To me, starting at the bottom means that you are, in most cases, underfunded, underprepared but enthusiastic about owning your own business. The type of support a business entrepreneur needs for the first several years has to come from “the trenches”. I define help from the “trenches” as help that is given by someone who has walked the walk and experienced both success and failure in starting and growing a business.
A 100 page business plan is of little use to a person who doesn’t understand its foundation, much less having the time to implement its long term plan.
A new business has to be “mean and lean”; mean because it doesn’t have the luxury of time to embrace every new idea or to spend months or years to learn the textbook version of management and marketing. It’s mean because it has to reject a lot of gifts (suggestions) from well meaning “friends” and has to make quick decisions, often by “gut instinct”.
The lean means it has to survive financially and hopefully learn from wrong decisions. The lean can lead to starvation in the form of desperation, loss of the drive that was responsible for starting the business and bringing it to its current position and a general feeling of “what’s the use”.
We say that the backbone of our country is small business and everywhere you turn there are accolades for small business owners. How much more successful would our country be if the 85% that failed in their business in the first five years, had survived?
There is little support for a struggling business. Banks won’t give you a loan; in fact, they don’t even know that you exist until you bounce a check. There are many promoters whose business is to offer expensive, quick solutions to marketing or some other aspect of operating and growing a small business. They take capital that should be used for other purposes and invite you to sit with other small business owners in a seminar and get you excited about ideal solutions that can quickly grow your business. Reality sets in when you get back to your office; alone and unsure as to what to do next.
Is it any wonder that small business owners lack trust? Where is that genuine offer of help? Many business owners I talk to are afraid of confiding in someone and sharing their needs. Their perception is that everyone wants “a piece of what they have left”.
Building trust is a slow process. One has to keep giving until finally someone accepts the support and learns that it comes from the heart and that it offers real life solutions that can solve immediate problems. No, sometimes a solution is not available and the best support is telling a business that it has to close. On the positive side, some business owners who closed a business are not successfully growing another business and are getting advice from a trusted and proven source.
My blog is an offer of support and it has been accepted by many as a trusted source for small business solutions. One Biz Central (www.onebizcentral.com) is the next evolution. The articles contained in each section and the rest of the support material are written by the small business owners who have both succeeded in business and share their paths as well as lessons learned from those that failed in their first business but now are growing another. I invite you to take the next step for the benefit of your business .
Advice is easy to give but hard to accept….business owner, keep searching until you find a trusted source.
Nick J. Petra CFP www.strategicduck.com