by Diane VanDyke
Serial entrepreneur Kimberle Levin thrives on the chaos of starting new businesses. With 10 companies under her belt, she has real-life knowledge to share.
Levin, who teaches Montgomery County Community College’s award-winning “Starting a Woman-Owned Business” program, has expanded her audience as host of a new show she created on Montco Radio, the College’s student-run Internet radio station.
“The Female Entrepreneur,” which airs on Mondays from 10-11 a.m. ET, offers straight-up advice to women hoping to launch or grow their own businesses. Tune in live at http://www.mc3.edu by clicking on the green microphone in the lower right corner of the page. Listen live
“Every week, I chat with women who have started companies, sold them or shut them down. We talk about the entire journey of the good, the bad and the very ugly!” exclaims Levin, 49, who has a guest bookings lined up 120 days in advance. Listeners are encouraged to tweet questions during the show @KimberleLevin.
While some of Levin’s guests come from farther afield, others are closer to home, including MCCC students who have started their own businesses.
“It’s a terrific marketing opportunity for these female entrepreneurs,” says the Pennsauken, N.J. native.
Despite changes in U.S. society, she comments, women still have a very different journey from men when they decide to go into business. Almost all women are engaged in multitasking in their everyday lives. Starting a business adds complexity that is sometimes difficult to handle since it interrupts the family routine.
“Starting a business is not easy or everyone would be doing it,” Levin says of starting a company. “But men, if they have a support system at home — it can be easier for them. The balance of roles is different.” Women have dreams, too.” she adds.
In her MCCC class, she finds that women often have multiple ideas for businesses that they need to winnow down to a single solid one. They also should examine whether their idea passes Levin’s test of “will the dogs eat it?”
“If the dogs are willing to eat it, what are they willing to pay for it? If they’re willing to pay for it, will they come back for more? If they come back for more, will they tell all their friends about it? This is a simple test of can an idea become a business,” she adds.
In mulling this, some would-be entrepreneurs may find that launching one’s own company is “just not for them,” as Levin says.
Fortunately, though, that did not hold true for her. A former secretary, over the past 25 years, Levin has founded several companies, and is identified in the business world as “a serial entrepreneur.”
“I’m not afraid to jump in and launch a new venture. In my mind, it’s going to work,” she says, adding that if she can visualize a business, she can make a company out of it. Of the 10 companies she has started, only two had to be put back on the shelf.
JVC Technologies, Telcom Assistance Center, KizTri3, Teknuko and The Kimberle Levin Companies are just a few of her launchings. Today she consults and mentors entrepreneurs and business leaders across the company.
“When you’ve sat in the chair of an entrepreneur and know what they’re feeling because you’ve been there, the trust between you becomes instant,” Levin states.
Once a kid who wanted to help others by giving away her toys, Levin hopes to aid women in navigating the entrepreneurial life with its highest of highs and lowest of lows.
“I have worked in a man’s world my entire professional career and have wanted to do something for women entrepreneurs to ensure they knew the real deal to become successful,” she says. “My advice is straight-up — real world. It’s not that difficult if you put on the uniform and show up to play the game to win. I’m very open and honest about it.”