Small business doesn’t mean small work.
In fact, owning a small business is a large responsibility. It requires BIG hours. From building a solid team to optimizing a digital audience, there’s so much that must be done to keep your doors open. So, for small business week, we popped up in Brooklyn to celebrate with DELL and local business owners. Our CEO, Jaclyn Johnson joined some amazing founders and CEOs to get their take on launching a small business and best practices for building a team.
One major takeaway? Tech is key. “There’s no way around it,” explained Johnson. “You need tech that works for you-- not against you. When you’re a small business owner, every single moment counts. Having tools, like those offered by DELL, that provide manageability and reliability is key. Let’s be real, you can’t do business if your computer won’t stop crashing.”
So we crashed the convos. Where small business owners broke down some of their best tips, tricks, and takeaways from the best in small biz.
Name: Rachel Tipograph
Title: Founder and CEO MikMak.
On operating profitably
“I think that innovation often comes from moments of struggle. When you strip yourself of every possible resource, that’s when you’re actually the most creative. If you think about today, it’s actually the cheapest day to get a business off the ground. My example is if you want to launch a skincare brand right now, this is the easiest way you could do it right now. Go onto Alibaba, buy some face wipes, make yourself a logo in your apartment in Williamsburg, print your logos, put them on your Alibaba packages, set up a Shopify and buy yourself some Facebook ads. You’re now the founder of a skincare brand. Everything that I just said, maybe all in it’s upwards of a thousand dollars total plus your time. There’s no excuse today to say that you need a lot of money to get your business off the ground.”
On knowing when to pivot
“I think the press has turn the word pivot into a bad word. Pivot was the best decision I made for my business. Pivot means, that initial idea you had for your business is actually not what’s going to get you to the win. So, now you take all the data points and move them towards the idea that is going to get you towards that win. For example, when I launched MikMak in 2015 we were an IOS app and I operated a store with comedians releasing mini-infomercials. A year into that business model I realized, this made no sense. The only way I could become profit was if I had the scale of eBay. There was no way I could gain the scale of eBay. It wasn’t an option for me. But I had so many paying customers and I was working with the biggest brands in the world. They wanted to license my software. I went on an R&D quest and identified the pain points that were holding people back from starting this business model. Once I did that, I knew what type of software I had to build. I spent the next 9 months building software. I restructured our business model and relaunched the company as an enterprise software platform and the company took off. That’s called a pivot. It was the best business decision I ever made because now the company is in a phenomenal place. If I had felt so strongly about my original business idea, Mikmak would probably not be in the place that it's in today.”
Name: Nina Faulhaber
Title: Co-founder of ADAY
Building a mission-driven brand in the digital age
“Our mission kind of developed a lot later after we actually started the business. It’s important to remember that businesses can evolve and change. We’ve changed so much since we started. We originally launched the business to solve a personal problem and then over time since we’ve launched people continued coming to us saying thank you for solving their problems. So doing that and changing the perception of clothing has really become our mission. The exciting thing for any entrepreneur is knowing that we’re creating something for the future.”
Name: Marie Forleo
Title: Founder of Marie Forleo TV and B-School
The #1 mistake small business owners make
Mistake 1: Building your business on rented land (social!)
“So when I was first starting my business social didn’t exist. I was mainly focused on email. I hear many business owners who completely forget about email and focus only on social. That’s a huge mistake. If you look at the stats that’s not a smart thing to do. Campaign Montier did some research and if you look at the stats for every $1 invested in email there’s a potential to make $45. There are more stats that show that email has a potential to generate 120% ROI over social, direct mail and Google paid ads. It’s a huge platform to pay attention to.”
Name: Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton
Title: Founder & CEO of Chillhouse
Building a one of a kind brand in a crowded marketplace
“I was so involved in building the brand, it’s mostly me creating it. Inspiration starts with a Pinterest board for me. As soon as I have an idea that’s the first place I go. I started building out my dream space through Pinterest with these different mood boards and then worked with a designer to bring it to life. The branding process was really fun. It was a real hands-on experience and my favorite part of the process.”
On content creation and media publishing
“We’re all publishers, even on our personal platforms unless you’re private. Content creation is a very crowded space and it’s really hard to get eyeballs on a website for content. So, if you’re not doing it right, don’t do it. For us, we wouldn’t have launched an editorial site if weren’t thinking of launching an online shop. Creating content for the products that we’ll be selling is our strategy.”
In addition to these powerhouse Small Biz tips, Dell had Small Biz Tech Advisors on hand to advise entrepreneurs about their company’s tech needs. These sessions are also available for free to any small business through Dell’s tech advisor program. You can find out more or get your own tech advisor at www.dell.com/smallbusinesspartner.
Do you own a small business and have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments!