Beth Colosimo is the Executive Director of The Mill and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses (GS10KSB). The Mill is an entrepreneurship center at Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) that offers numerous programs and assistance for entrepreneurs and small business owners. The Mill includes the Small Business Development Center, the co-working and incubator space, the Everyday Entrepreneur Program, Veteran Business Resource Center, Global Business Center and many other services and programs. The Mill and GS10KSB serve thousands of small business owners with the mission to educate, provide resources and access to capital.
Prior to joining SLCC, Beth owned and operated her own small business, Wasatch Home Furnishings. Her professional career also includes working for EDCUtah and various multinational corporations. Beth is a graduate of the University of Utah and received her MBA from Westminster College. Beth works with numerous non-profit boards and community partners in the spirit of collaboration and promoting Utah’s small businesses.
Beth is passionate about working with entrepreneurs and small business owners and those looking to make a difference in their businesses and communities. She is equally passionate about family, travel, golf and India.
On November 19, the Salt Lake Chamber will recognize Beth Colosimo as a 2021 Pathfinder Award recipient at the Women & Business Conference and ATHENA Awards Luncheon. This award is given to community leaders who “create new paths” and promote the development and recognition of women in business.
We asked her a handful of questions to get to know her a little better:
- What are you passionate about? SO many things. Probably too many things which is why I’m constantly overscheduled. Primarily, I’m passionate about providing a hand up, an opportunity to people, especially entrepreneurs who just need a little help with direction, education, resources, and confidence, to pursue what THEY are passionate about. Igniting that spark in someone who sees their own potential to grow personally or professionally is very rewarding. Watching their companies flourish after providing them a network of support is gratifying because I know this success spills over into their personal lives as well. I’m passionate about helping people overcome adversity and obstacles that stand in their way. Fear and lack of confidence prevents so many from creating the life they want for themselves. Helping people overcome these obstacles is also a passion. Personally, I’m very passionate about health and fitness, golf and travel, all of which I enjoy with family and friends. I’m barely home from one trip before planning the next. I learn so much from traveling. Seeing and experiencing other places and cultures is something I’ll never grow tired of. I love to learn and try to seek knowledge in every aspect of my life.
- Share a memorable experience of working with small business owners and entrepreneurs while assisting them to grow. Since this is what I do nearly every day, it’s difficult to name one experience. We’ve consulted, mentored, and educated thousands of small business owners at The Mill. When my team and I conceived and launched a new program called Everyday Entrepreneur, it was memorable to see our first class of students evolve and grow during the course. The class included stay-at-home moms, as well as working minority women who never ever saw themselves as business owners or entrepreneurs. We also had a mix of college students and working professionals. They all came together as total strangers in one room and supported one another as they looked to achieve their dream of owning their own business. Many were terrified to pitch their business on the last day and expressed such sincere gratitude, through tears, for the confidence and support they’d been given throughout the course. That was a very good day.
- What is your most rewarding professional experience? I grew tired of working in corporate America after many years and took a huge leap into business ownership. I, like most entrepreneurs, took out huge loans, had very little knowledge or direction, yet managed to open my own retail home furnishings company. It was definitely a ‘go-big or go home’ moment which is a mantra I continue to have. Watching my vision become a reality and a thriving company was very personally and professionally rewarding. I enjoyed providing opportunities for my employees and building relationships with customers and learned a tremendous amount about how to run a small business. I also learned to trust my instincts and believe in myself as a small business owner and as a leader.
- What does your organization do to support women in business? The Mill Entrepreneurship Center and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses have dozens of programs supporting women in business. More than half the small business owners we serve are women. We’ve seen an uptick in women business owners and entrepreneurs in our co-working space and in our entrepreneur training classes. I recently started a female cohort of 11 Congolese and 1 Nigerian woman in our Everyday Entrepreneur Program (EEP). I’m thrilled to see how enthusiastic this group is and how much they want to learn about the possibility of one day opening their own small business. This is one example of how we support women. We also work with other numerous women’s organizations to provide a network of resources. These resources include The Women’s Business Center of Utah, Utah Women’s Networking Group, Women Tech Council, National Association of Women Business Owners, (NAWBO), WeROC (Women Entrepreneurs Realizing Opportunities for Capital). Our community is full of people and programs designed to help women succeed. I’m incredibly lucky to be part of this collaboration where the goal is always to help women succeed in their professional journey.
- What do you see as the biggest challenge women face in business today? How do you think it can be overcome? We know access to capital is and continues to be a big barrier for female entrepreneurs. While we’re seeing progress, women still face difficulties in the venture capital arena. More women-run VC firms are being created to specifically assist female business owners seeking capital. But I also see, as stated, that women often face fear and lack of confidence with believing in themselves to push ahead with their dreams. When women lean into education and a network of fellow entrepreneurs who support them and believe in them, women become empowered to dream bigger and overcome self-inflicted obstacles to their own success. We must continue providing opportunities, particularly for minority women and those who traditionally haven’t had role models, to see that business ownership can be accomplished and that it is within their reach.
- What does having grit and grace mean to you? Being afraid but moving ahead anyway. As mentioned, fear and lack of confidence generally hold most people back from pursuing their dreams and aspirations. Acknowledging your fear and moving ahead anyway takes grit. Being willing to fail takes grace and courage. Sharing your gifts and talents with others and aspiring to be your best self always requires grit and grace.
- What advice would you give to aspiring women leaders? Find a network, even a single person or mentor to support you, to believe in you, and to help direct you. Leadership belongs to anyone who can make a difference in guiding the trajectory of another person’s life. It doesn’t take a lofty title or position to be a leader. Start by leading in your family, your community, or in your own life, by listening and taking deliberate action to be your best self or by helping others rise to their own personal potential. That to me is leadership.