Celebrating National Small Business Week 2015: How to ‘Dream Big, Start Small’
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) declared the theme for National Small Business Week 2015 to be “SBA: Dream Big, Start Small.” National Small Business Week (NSBW) is being celebrated across the country this week with the SBA holding events in five major cities: Miami, Los Angeles, San Antonio, New York City and Washington, D.C. The celebration ends tomorrow with National Small Business Week awards being presented to winners in D.C. If you can’t make it to an in-person event, watch them live on the SBA website. You should also take advantage of the free webinars the SBA hosted this week. Make sure to follow @SBA.gov and @1800Broadview to see the latest updates on this year’s #DreamSmallBiz themed events.
Many of our clients are small businesses, so we know first-hand the challenges they face. We want to take this time to not only recognize all the entrepreneurs and small business owners out there, but also to impart some advice. We hope all small businesses continue to flourish, so here’s how to ‘dream big, start small.’
Cut Capital Costs in the Cloud
A common challenge for small businesses is not having access to capital, which inhibits growth. They say you have to spend money to make money, but if you’re a small business chances are you have a small budget so you have to spend wisely and maximize every little investment. Advertising is a necessary cost (you need to attract customers!), staffing is a necessary cost (you need employees to help you!), and so is communication technology (customers need to be able to call you!)
While advertising and staffing are typically considered operational costs of doing business, many small business owners tend to not think of technology as an operational cost when it very well can be…with the right technology. When you think technology you typically think, ‘investment’, which means, ‘capital –intensive.’ But the days of having to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on equipment such as servers and phone systems are long gone. Now you can rent things like email and business phone services without spending capital on new equipment—all you pay is a small monthly cost. That’s much more budget-friendly than shelling out a huge sum upfront and it leaves more money to invest in revenue-growth initiatives. Here are other ways your small business can reap the benefits of cloud technology in 2015.
Know When to Become an Entrepreneur
If you’re considering opening a business, do some research first. By research, I don’t just mean market research, I mean some soul-searching. Owning your own business can be very rewarding but it’s also a lot of hard work. Think you have what it takes? Do you have these 5 character traits commonly found in successful entrepreneurs?
Be Marketing-Savvy…on a Budget
A lot of entrepreneurs don’t anticipate the big budget that is required for many traditional methods of advertising. That being said, you could easily cut corners — which is important in the beginning stages — by making use of social media marketing. A lot of businesses do very well for themselves just through the use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube. Posting pictures of products, video commercials, information on deals, and shareable content is a great way to spread the word…for free! Some phone systems are all-inclusive packages that even give you a free toll-free number and monthly service. This is a great way to track advertising campaigns to see which efforts result in the greatest ROI.
Learn from Your Mistakes
If you learn nothing else from Silicon Valley startups, learn that it’s okay to fail. The “fail fast, fail often” mantra is ingrained in tech startup culture. Take the now global FailCon conference series for example. You certainly don’t want to strive for failure, so what does this mindset really mean? It means that all businesses fail at one point in time, whether it’s a new product that fails or a new partnership that doesn’t quite click. The lesson to be learned here is two-fold. First, you have to be willing to take a chance with a new idea. This goes back to the risk/reward ratio you learned in Finance class. Always playing it safe by sticking with the status quo will never afford you the opportunity to hit it big. Secondly, what you learn from your mistakes is invaluable and often leads to better ideas. The most successful entrepreneurs will tell you they failed multiple times before getting it right. Here are 4 other reasons why every business should think like a startup.
Look to the Future
We believe the children are the future, and whether or not we like it, they’re growing up…fast. Before you know it, millenials will be joining the workforce, and the SBA is smart to embrace them. Instead of shunning away from all the kids’ new-fangled technology, embrace it. Use it. Try it. The best part about kids is they bring no preconceived notions to the table. They haven’t been conditioned for years that certain things aren’t possible. For them, possibilities are endless and it’s just a matter of how to do it, not if it can be done. That being said, you shouldn’t launch a new product or service just because you can. But what you should do is look to the future for inspiration; see what’s coming two, five, and even ten years down the road. The multiplying effect of first-mover advantage cannot be underestimated. Be innovative, be creative, but most importantly, be first. Find the problem that nobody else is solving, and figure out how best to solve it.
To all the small businesses out there, here’s to you. We thank you for upholding the entrepreneurial spirit, inspiring us, providing jobs, sharing your talents, and supporting your local communities. In turn, we’ll do our part to support you and ensure that you maintain constant connectivity with your customers, employees and partners.