From paratrooper to finance expert, a Clinton woman gives business advice
November 18, 2008 · Updated 3:44 PM
Business in general is not currently the best it will ever be.
But that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.
That’s where business maverick and Clinton resident Nina Fenton can help.
Fenton will present a business seminar entitled “Taking Care of Business 101” as part of the Women in Business series at
6 p.m. tomorrow in the Front Room at the Bayview Cash Store in Langley.
If there is anyone on the South End who can help business owners or business starters, Fenton’s credentials seem to make her a shoe-in for the job.
A changing economy and difficult times can bring about new challenges that need new ideas. Fenton’s seminar will cover such topics as how to write a business plan that works, how to raise capital in today’s market and how to market effectively, among other topics.
“There are several reasons why the majority of small businesses don’t make it,” Fenton said.
“Chiefly is that most are run as a hobby or an afterthought. Not as a business.”
Fenton is a senior executive with
25 years of leadership experience in the military, several Fortune 500 corporations and in the field of private enterprise.
She graduated summa cum laude from the Royal Danish Military Academy with a degree in economics, and served as commanding officer of a combat arms unit for NATO. That honor put her in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first woman ever to land such a position.
Following her service, she immigrated to the United States and was the first Dane to graduate from Harvard University with a master’s degree in business.
Following her graduation from business school, Fenton had a successful career in finance in the corporate worlds of Europe and America.
But the world of higher education called and she plunged in full throttle.
A natural multi-tasker, Fenton went on to direct a global MBA program at City University of Seattle which reached out to thousands of students in 11 countries, while she simultaneously evaluated hundreds of business proposals and plans annually for a separate business development program.
Currently, Fenton is in charge of mergers and acquisitions at the Business Planning Group in Seattle.
So what does all this exquisite business experience mean to those who attend her seminar?
Fenton said her goal is to have those who attend to walk away with the tools of action needed to run a good business.
“A renewed commitment, an actionable idea or something you can put into action on Friday,” Fenton said, is what she aims to give people.
“In other words, decide to either run your business the right way, run it better — if you are already successful — or not at all,” she said.
Fenton explained that there are countless “business books” on the “10 steps to success and, this and that.”
But the books, she said, almost always miss the point of commitment.
Fenton said she recommends avoiding the trap of running one’s family and bank account through the ringer. She encourages business owners to commit to just do what it takes.
The ultimate outcome is up to each business owner. Financial success is not the only goal, Fenton said.
“But I have personally seen so many well-meaning people run what I call kamikaze businesses,” she said.
“As with the law of gravity, there truly are laws, principles and best practices one must follow to ensure business success. Those are gender blind and color blind, and that’s the good news.”
Fenton said when she evaluates a business she uses the Rotary’s four-way test as a guide. Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
“The bad news is if you do not follow them, you might as well hang up your shingle and go get a job; preferably with benefits,” she said.
“I’d like the audience to leave with a renewed commitment. That may include not starting one or even closing down an existing business. That’s not shameful; sometimes that’s just smart,” Fenton said.
The evening will be hosted by Jim Freeman, with Fenton speaking from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 at the door. Tickets are available at Boomerang at Ken’s Korner in Clinton, Living Green and Oriental Healing Arts in Langley, and Salon Spring and
1504 Coffee Shop in Freeland.