One thing I’ve loved most about starting this business has been the spirit of collaboration and support in the small business community. One might suggest that it’s something good that has come out of the pandemic, but I think it has more to do with the mindset of small business owners.
I used to work for big corporations. It was reassuring to know you had the credibility of a big corporation backing you up when you called other businesses about partnerships. And yes, not gonna lie, you also held a measure of power when a much smaller business called you about working together, and you were cocky enough to say “no thank you”, which was code for “you’re too small and insignificant”. In big business, you are protecting yourself (your bonus), and shareholder value.
But when you run your own small business, you realize you succeed more when you can help others succeed. Starting out for me, the tables were turned: I was the little guy with nothing (not even a website yet) calling on someone already established to be a supplier. Coming from a big corporation mindset, I was honestly a little blown away by the response I got. They were excited, supportive and actually offered to do whatever they could to help me get off the ground (for example, reducing minimums, offering free shipping on the first order, etc.). These were small producers who were dealing with their own struggles to stay relevant and alive during very difficult economic times, and they wanted to support me. I felt immense gratitude, because those actions made me feel more confident about moving forward (when you’re just starting out, you second-guess yourself every minute).
Small businesses see opportunity everywhere. The suppliers I work with are creative, energetic, collaborative and passionate. Some have put everything on the line to start their business – they are too small to fail. We are all learning together. Not everything we do will be successful, but we learn and forge ahead.
On a closing note, if you have a friend who is running a new small business, I want to share this with you. I think if you ask any small business owner, they’ll tell you one of the awkward things to deal with is how to ask your friends for support. Know this: we’re not expecting you to drop everything and make a purchase the minute we tell you about our new business! In the age of social proof, we appreciate and value actions that don’t cost you a cent. Our goal is to get the word out – awareness is everything.