Chamber president has vision for future

By Amber Jenkins

 First African-American to take Bartlett Chamber helm

There are two types of people out there — thinkers and doers. Natasha Donerson, local business owner and entrepreneur, is a doer. She is a self-proclaimed “outside the box” type of thinker, but her track record of success in the business world proves she is definitely proactive when it comes to getting things done.

Donerson is the newly appointed Chairman of the Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce and proudly acknowledges she is the first-ever African American appointed to the position.  Her main focus for 2013 is to help grow Bartlett-area businesses, both large and small. Her desire to help women succeed in business-ownership is a dream becoming realized through the Chamber of Commerce this year.

The Ignite Center for Women Entrepreneurs will soon be opening its doors and showing local female business owners to how to attain exponential growth and success in both the Memphis and national markets. The center will be the hub of a new program sponsored by the BACC that teaches women how to expand their businesses using research gathered by Donerson. The center’s objective is to enable small-scale businesses to expand into million-dollar corporations.

“I think big,” Donerson said. “There are a lot of programs out there for start-up businesses, but no one really focuses on growing existing companies.”

As far as women entrepreneurs go, Donerson said there is not a lot of growth in that area and that once they are off the ground, many of them remain stagnant. According to the Center for Women’s Business Research Institute, female business owners create or maintain more than 23 million jobs in the U.S., accounting for 16 percent of the American workforce. Donerson explained that while the number of female business owners is on the rise many of them fall short of their potential because of lack of capital and influential networks.

The Ignite Center will provide female business owners with tools for success through coaching techniques, marketing, technology assistance and business-building products. These techniques for accelerating overall growth will be illustrated through workshops, live events and online resources. The ultimate goal of the Ignite Center is to assist with job creation and exponential growth of female-owned businesses in Western Tennessee.

“My passion is business,” Donerson said. “Anything that is going to enhance the success of business owners and will increase economic development of this area — I’m drawn to that.”

Donerson’s bevy of accomplishments illustrates her potential to positively influence Bartlett-area businesses.  She serves on the Board of the Greater Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Economic Development Growth Engine, or EDGE, of Memphis and Shelby counties. As President of the Memphis chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Donerson has seen firsthand the problems female owners face and has insight on solutions to foster growth of business rather than hinder it.

Donerson, who majored in Biology in college, decided to take alternative path to medicine and found her forte in pharmaceutical sales. She said business is her primary strength, and after working in sales for a time, decided to go into business for herself as a strategic business coach. When she became aware of some of the obstacles she faced as an entrepreneur, Donerson decided she wanted to assist other business owners as a professional business consultant. She and partner Shayna Rattler decided to go into business together and founded Success Unlimited.

Success Unlimited is a professional consulting firm in Bartlett, and is the Mid-South’s leading diversity expert. They work with both large and small businesses, as well as government agencies, helping them with leadership development, diversity training and strategic growth planning.                Donerson has been on the Board at the Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce for two years, and only a few weeks after she started, began implementing ways to grow the Bartlett economy.  She headed the “Staying Ahead of the Curve” business workshop for the past two years, and isn’t stopping there.

“I really like the direction the Chamber of Commerce is already going, but we’re just gonna kick it up a notch this year,” Donerson said.

The three things she will be focusing her efforts on this year include becoming more involved with corporate members of the chamber, helping small businesses become more active in the community and heading the Ignite Center for Women Entrepreneurs.

“I want to see members of the chamber collaborate with one another and understand that we are all in this together, so we should seek out ways to support each other,” Donerson said. “As far as for the Bartlett community — we need to figure out what more we can do to make sure Bartlett is the number one place to work and play.”