Vancouver resident Deena Pierott, proprietor of the diversity recruitment company Mosaic Blueprint, is winner of the Minority Enterprise Development Week Minority Business Award for Professional Services.
The national honor is bestowed each year by the US Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency. Pierott will be feted at a ceremony Oct. 6 at the Portland Convention Center.
Pierott is also founder of the Urban Entrepreneurs Network in Southwest Washington, is on the Commission for Black Affairs specializing in the area of economic development, and serves on the Oregon/Washington/Alaska NAACP as economic development chair.
Pierott says economic development is a civil rights issue.
"When you think of it all of it goes hand in hand, economic development, community health, civil rights," she says.
"We have to be engaged, we have to support our multicultural business owners – and we as multicultural business owners need to support each other more collaboratively instead of being divided."
Mosaic Blueprint offers diversity recruiting, diversity workshops and consulting for large corporations as well as government agencies.
The Urban Entrepreneurs Network, which Pierott started in 2008, is geared towards individual entrepreneurs building their business capacity.
"I saw that there was really nothing for minority businesses here in Southwest Washington," she said. "There was no networking, there were no development services, none of those types of things."
She says the idea took off immediately, providing small business owners access to opportunities with the support of the city of Vancouver, Clark County, Washington State University, and now even the TrailBlazers.
"When I look at things I'm very inclusive," Pierott says. "So I do work not only for African Americans but also Latinos in the community, the Asian community — and what can we do collectively to support each other and create economic development opportunities for ourselves."
Pierott says even though her specialty is diversity recruiting, mentoring and networking, she doesn't have a "typical client."
"With Mosaic Blueprint, I try to reach out to large corporations, because what I do with Mosaic is specialized and diversity recruiting at the professional level," she said.
"I tell organizations that I work with across the country that when they hire someone of color in their organization that sends a message to other folks that are coming into their organizations.
"For instance If I'm new to a company if I see someone that looks like me in that corner office, then I know that company is inclusive, that I can possibly get there as well. So when I walk in if I don't see any faces of color in that executive suite? Then I know I've got a challenge to get there, and I may not get there. I may give it a shot, and I may not stay there long."
What are the most important things for small business owners to know in surviving this bad business climate?
"You have to be flexible, you have to be able to morph your business into a different direction if need be," Pierott says.
It's a rule Pierott knows from experience, because two years ago she started a recruiting company right at the time when everyone started laying off their staff.
So what did she do? She tried something different, morphing her company into out-placement services.
"I was doing a little work for Hewlett Packard, I was doing workshop for their staff that was about to be laid off," she says. At the same time she started the Job Café, a job support network for individuals.
"So you have to be able to think quickly see what the needs are and be able to flex your business slightly to fit that need," Pierott said.
"Don't forget what your original business was in the first place you can get back into that area, but always think about multiple streams of income, multiple programs you can implement, and morph and flex too," she said.
"When I first started my company I had so many different ways I would move, shift. And people would tell me, you've got to stay focused on one thing. Well, no I don't have to stay focused on just one thing, and I'm glad I didn't, because I was able to have multiple projects that could all be income generators. If one was declining, I could hype up the other ones. And that's what I did.
"So I would say to anyone that has an established business and you're losing money, think about how you could create another program, slightly off the track of what you're doing now, that still complements your business.
"And for new folks starting up now, always stay flexible – don't be so rigid in your business that you end up failing in the long term. So again I would say, flexibility, and staying on top of the current trends."
For more information on Mosaic Blueprint and the Job Cafe, go to www.mosaicblueprint.com