When Tia Sirmans of Green Bay connected with Mary Townsend and Amy Baker at several area networking events, they discovered a commonality in purpose. All were starting consultant businesses, and each had a unique skill set.
"It’s a unique group," Sirmans said. "I had been thinking about starting a business for quite a few years; just toying it around in my mind. When I met Mary and Amy, there was a synergy that we have together. With the culture focused on diversity, we can offer a different approach as a female-operated business."
The business, Thrive Culture and Engagement, was founded by Townsend and now consists of three businesses that work as one. Townsend specializes in helping organizations develop and support a healthy workplace culture, and Baker organizes, implements, and facilitates positivity and well-being workshops and seminars.
Sirmans, who is developing her business with the help of Green Bay SCORE mentors, focuses on human resources.
"All of us have experienced negative workplace cultures firsthand. I care about how people function in the workplace. When people come to work and aren’t themselves, they are discontent," Sirmans added.
With 15 years of experience, she wants to help employers create an inclusive workplace where employees feel they are working for a cause and what they do matters because it is personalized.
"I want to help organizations bridge human resources and strategic planning," she said. "Demographics are shifting, and I can help organizations through that transition."
As Sirmans determines the best way to accomplish that goal, she will be seeking advice from SCORE mentors Sheila Leonard and Paul Carron, both former business owners. Leonard has decades of experience in human resources.
"I wrote a business plan and asked to have it reviewed," Sirmans said. "The revenue projections were the hardest part."
Leonard has helped with pricing, and doing a competitive analysis. Sirmans found that there is "a fair amount" of competition in the area, and she is working on developing a niche that will make her business stand out.
Part of that niche is partnering with Baker and Townsend so that a broader array of services can be offered. Another is offering what she calls a virtual human resources director where she will provide the flexibility of helping on an as-needed basis.
She spends hours researching and studying labor laws and can also offer a review of an organization’s compliance.
"I understand laws, and a company doesn’t always have the resources to stay on top of that. Laws are always changing; especially when there is a leadership change like we just had in Madison," she noted.
Her target is companies that have 50 to 250 employees and may not need a full-time HR director, but do need to be aware of changes in the law that affect hiring and the workplace environment.
But if she had to pick one area that she is most passionate about, it would be the importance of diversity and inclusion, and of finding talent that reflects a changing workforce.
"We are in a war to find good talent, and the need to engage and retain that talent," she said. Among her skills are the ability to lay out a plan for attracting and developing talent, and to find potential areas of concern before they become an issue. She believes the best teams are built on diversity of thought.
With her partners, as each develops her own business within the business, there is a singular vision of providing organizations with a strong foundation to continually develop and maintain their culture, live the culture on a daily basis, and always deliver on their culture promise.
Sirmans is excited to be part of that, and believes "this is the best time in the history of our country for female entrepreneurs to start a business."
Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and past district director for SCORE, Wisconsin.