Women in Business: Barbara Taylor

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,469 views 

Class of 2018 Women in Business Barbara Taylor Co-founder Allan Taylor & Co., Bentonville

Residence: Bella Vista

Education: B.A., English, Seattle Pacific University; MBA with emphasis on marketing and business law, Seattle University

Professional background: A mergers and acquisitions broker and business valuation specialist, Taylor co-founded Allan Taylor & Co. in 2007 after selling a drive-thru espresso business. She worked more than a decade in the wireless telecommunications industry in product marketing, brand management and marketing communications. She was a blogger for The New York Times for three years, and her work has been published in Inc. magazine, Entrepreneur, Forbes, HuffPost and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal.

What inspired you to pursue your current career? When my husband and I sold our business back in 2006, we used a broker to help us. While we valued the role a broker plays in getting a business sold, we felt we could offer a much higher level of service. I’ve spent over a decade now working exclusively with entrepreneurs. I used to think an entrepreneur was someone who invented something totally new. What I’ve come to realize is that most of us just have a burning desire to show the world we can offer a better product or service.

What achievement are you most proud of so far in your career? I’ll always be proud of the years I spent blogging about buying, selling and valuing small businesses for The New York Times. I’ve written for other publications, but writing for the Times was a real honor. It was incredibly demanding, and my kids were much younger at the time. But I wouldn’t trade all the late nights for anything. I often say that I’m not sure which “me” is the proudest of being a NYT small-business blogger: the English major or the MBA.

What are three words you would use to describe yourself? Realistic. Dependable. Honest.

What’s the most important aspect of achieving a balance between your career and your family? One of the most difficult challenges I’ve faced as a business owner is keeping business from encroaching on my personal life. My husband, Chris, and I are business partners, so we’re constantly talking shop at home. I’ve found it’s really important to plan my week out and stick with a schedule. I’m a big believer in Parkinson’s law, which says that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. I’m constantly trying to get better at sticking to deadlines and setting boundaries.

What was your dream job as a kid? I read all the Nancy Drew books growing up, so I was drawn to the idea of being a detective or a lawyer. I wanted to be the person who solved the mystery, exposed the lie and brought the truth to light.

Last good book you read? “The Underground Railroad,” by Colson Whitehead.

I wish I knew how to … what? I wish I could speak fluent Spanish. I can’t say I’ve gotten a ton of mileage out of my high school French.

What’s the first thing you do at the office each morning?I’m a Seattle girl, so not much gets done until the coffee’s been poured.

Do you feel like we’re getting closer to gender equality in the workplace? Part of the reason you see a disproportionate number of women in the upper ranks of business is because they opt out of corporate life at a higher rate than men. I don’t think we’ll have gender equality in the workplace until we come to terms with why so many women leave. In my case, I left the cubicle in 2003 and never looked back. Corporate America just seemed incompatible with raising a family, in my view. I figured I could find a better way on my own. Melinda Gates recently said, “We’re sending our daughters into a workplace designed for our dads.” I think Millennials are pushing companies to redefine the old workaholic culture, which is a good thing.

Of all the mentors in your professional career, who has been the most influential? One of the things I didn’t anticipate about going out on my own as a business owner was how isolating it would be. I’d like to say that someone took me under their wing, but I’ve actually had to proactively seek out advice from experts all over the country. The person who has definitely been the most influential on my career has been my husband. I’m not sure I would have left the security of corporate life for business ownership without him. I took a leap of faith and was lucky enough to have someone take my hand and jump with me.

What’s your biggest passion? I’m happiest when I’m learning. I set goals every year and always include a conference or class that will either enhance my existing skills or give me
a new one. I’m one of those people who would have loved to stay in school forever. It probably explains why I’m a voracious reader. There’s just so much to learn.