Raising a Small Business

Raising a Small BusinessI remember hearing often throughout the years that it takes a tribe to raise a child.  It has been a long time since I have heard that but I do believe it is true to some degree today.  I have four children.  My wife and I are not the only disciplinarians, coaches, teachers, nutritionists and schedulers.  We rely on family to contribute to our children’s upbringing.  Sometimes our children are with friends, neighbors or teachers who we also rely on to build a solid foundation for our children to become productive members of society.

Well shouldn’t the same hold true for a small business?  Isn’t it time that we support the economy ourselves and stop relying on the government?  Shouldn’t we stop assuming that just because someone has a store front and a website they are OK financially?  Aren’t all small businesses in need of some type of help?

It Never Ends

I have been running a small business in some shape or form for over 8 years.  Before that I worked for small business owners who often could only afford to pay minimum wage with no benefits.  Last year over 3 million people lost their jobs because of small business failures and closings.   I can tell you from my own experiences that it is not easy running a small business on your own.  Here’s a list of just some of the things I have had to do while running these businesses.  One was an IT Support company which I had for about 7 years, the other is this one which is a little over a year old.

  • Marketing/Advertising
  • Bookkeeping
  • Taxes
  • Answering the phone
  • Accounts Payable/Receivable
  • Hiring contractors
  • Making sure contractors signed all paperwork including NDA
  • Paying contractors
  • Networking
  • LLC Paperwork
  • Ordering
  • Develop Website
  • Maintain Vendor Relationships
  • Maintain Client Relationships
  • Vehicle Maintenance

I am sure I am forgetting some things.  If you have employees there is quite a bit more to deal with.  I purposely hired contractors with the IT company to avoid the extra work of hiring employees.  That’s a lot of work, and that does not include actually doing what the business is supposed to be doing, like writing this blog post or managing a clients inbound marketing.

What’s a small business to do?

In my area I have networked with a lot of small business owners, even some of my competitors, over the last year.  One thing I learned while running the IT business is face to face networking is almost essential to your small business survival.  What networking has done for me (besides grow my client list) is allowed me a resource to bounce my small business problems off of other owners/managers.  In turn I can help with problems they might be having.

Small Business NetworkingGet on Meetup and Facebook.  You will find tons of networking groups, some specialized in areas where you might need the most help.  Join a chamber or BNI group.  Both are great resources for meeting different business owners who specialize in accounting, taxes, legal, HR, insurance and so much more.  Many business owners are more than willing to give free advice to other business owners.  I know I do it all the time.  Heck I do it on this site and on social media.

Just today I attended a relationship building group in New Haven called Our Breakfast Club.  After the meeting another attendee asked questions about uploading video to their website.  We tried to work through solutions but were not immediately able to find one.  I did however tell her I would look into it further.

Isn’t that every small business owners responsibility?  Shouldn’t we all be accountable for our peers success?  All too often small business owners are worried about their competition taking business away from them, but I am not aware of any business category that doesn’t have enough potential clients to go around.  The truth is small businesses make up over 99% of all employer firms.  That’s a large number!  If we truly want the US economy to turn around for good then we need to support each other.

Why Am I Bringing This Up Now?

Today I had an argument of sorts on Twitter.  Another small business owner who is doing quite well took it personally when I tweeted shame on small business owners who don’t support other small businesses.  It’s part of a campaign I am currently running for another business.  We went back and forth for a few tweets before he decided to just block me.  It seems if you don’t agree completely with some people then they don’t want to acknowledge you.  Either way the point I was trying to make was that we owe to each other, and ourselves to pay it forward.  I do help other small businesses out with advice, by purchasing from them rather than the corporate giants, by telling others about their business.  I am a raving fan of some area small businesses.

Small Businesses Can Get Along Like Cats & Dogs CanIt’s obvious to me that I struck a nerve with this gentleman.  And to be painfully honest he kind of pissed me off.  Don’t get me wrong, I kept it professional.  I do have a knack for calling you an ass professionally.  I learned this from all my years in the corporate world.  I do believe the small business community is responsible for helping each other out, just as I believe we are all responsible for paying it forward every chance we get by helping others who need help.

It is time that we stop taking food out of each other’s mouth and step up to help other small business owners.  I have always had a soft spot for small businesses, solopreneurs and self employed.  It’s hard work to be on your own but we don’t have to be on our own.  Stop being selfish and start working with other business owners.

To the business owners who don’t get out to network..I would strongly encourage you to do so.  We can’t help you if you’re not there.

What do you think?  Was I wrong using a tweet that was somewhat confrontational?  Am I wrong about small businesses supporting each other?  I would love to hear your comments.

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