Using All the Resources Available – Build Your Network

Success sogm

Photo (CC) Bruce Berrien, on Flickr

In order to do the best job we can, whether we are in business or are a service provider, the bottom line is we must use every resource available.

For business owners, one such resource are other business owners. This idea formed the basis for the Power of Business effort.

For service providers, such as those of us working for Extension, we have this vast network of each other that we can turn to for help and ideas.

Both of these internal resources are great and I hope you use them. Yet many more resources exist in organizations and businesses outside of our and second circles of connections. The example I will use here is the Farmers Market Federation of NY. 

This organization provides information for customers, farmers, and market managers. I have followed it for a couple of years. No, I am not from NY but what they provide gives me ideas for my work with local food promotion and the growers involved in that effort.

In there August 17th newsletter, they wrote about holding music events during market days. Now that may not be something new to you, but they included a press release used by a market manager, the Facebook event connection, and a photo used.

The article also provided some other resources (I love these type of freebies) including where to find special days and months (National Chicken Month, National Smile Day, etc). This lets you make an event when you might not think nothing exists. They also challenged market managers to make the market the special event of the week.

There may be nothing new here, but outside resources, such as these, can remind us of ideas we may have forgotten and new twists to something we are already doing. 

 

Where are the Entrepreneurs?

Photo (CC) Bruce Berrien, on Flickr

Photo (CC) Bruce Berrien, on Flickr

Thanks to Connie Hancock and Becky Vogt of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln for the idea and background material for this blog post. 

If you have been paying attention to the news over the last year or more, there has been a ongoing discussion of how there is a decreasing number of small business start-ups.  This trend may be seeing some signs of change, but the trend is concerning given how small businesses are the lynch pin in our economic engine. Just think of how many key businesses in your life are small businesses. This is true in urban areas and even more correct as you move to rural areas.

A Gallop study found several reasons for why people are not starting businesses. Forty-nine percent indicated that they didn’t know where to start. Prospective owners also feared that their lack of knowledge in running a business would be a hurdle

Survey respondents, 84%, also indicated that they liked the security of a steady income, and although not shown in this study, other work has shown people shy away from business ownership because of the loss of fringe benefits.

Other indicated that they did not have the savings necessary to start a business. It does take money to get started. And it takes even more money to make it through the lean first years. It is often said that you estimate your cash needs and then you should double or triple that number to get to an amount you actually will need.

And there is another group worried about the odds of success, 49%, and the competition, 28%.

Yet as you examine the list, there is a clear theme that runs through it. None of these items are insurmountable. The skills of being a business owner can be acquired by the owner (plus the owner can also hire needed skills). In terms of business financing, history is full of stories on how businesses have started using very few dollars being very frugal or bootstrapping instead.

Regarding the risk, potential business owners can minimize the risk by careful planning. Admittedly you can’t eliminate the risk. And the odds may be against you, but individuals who have the passion will start. It’s understanding what drives you and then looking for how that drive can fill a niche in the market.

Potential business owners can decrease their risk and eliminate some of their questions about how to start and run a business by accessing the vast variety of resources available to help small business owners. PowerofBusiness is one such effort. We are focused on small, often rural, business owners.

There are also resources such as the Small Business Administration, SCORE, and Small Business Development Centers. Plus most states have some type of program as do many colleges and universities.

As you can see that while there seem to be many hurdles, there are ways of removing them or, at least, minimizing them.

Starting a business can be a scary thing, no doubt. But ask most business owners and they will tell you they are glad they made the decision. Make your plans and then take the leap. As Shia LaBeouf once said, “Don’t let your dreams be dreams.”

Wow, So Much to Know!

Question Mark

Photo (CC) Colin K, on Flickr

Whether you are thinking about a business idea, just starting your business, or you have had a business for some time, it seems like there are always new questions or issues coming up. How can you keep up?

Two common ways that business managers stay up to date are, first, by talking to other business owners. That is one of the reasons for Power of Business. We want to encourage business owners to connect and engage with other business owners. Each of you have some of the answers learned through experience and your own searching for answers.

The second commonly used tool is to find resources that you consider reliable and trustworthy. You have traditional sources such as your local Extension Service office and its online presence found in each state and at eXtension.org.  You also have agencies such as the Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Centers and SCORE. Every state has other sources in addition to these found in one or more of the state agencies.

All of these resources and many others can also be found online. One of the online resources that has seen a dramatic rise in numbers are various bloggers. Again, business owners tend to find their favorite ones, people they feel provide timely, valid and reliable information. They also look for information from people who have “been there and done that” and often recommended by other owners.

When searching for bloggers or other online information providers, you can often find those who are directly in your same industry. For some time, I have followed Small Food Biz. Recent articles such as the look at why small businesses need insurance, http://www.smallfoodbiz.com/2014/07/30/the-importance-of-insurance/, quickly lay out a basic outline of the issue and some real-world reason why it is important. (This author has no relationship to this blog).

Another blogger I follow focuses on small rural business and the communities where they are located, Small Biz Survival. (This author is a guest blogger at this site). Today, you can probably find someone offering information for practically any type of business in any type of location (Just check out our list of interviews with business owners under “Friday 15.”).

The bottom line is that there are resources available to help you get the answers to your questions. And we haven’t even discussed other professionals who also can be of great service.

So when faced with a new situation or question, ask around and go online. Chances are you can find guidance from a number of sources.  However just a note of caution, not all of the information you find is correct or right for you so, again, use your resources to check and verify.

Remember, when you are running a small business, you need not feel alone.