British entrepreneur James Caan said it best, “Nothing will replace the thrill of creating a profitable company from scratch.”
From being the master of your own destiny, to being your own boss, to having an impact on your community, to watching what you’ve built become grown, entrepreneurs and small business owners have feelings like none other in the professional world.
With positives come negatives as being a small business owner isn’t always a bed of roses. There’s the financial risk. There are unknown variables and threats. There’s the stress. The constant demand on your time.
“Finding life balance would be my biggest challenge,” said Debra Fugate, realtor for Ramsey Yeatts and Associates. “I always want to be available for my clients and for my family. Realtors do not work traditional business days and hours, so finding that life balance is a work in progress.”
Perform a quick Google search and you’ll find many websites that list serving their communities they live in as being one of the greatest joys of being a small business owner.
It’s a sentiment that rings true for Fugate.
“I absolutely love helping my clients in whatever part of the journey they are in, buying or selling,” Fugate said. “I always pray I have made a difference and made the process easier for them. Whether searching for their home or assisting them in their sale, it is satisfying knowing I have assisted them in one of the biggest decisions they make.”
For Olivia Richardson, marketing director at The Gingerbread House, her job has helped her get in touch with her adopted hometown.
“On the professional side, working at The Gingerbread House means you get to know your neighbors well because everybody knows somebody who knows everybody, so you get a feel for the heartbeat of Danville quickly.”
She’s also learned a little more about her Southern heritage as well.
“On the personal side, pretty much all of my family is from Danville but growing up in Florida, which I call the North of the South,” Richardson said laughing. “I really didn’t have a sense of where I came from, so working at The Gingerbread House has been an education for me in what it means to be Southern.”
Technology has made the mission a lot easier for small business owners. Email has made communication more direct and efficient and saves time and money by cutting out trips to the post office. While social media has provided small businesses with easy and free exposure.
“Social media and the web are the 2020 ways to shop,” Fugate said. “Home listing sites are the new normal when shopping. Whether social distancing or just checking in to see what’s new on the market, it is easy and convenient day or night from your office or the comfort of your favorite easy chair.”
Richardson sees much of the same.
“As far as social media, that is where we gain new followers and new customers because people are liking and sharing all the time so that really drives new traffic to our business, which is social media’s biggest benefit for us,” Richardson said.
Tony Torres, co-owner of La Nostra Cucina, doesn’t use social media regularly, but he sees its benefits.
“We don’t use it consistently,” Torres said. “However, when we use it, we notice positive results. Every like, share and comment count. Having it is definitely a bonus.”
Perform another Google search and you’ll find the biggest lesson a majority of small business owners have learned is that business and success are ever evolving.
Fugate and Torres have learned that lesson.
“Yes, 2020 is perfect proof of that statement,” Fugate said. “The real estate market has been insane this year but so has the world we live in but we continue to adapt, be creative, stay safe and serve our clients and run our business.”
Torres noted how their business continues to adapt.
“Over the years we’ve gathered different cooking styles and different ways to flavor food, and we’ve incorporated that into our cooking,” Torres said. “The result of that is what we try to convey in our dishes.”
That’s not all Fugate has learned, though. In fact, she has a three-part lesson she could teach on the topic.
“Stay focused,” Fugate said. “My clients are my business and assisting them in reaching their goal is my job. Also, time is a limited commodity. Don’t waste it. Be willing to work hard. Be generous and let your clients know they are the most important part of what you do. Also, you have to invest in your business, education, and community.”
One difficulty Richardson faces in her job is managing a hybrid of traditional and new styles of media. However, the results of the campaigns she has created have taught her a lesson.
“I think we really reach more people in terms of sales through traditional marketing, so our sales are better,” Richardson said. “If we do something online, there’s really no follow through but when we do traditional media, there is some follow through. So, traditional media is the best when we’re having a sale.”
“As far as social media, that is where we gain new followers and new customers because people like and share all the time. Social media drives clients to our business.”
The world of small business is full of sharp turns and the occasional dead-end. But there is a lifetime of rewards waiting for those resilient entrepreneurs who take the ride.