Every good business owner has a story to tell and advice to give. As such, greenCOW Coworking and FUSE Business Training decided to come together to host the Small Business Success Seminar, a quarterly event where business owners from around the region can share their stories and help their fellow entrepreneurs grow. For the July 2018 Seminar, FUSE and greenCOW brought in six speakers to present for those in attendance.
The first presentation, “Relationship Advice for Your Business,” came courtesy of Isaac Carr from CCSK Law. He emphasized the importance of understanding the inner workings of business organizations, stressing the difference between just going into business and becoming a business entity. He went over different types of businesses, such LLCs (limited liability companies), C-Corps., S-Corps., and 501(c)(3) Nonprofits.
He also argued that good business relationships are much like good personal relationships: they require communication, clear expectations, honesty, accountability, and trust. Furthermore, certain types of romantic relationships have clear analogues in the business world: independent contractors operate like open relationships, where the parties involved work together, but there’s no illusion of permanence, whereas a joint venture is like getting engaged, with a contract in place implying exclusivity.
Some might find these comparisons a stretch, but too many people put an emotional distance between themselves and their business. They see it as just a job, but our work defines who we are, so an entrepreneur cannot afford to have that kind of emotional distance towards their company.
Monique Horb of Organizing Your Chaos gave the second presentation, “Life Is Easier Organized.” Time management is a greatly underappreciated skill in both personal life and the business world. Plenty of people track their budget, but time is our most valuable resource. Monique recommends that all business owners keep a schedule, blocking out everything they plan on doing over the course of a week. Not just work time, but also time to eat, sleep, and spend time with friends and family. Plan out the events that always happen at specific times, then figure out how to fit everything you need to do within the remaining time. But don’t feel the need to fill in every blank space on your calendar. You need time to unwind.
Monique also recommends using what she calls the Sunday Basket. Every Sunday afternoon she gathers everything from her desk, the various notes and documents that clutter up her workspace, then sorts through them to decide what needs to be done over the next week. If something isn’t important enough that it must be done in the next week, it goes into a small basket near her desk. This way she can focus on more immediate concerns, and also knows where most of her important paperwork is. It is a way to make your work more manageable and organize your chaos.
Matthew Deulley of CCSK Law was a last-minute addition to the event, but he had an entertaining and insightful presentation on how people tend to view success. In his view, society tells us that there’s always a clear path to success and that the steps to get there are immediately obvious. You get good grades in school, you go to college, you get a degree, you find a job, you listen to performance reviews, you get a promotion, etc. The message is clear: there’s always a “Next Level” to pursue.
But sometimes there isn’t a clear path to follow, and in entrepreneurship, there’s rarely a clear point of reference for success. This can be disheartening when business isn’t going well, but Matt had something to say for anyone feeling uncertain about their business plans: “You are a Superhero!” And for him, what defines a superhero is purpose. If you can find your purpose, it can sustain you even in the most difficult of times. Matt advocates for Simon Sinek‘s method called WHY Discovery, in which people assess what their values are, then ties them into their personal goals. Not only does this method help people better understand themselves, it helps them connect their personal values with their work.
After a short lunch, the group came back together to listen to SaDon Long, owner of SaDon Long Solutions and author of the Amazon best-seller God Wants You To Dominate. In his presentation “5 Steps To Capturing Your Core Audience,” SaDon argues that the reason so many businesses fail is that they don’t understand how to effectively sell to their audience. Customers are the most important part of any business, and the key to finding your audience is to understand what business you are in and who your business is for.
For instance, McDonald’s isn’t in the “food business,” they’re in the “get your food and get where you need to be on time” business. This might just seem like semantics, but it affects who you are appealing to and how you promote your business. SaDon claims that business is just a system where you solve people’s problems in exchange for money. So you need to know what your audience’s real problems are, not just because it helps guide your business decisions, but because empathy builds customer loyalty.
The important thing to remember is that the customer comes first. SaDon feels that too many businesses ask people to support them without considering their customer’s needs. If you don’t know where your customers are or what they want, how can you help them? And if you can’t take them from pain to prosperity, why should they buy from you? Obviously, a business owner has a personal stake in the matter, but you can’t build a successful business around your ego.
Nick Kutschke from Gydepro tied good business practices with healthy living in “How Your Health Affects Your Bottom-Line.” Nick feels that busy entrepreneurs often ignore their health in pursuit of business success. But this comes back to cost them through lost time and money.
However, with so many unsustainable fad diets floating around, it can be hard to choose one that works. Nick suggests building a personalized diet around five major priorities:
- Calories (how much you eat and how much you burn)
- Macronutrients (fats, carbs, protein, fiber, and water)
- Micronutrients: (vitamins and minerals)
- Nutritional Timing (taking in enough energy to do the work you need to do)
- Supplements (additional dietary needs)
Once you have a diet that works for you, try tracking your progress through applications like MyFitnessPal and IIFYM. After all, keeping track of your health is every bit as important as keeping track of your budget. Investing in health and fitness is beneficial both on a personal and company-wide level. As Nicks puts it, “The numbers don’t lie. Invest in your health and your employees’ health.”
To cap off the event, FUSE Business Training’s owner Barbara Caine went over “How to Use Hashtags to Grow Your Audience and Your Business.” Less tech-savvy entrepreneurs underestimate the value of using hashtags, but just including 2-3 relevant hashtags in a social media post can greatly improve consumer engagement and build your audience. Just like how a good online business should have a Keyword Bank for the sake of SEO, they should also have a Hashtag Bank to use when relevant. Barbara recommended coming with a list of at least 50 hashtags! Most of the audience seemed a bit intimidated by the idea of coming up with 50 hashtags, nearly everyone in attendance hit that goal by the end of the presentation and many surpassed it.
Barbara also pointed out that hashtags can serve two different purposes. You can include hashtags in your posts in order to build brand awareness or appeal to certain audiences, but you can also search certain hashtags to look for ideal customers. Nick might include hashtags like #HealthyLiving or #HealthAdvice to appeal to customers who are already interested in health and fitness but might search for people using hashtags like #SoTiredOfBeingSoTired because these are the kind of people that could use his help. The takeaway here is you need to understand who your audience is and how to find them.
In the end, the Small Business Success Seminar was a fun and informative day that allowed entrepreneurs to grow their social networks and learn from one another. There has already been a good deal of buzz surrounding who might be in attendance for next quarter’s seminar, and FUSE is always looking to spread the word about inspiring business owners. So if you’re a local entrepreneur with a story to tell, contact Barbara Caine at FUSE Business Training.