Ask Kermit the frog, he’ll tell you, it’s not that easy being Green. Ask any minority entrepreneur and they’ll say it’s not that easy being small either. As entrepreneurs we are propelled by a vision that comes into our head. We decide to set out and open a path where others stay on the paved road.
It’s scary, exciting, unpredictable at every single –I I do mean every single – step. This is especially true for minority, woman owned businesses which tend to be underfunded.
At a Yelp event last year I met a fellow entrepreneur, she had recently opened beauty salon in downtown Chicago. I told her I’d been in business three years and she quipped “Please tell me it gets easier!” I knew exactly what she meant but could offer no other reassurance than to say “You keep learning and get better and stronger at it”. Because honestly, it doesn’t get easier.
Like her I’ve met so many small business owners who have no shortage of passion, commitment and determination. What runs in small supplies though are resources and a budget for marketing.
A client I recently took on shared her frustration in finding an honest PR person. She had string of transactional proposals where they made unrealistic promises in exchange for X amount of money. Anyone who tells you “Everyone will know you tomorrow” is either a super-genius-ultra-connected guru or snake oil salesmen. Still, many small business owners fall prey to these dubious practices.
And it’s not just the small independent freelancers; the owner of a new grocery store by my house shared his frustration with a large Chicago newspaper who charged him $3,000 to put a flyer of his store in their Sunday bundle. He said, “They took my money and I never heard from them”. He did not see any return on his investment as traffic to his store remained dismal. Now, as a seasoned marketer I know it takes more than just one insertion to move the needle, but did the account executive explain that to this small business owner to whom $3,000 is a lot of money? Probably not.
I’m not hating here but I see firsthand how the dream of entrepreneurship looks down here in the trenches. There’s joy then there’s set-backs but minority owned businesses are on the rise and the truth is small businesses are the engine of our economy. Like I always say, support your small businesses, if you can offer a bit of guidance (lawyers, accountants, marketers) it’s a seed you planted that will grow into something that will benefit our local economy. It’s win-win all the way.