisions to meet those goals.
What is your strategy for how you approach the Business Fair?
I research companies in advance that I am interested in targeting. Once the map of the show floor is released, I locate those companies so that we can navigate the floor more efficiently. I also make sure that we are registered in the target company’s supplier diversity portal since they will always direct you to do so. Lastly, once registration opens, I register immediately to be eligible for MatchMakers and to ensure my hotel reservation is within one of the host hotel properties where the main action will be.
What tips do you have for WBEs to get the most out of their time at the National Conference & Business Fair?
Be prepared, pace yourself and wear comfortable shoes. The Business Fair can be overwhelming with so many WBEs vying for the corporations’ attention. Make sure you can clearly articulate your “story” and how it could be a solution. Lastly, be mindful that a casual conversation often starts a relationship. Avoid the hard sell and be open to talking with people to learn about them as you never know where it might lead.