I was recently asked these questions about my experiences on the road…here are my answers!
1. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from connecting with so many business owners on the road?
The things you hear on the news, or on social media, are just not what is going on in the ‘real world’-in the communities and small towns across the nation. People are all so kind and giving. Everyone is helping each other and giving without expecting anything in return. I just spent some time on main street of Somerville, New Jersey. It was Saturday night and the streets were filled with people shopping, dining, walking up and down the streets smiling and laughing, talking to and hugging each other. The ‘real’ people of our country are living their lives, spending time with their friends and families, doing business with each other, and supporting their local businesses. If people would turn off the news and get out of the house and look around, they would see that there are so many positive wonderful people in the world willing to help and support each other!
2. What’s the one thing you hear most about as you talk to small business owners?
Business owners have spent the past year and a half having to make a lot of changes, not only with how they do business…like getting their products and services online, but also how they network. Alignable has become many business owners’ main source of referrals that have come from the many business and personal relationships that have been built, all through interactions found from making new connections, especially in groups and events. They’ve met other business owners, many who have become life-long friends, even though they may not have even met in person yet!
3. What challenges have business owners shared with you? What are they struggling with most?
The biggest challenge I’ve heard across the country from many small business owners is that they are having the most difficulty finding employees. It is quite heartbreaking. One business owner and his wife are now running their restaurant with minimal help 7 days a week. They said that people come in all the time to fill out applications just to keep their unemployment, but they never follow through. Another restaurant has been open 7 days/week for many years, and their only cook has been working 7 days/week. Now they have to close 2 days/week because they’ve been trying for months to find a cook, so they’re forced to close to give their only chef a break. I hear stories like this in every town I visit. Something has to change, or this is going to be (and already has been for some) the demise of many small businesses.
4. What is the general sentiment of business owners right now? What are they optimistic about going into the end of the year?
Business owners across the country are just so happy to be back in business. Yes, there are challenges, but with business, there always are…this time the challenges are just a little different, like the lack of employees. So many relationships have been built online this past year, that they seem to be banding together to support, refer, and do business with each other! All in all, they are staying positive.
5. What advice can you share with other small business owners after meeting with so many of them in person? What should they do right now to set them up for success?
Focus on building relationships first. People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Relationships take time, but the business and personal benefits you receive are priceless! I love hearing the conversations among business owners talking about how Alignable is their trusted platform to find and connect with serious business owners who understand the importance of building relationships. They know that they can find answers to their questions, support and understanding, and people who ‘get’ them, and who they feel comfortable talking to. They also love helping and sharing their own experiences, learnings, and expertise. I always tell people to ‘be the person others want to connect with’. The more you give, the more you get back.