Connecting and growing

Deb Kalsbeek created a platform to help Grand Rapids women entrepreneurs; now she’s going national.
Deb Kalsbeek created a platform for women business owners that she wished had existed when she was first starting out with her business. Photo by Quinn Kirby

Deb Kalsbeek has a passion for helping women achieve their goal of growing their business by offering community support, resources and education. A few years ago, Kalsbeek created Facebook networking group GRBossBabes to help Grand Rapids women grow their businesses by connecting and networking through the platform. After seeing demand for her platform outside of Grand Rapids, Kalsbeek expanded her vision this past year and launched FemPro-Women In Business and began offering services nationwide. She also said men are welcome to join the groups, as well.

Grand Rapids Magazine: What are some of the services you offer/provide to your Facebook members (both online and offline)?

Deb Kalsbeek: The online GRBossBabes group is a free online community. … On the daily, we were having to deny people access to GRBossBabes Facebook group because they weren’t within the greater Grand Rapids area. We wanted to serve all identifying women in business, so we created the national group FemPro-Women In Business. You can either be part of the greater Grand Rapids-area group, where it all started, or you can join the national group. Membership includes new training every month to help business owners grow their business, a business directory, a business automation e-course and a podcast.

GRM: What are some of the goals you have for the year with the group?

DB: In 2021, I want to provide more growth for businesses by providing strong training, mentoring, podcast episodes and more.

GRM: How do you think the group has helped women business owners in the community?

DB: I hear over and over again how women in business have been able to grow their business from referrals inside the group. They have been able to make connections. It provides an open community.

“I hear over and over again how women in business have been able to grow their business from referrals inside the group. They have been able to make connections. It provides an open community.”
Deb Kalsbeek

GRM: Women have unique challenges when operating a small business. What is one of the common challenges you hear about?

DB: Often that they are moms trying to juggle it all. This is why I created the business automation e-course. I understand this as I am a mom myself. Not all of our members are moms, but many of them are. We all need to learn how to streamline our processes and simplify our businesses to juggle life and business.

GRM: Has COVID-19 impacted your members in different ways than maybe their male counterparts?

DB: I believe it goes back to the moms. At least from what I have heard from our members. They are trying to pivot their business during a pandemic while also trying to homeschool their kids.

GRM: What was the most challenging thing for you in 2020?

DB: Losing my daughter in September 2020 at almost full-term. It is also what changed how I am going to approach 2021. I lost a daughter in 2019 in the second trimester. Both times my business was able to continue, and I was able to take a step back to mourn. I had a system in place, and it ran by itself. … This is why in 2021, I want to personally teach business owners the importance of putting a system in place and exactly how to do that. I know firsthand how important it is for a business — and for the owner.

This story can be found in the March 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox each month, subscribe here

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