Behind every successful, independent business lies our universal, but often an unheralded, business owner – YOU. We think you are awesome.
Our local businesses are not publicly traded, they’re not sexy like tech or social media, but they each serve a special and distinct purpose. Whether you're a lighting designer, a small furniture manufacturer or toy retailer, we think you're sexy, awesome and super important to our daily lives.
Small businesses add heart, soul and character to communities.
But, in a city that has experienced tremendous growth, rents have sky-rocketed, pushed out the little guy and welcomed big money that can pay massive rent rolls. National retail chains, upscale boutiques, drug stores, fast food chains and banks often replace the ephemeral. Who else can afford the hyper-gentrified rent? We feel that if everything starts looking the same, the city might lose its soul.
No two small businesses are the same, but most face similar challenges.
Each business is unique in its products and services, ownership, vision, location, customer base, business model, and operating cycle. But because they’re usually strapped for resources, business doesn’t come easy. We believe that, to succeed, you must land on your feet like a cat when your world is thrown up in the air. Being organized, prepared, financially savvy and surrounding yourself with great people is key.
Without money, there’s no mission.
Business is about making money, after all. Profit is important; it feeds your business, your life (and lifestyle) and your values. But money isn’t everything. We believe in values-driven businesses. People before profit. Environment before profit. Community before Profit. Take time to think who inspires you, what makes you happy and how you can live out that positivity through your business in a way that is positively you.
Raise your financial I.Q.
Repeat from #4: Business is about making money, especially if you’re enduring sleepless nights, blood, sweat and tears. Yes, marketing and design are important, but those successful business owners with whom we have worked were driven to understand the financials of their business. Being an empowered owner means you take time to learn your financial statements and reach out if you are struggling or have questions. Mastering your financials is one of the most important skills for your long-term success.
Without our customers, we have no business. Period.
It’s good to sell, but we sometimes forget sales start with listening to and learning from our customers. Understand how purchases are made, what motivates your customers, when do they buy, why do they buy, where do they buy? Your best insights will come from talking to your customers and learning from real behavior.
Technology is our friend.
Today’s technology is amazing, and it’s only getting better. And really, you have access to the same tools and technology that big companies have. Use it to your advantage when possible. Technology helps you with your communication, bookkeeping, client relationships, e-commerce, inventory, project management, manufacturing and more.
The 800-Pound Gorilla vs. 800 Gazelles.
We’ve heard the “800-pound gorilla” analogy to describe corporate companies that compete in scope and scale. They have ad power, money and dominate the mainstream. What appears to be their greatest strength (their size) can also be the source of their greatest weakness. Small businesses, on the other hand thrive in the “we economy” much like gazelles do. We thrive in groups and can be agile enough to move strategic direction swiftly. Functioning in the "we economy" means staying connected, reaching out for answers when you need them, collaborating with stakeholders to build your business.
Don’t let the bastards wear you down.
No matter what, life is going to throw its curveballs and slam doors in your face. That does not equate to failure. Keep going, keep trying and keep moving onward and upward! Surround yourself with great people to keep your momentum going and get shit done.
Entrepreneurship should be fun.
One of my favorite blog posts is Entrepreneurshit, from Mark Suster, a serial-entrepreneur-turned-VC. Yes, being in business for yourself is hard work. You'll likely lose some money and maybe even cry... so strap on your seatbelt for the roller coaster ride. But it’s also the most rewarding experience when you continue to have fun, enjoy good relationships with all stakeholders and achieve your dream.