This can go for anyone but Entrepreneurs, we’re talking to you in this one.
Let’s jump right into a simple Q&A and get straight to it.
What are the biggest opportunities for small businesses?
So many times the biggest opportunities for small businesses are their greatest challenges. Let’s use the labor shortage right now, businesses that can offer innovative staffing solutions, help implement digital strategies and help manage customer relationships, have a huge advantage right now. Entrepreneurs are really good at seeing problems and creating solutions. Taking time right now to define your value and get feedback from your customers if it needs to adapt or change is also a big opportunity for small businesses during this economic downturn.
What tips do you have for someone considering starting their own business?
1. Know your “why” and who your target audience is. One of the most important things to consider before starting your business is why are you doing it. Beyond any strategies or logical thinking, it’s important to remember what your motivation is to starting this business and your overall mission. Also, before you establish your business, you need to know your service area and your market. Knowledge of who your competitors are and what need you will be filling in the local area will only help your success. “What” you do is only a fraction of why you do it. When you stay connected to your deeper "why" no matter what’s going on around you, there are no limits to the influence and impact you can create in people’s lives.
2. Start with a business roadmap. Business roadmaps are not to be confused with business plans, in fact, the two are very different. Where a business plan requires intense detail, business roadmaps aren’t meant to go into each individual plan item or goal and the things required to meet those goals. Roadmaps are flexible, working documents that create high-level, relevant actions for the owners. Creating a business roadmap is an important first step for anyone starting a business for obvious reasons. A well-thought-out business roadmap can help you establish and stay focused on company goals and objectives.
3. Build a strong network. Running a small business is no small task, and having a strong support system in place can make the difference between thriving and failing. Take time to establish relationships and build a network of other professionals and outside experts who can help you. It’s also a great idea to network with other small businesses by joining your local Chamber, or other business and industry organizations. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and build connections.
4. Understand your finances. Managing your money is critical for growth. Achieving success in cash flow management means utilizing tools that can help you accurately predict, plan, and continue to be prepared for challenges, which are all an important part of maintaining the growth of your business.
Are Mentors the next big trend in entrepreneurship?
Mentoring gives access to influential peers, future sponsors, and experts they might never have interacted with before to help set milestones specific to their business and solve common business challenges. Having a dedicated peer-to-peer network can help founders anchor their vision and gain clarity on what their business priorities are over the next quarters. Importantly, coaching or mentoring can accelerate the growth of small businesses so that it takes less time to reach and stay profitable. If you’re lucky enough to secure a mentor, paid or pro bono, you’ve truly humbled yourself in taking your business to the next level. For a lot of people, it’s hard to ask for help and this goes for brand new and seasoned businesses. Not all mentors are created equal but if you’re looking for new insight and see your mentor’s business doing things the way you'd like, then it can definitely be worth it.
Predictions on small businesses going forward?
Entrepreneurs are resilient and positive by nature. They will overcome the extensive challenges of the pandemic and become even stronger and more committed to their businesses. I think there will be a ton of first-time entrepreneurs, who by choice or circumstance decide that now is their time to start their business. The pandemic brought forward a lot of gaps in equity, access, and service and that too will inspire entrepreneurs to find better solutions. Keep your eye out for growth in purpose-driven business models that are very intentional about meeting customer needs in a way that helps the whole community.