While the world’s largest companies often dominate headlines, small businesses remain the lifeblood of our economy, employing nearly 58 million Americans and making up almost half of the nation’s private sector jobs. With access to data and resources, cost-effective customer engagement tools, and market liquidity, there’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur.
Having helped countless individuals access the capital they needed to build or expand a business, my team knows firsthand that the road to success doesn’t come with a personalized manual. As one of my valued clients—who today co-owns a thriving 40-person Manhattan law firm—recently shared about getting his start, “I didn’t know how to build a website or where to go for office paper, let alone seed money before we had an income stream.”
As we celebrate National Small Business Week, we recognize the millions that serve as the backbone of our communities. And while we constantly see headlines about the “Amazonification” of different industries, there is still a large demand – and economic need – for small businesses. In that spirit, I’m debunking the following myths that can help the next generation of entrepreneurs succeed.
- Myth #1 – A Click is Mightier than a Handshake: From buying movie tickets to insurance policies, we’re all getting accustomed to the exchange of goods and services without face-to-face interaction. While that may be the business model you’re betting on, don’t underestimate the value of personal relationships with partners and vendors. When it comes to advice or decision making, look for local advisers in your market or leaders in your community. Who better than another small business to play that role?
- Myth #2 – Brick-and-Mortar is Dead: In today’s digital marketplace, many may tell you to steer clear of Main Street. Although opening a brick-and-mortar location can be risky, know your customers above all else. While consumers will demand a digital experience, the best app still can’t replace a human touch ; brick-and-mortar locations can still play a complimentary role to your online channels.
- Myth #3 – Advocacy is Only for Big Businesses: When focused on generating leads and making payroll, taking the time to get involved in weighty policy issues can seem daunting. But, whether it’s changes to city permitting rules or federal regulations that unfairly penalize consumers and community banks, public policies can have a huge financial impact. Not only is it worth investing the time to advocate for the issues that affect your business, building relationships with local elected officials, trade associations and industry groups provides valuable connections to new customers and partners while also offering access to insights, best practices and industry trends.
While we can’t anticipate every obstacle, making informed decisions based on your business’s reality rather than conventional wisdom is always prudent. Don’t let misperceptions take you off course; tomorrow’s economy depends on it.