It’s the first week of May which means all week long, from May 2nd through May 8th, we are celebrating National Small Business Week! For more than 50 years, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has celebrated National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.
National Small Business Week 2022 celebrates the resiliency and tenacity of America’s entrepreneurs who are doing their part to power our nation’s historic economic comeback. And what an appropriate theme – small businesses definitely deserve this week of recognition now more than ever. It’s no secret that small businesses owners have hustled and grinded the past couple of years to keep their businesses alive.
According to the 2021 survey, there are 32.5 million small businesses in the US, which account for 99.9% of all US businesses – and Parmetech is one of them! Celebrating 31 years in business and in honor of NSBW, I sat down with our President, Ana Fernandez-Parmet, to talk about and reflect on her own small business journey of growing a successful business.
When did you start your business and what initially motivated you to start your business?
My husband and I co-founded Parmetech, Inc in January of 1991. Our first-born was two months old (who is now the Vice President of Operations at Parmetech!). Before I got pregnant, I was working as the Inside Sales Coordinator for an export management company and my husband was a computer programmer for a financial institution. He was laid-off when I was four months pregnant. I had told my boss when I announced my pregnancy that I was going to stay home with my baby for at least the first year because I did not want to put my baby in day care. That was my biggest motivation – I was inspired by NOT wanting to put my baby in day care.
My husband did some consulting for a few months but we decided that we could try to do our own thing so we started selling remanufactured toner cartridges for a local manufacturer. We did not have any customer lists and came up with our own lists based on companies in the phone book. We eventually started selling HP product as well, and printers. We had our second child when our son was 19 months old (she is now our Director of Sales & Marketing!). I would deliver the product with my babies in a double-stroller. I would go to the manufacturing plant with the babies in our minivan.
Since that time, we have successfully evolved into a full-service consulting firm specializing in industry-leading technology solutions, products, and services to our customers and are a WBENC-certified woman-owned organization; and our two oldest (the babies who were very much a part of the early years of our business) now work in our business and our taking it to the next level!
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a small business owner?
One of the biggest challenges we have faced as small business owners is hiring qualified business development professionals. Having to fire people has also one been among the biggest challenges!
Navigating the pandemic over the past couple of years has been quite the challenge as well, but we were determined then, and are still determined now to keep our heads up and keep pushing forward!
What is your why – what keeps you motivated as a business owner day after day?
In the early years of the business my “why” was that I wanted to be able to be involved in my children’s day to day lives while also working to provide for them. So, I guess I would say that the “why” was being able to have a flexible schedule. My “why” more recently would be having the opportunity to create an environment for the continuation of the business that sustains our employees. I also really enjoy being able to mentor and support other business owners.
Share 3 things that your customers may not know about you!
I am a first generation Cuban American
I went to high school in Colombia, South America
I can now easily speak publicly. however, I used to be so shy and afraid of speaking that I literally almost passed out when I had to introduce myself at a business event in 1994!
Support Small Businesses During NSBW and Beyond!
Ana has many ties to the Greater Philadelphia community, specifically supporting woman and minority-owned organizations and businesses engaged with diverse suppliers. She was honored as a 2017 Walnut Club Award recipient and a 2017 Women of Color Achievement Award recipient. In 2016, she was the recipient of the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Minority Business Leaders award and Enterprising Women Magazine’s 2016 Enterprising Women of the Year award. She has served on the board for the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) as Immediate Past President of the Philadelphia Chapter over the past two years (she served as President of the Chapter June 2018 – June 2020) and has been a member of NAWBO for over 20 years.
As Ana mentioned in her interview, she really enjoys being able to support other small businesses. So, in honor of NSBW, we want to share a few actionable ways you can support your favorite local businesses, many of which are cost-free, during NSBW and beyond! It only takes you a few minutes and makes a tremendous impact on the small business owner!
Give them a shoutout on your own social media
Engage with and share their social content
Shop small! Whether it’s purchasing a gift card, shopping through their online store, or shopping in person, choose to support small businesses rather than larger retailers.
Sign up for their email list and/or newsletters
Leave their business a positive review online
Refer them to your family, friends, and colleagues