Entrepreneurs must first buy, bargain, finesse their way to the negotiating table


Carla Walker-Miller never imagined herself as an entrepreneur. In fact, when she first encountered the word “entrepreneur” while she was growing up, she thought it meant good-looking men who didn’t have jobs. That’s what she saw in the magazines: men talking about their ideas and starting companies but never seeming to work.

Walker-Miller, 58, pursued what she describes as an expected path for her generation. She attended college, where she earned a degree in engineering, and then made her way into Corporate America. But as she hit the glass ceiling for her gender and race—and watched her girlfriends doing the same at their jobs—she struck out on her own.

Initially, Walker-Miller formed a firm that distributed medium and high-voltage electrical equipment, an easy transition from her time at Westinghouse Electric Corp. But when contracts dried up during the recession, she almost lost her business. She switched her focus to energy…

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