In public relations, real estate and food, meet 3 Maine women who mean business

Roxane Cole says small-business owners need drive and a passion for their work.

Staff photo by Gregory Rec

ROXANE COLE: Falmouth-based Roxane Cole Commercial Real Estate LLC is one of the many sole proprietorships that make up the majority of small businesses in Maine.

Founded in 2010 by Roxane Cole, the one-woman firm represents clients who are looking to buy, sell or lease commercial property.

Cole has been a commercial real estate broker for over 30 years. Before starting her own firm, she was co-owner of a leading Portland commercial brokerage where she was a broker for 23 years.

Cole said it is essential in her line of work to build a level of trust with clients so they know that their financial interests are being protected and their confidentiality maintained.

In general, she said small-business owners need to have a drive and a passion for their work in order to succeed.

“Successful people work hard,” she said. “They work hard, or they are excellent in some way to make people work hard for them.”

Pamela Laskey says an abundance of support is available to small-business owners in Maine.

Kevin Bennett photo

PAMELA LASKEY: Portland-based Maine Foodie Tours has taken the state’s reputation as a destination for both tourists and food lovers and turned it into a unique business opportunity.

Founder Pamela Laskey created the business in 2009 and has since grown the operation to four locations and 30 employees. In 2017, the company received the U.S. Small Business Administration award for Maine’s Women-owned Business of the Year.

Maine Foodie Tours organizes two- to three-hour guided walking tours of dining hot spots in Portland, Kennebunkport, Boothbay and Bar Harbor.

Laskey said one of the best things about owning a small business in Maine is the abundance of support offered by organizations such as SCORE and the Maine Small Business Development Center.

“It’s really been an enormous advantage to me,” she said. “Without them, I probably would not be in business today.”

Linda Varrell says the rewards of owning a business aren’t just financial.

LINDA VARRELL: Broadreach Public Relations founder Linda Varrell makes her living by telling other people’s stories, but she has an interesting success story of her own.

Founded in 2006, Broadreach has grown from a one-woman operation to a firm with 12 full-time positions that recently expanded into an adjacent office space. Varrell said the firm’s revenue has increased by 20 percent over the past year.

Before starting her own company, Varrell worked in the banking industry for 25 years, where she mastered both corporate communications and project management. She ultimately decided to put those skills to work for herself and a growing list of clients that include large-scale service organizations, state associations and others.

Varrell said there are numerous benefits to owning a business beyond the financial rewards.

“I like the aspect of creating jobs, but also part of our culture is we’re mentoring the next generation of communications professionals,” she said. “We always have interns and apprentices.”

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