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  • 28 October 2014
  • Tracy Spahr

Celebrating Women’s Small Business Month: "Be excited to go to work every day"

While women may still face challenges in the business world, they are “leaning in” more than ever. According to the National Business Administration, women are one of the fastest growing segments of American entrepreneurs, and their businesses are invaluable to the growth of our national economy. October is National Women’s Small Business Month and we want to recognize and celebrate some of these outstanding female business owners.

Passion, hard work and honesty are words that describe Lana Whitehead. Over the last four decades, Lana has managed to establish and grow a successful business, while balancing the duties of a committed wife and mother.

I can come up with ideas, but I am not a tough business person, so, I recruited a team of executors who helped me turn my ideas into reality. I can’t run my business without them.

Lana is a nationally-recognized swim expert and the owner of SWIMkids USA, a swimming school for children in Phoenix, Arizona.

Lana’s path to small business success began in 1971. While visiting a community center pool, she was spotted by a staff member doing something very unusual at that time—teaching her four-month-old son how to swim. Administrators of the community center were intrigued and asked her develop a program for other children that age.

“It was something out of ordinary,” said Lana.

The program she developed was a huge success and soon attracted the attention of local media. Two years later, Lana branched out on her own and established her own swim school in Northern California. Later, after relocating and opening SWIMkids USA, Lana went back to school to earn her master’s degree from Arizona State University. There, as part of her thesis, she conducted three research projects to document and validate her teaching methods. Thanks to hard work and thoughtful study, her swim program is now regarded one of the most effective in the world!

Lana’s time outside of the pool and classroom is also critical to her business success, but she admits it definitely takes a team. As an entrepreneur, she had a vision in her head of where she wanted her business to go but knew she needed help to reach these goals.

“I can come up with ideas, but I am not a tough business person, so, I recruited a team of executors who helped me turn my ideas into reality. I can’t run my business without them.”

Additionally, as a female business owner, Lana found herself challenged by the dual responsibilities she had to her business and her family.

“Being a mother of three and a business owner is very difficult. There is no such thing as a superwoman and that’s okay,” she says.

Thankfully, Lana’s husband and staff understood her dual priorities and were ready and willing to help when her kids were young. Balancing work and home life can be challenging for anyone, and female entrepreneurs find themselves under the expectation to shoulder and succeed at everything. Lana’s message to fellow female business owners is that sometimes we can’t do it all, and that we should embrace the help and support offered from those around us.

Over the past 40 years, SWIMkids USA has successfully trained more than 50,000 children and has been featured in the national media, including NBC’s TODAY show, Parents magazine and CBS’s Early Show. During that time, Lana’s team has grown from five people to nearly 50 and she has also authored several swimming articles and books, created videos, and lectured at conferences and swim forums around the world. In 2012, Lana was inducted into the U.S. School Association’s Hall of Fame. She also received an honorable mention at the 2013 Enterprising Women magazine Enterprising Women of the Year Awards.

After 40 years, Lana still she loves what she does and says she’s excited about getting up and going to work every day – something that should be encouraging to us all.

For more information on SWIMkids USA, visit swimkidsaz.com or follow them on Facebook.

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