Here's what having a seat at the table looks like. People coming together to talk shop about small business in Ohio.
I'm humbled to share my experiences as a small business owner, alongside others who are also deep in the trenches. The fact is, starting and running a business is hard work and takes money, patience, strength, courage, support and yes, a good product or service. Much thought, time and money goes into starting a business, let alone sustaining it. As optimistic as I am, I am completely transparent when I tell prospective business owners that its something you better love. A lot.
Inna Kinney, Founder of of ECDI shared that she jokingly asks people wanting to go into business if they really want to do this. The statement wasn’t lost on me or others around that table who’ve worked with small businesses through countless ups and downs. It is hard work and you have to love it to endure the sometimes roller coaster ride it brings.
Administrator Isabella Casellas Guzman of the Small Business Administration referred to small business owners as giants in our community. Funny, I don't feel like a giant, especially these past two years. I've watched all kinds of businesses bite the dust, fold or go bankrupt. And the survivors, well, they are surviving, sometimes by the skin of their teeth or barely by a nail. Even if you're able to keep your doors open, you need good people as staff. That has been a real struggle.
I'm fortunate to have had jobs which afforded me the opportunity to learn new skills, especially tech skills (all those software programs) which have served me well. Navigating the web, researching information (which seemingly changes daily), understanding the nuances and niches of business and consistently posting content on my website and social media alone is a full-time job.
Every day I sit down at my computer or pull out my phone, I'm grateful that I learned to type in high school. Learned on a manual typewriter, then progressed to a Selectric and then to an office computer. Took to typing like a fish to water. Worked as an office temporary secretary in high school and college to hone my skills, working in typing pools with a Dictaphone headset transcribing letters for business. Typing with carbon paper and Wite-out; I learned to be an excellent typist just so that I wouldn’t have to correct all those copies. Wow! Seems so long ago.
So much of what I've accumulated in knowledge and experience has kept me employed. It's also helped to remain curious and wanting to learn more.
Listening to some of the challenges people face right here in Ohio regarding starting a business center around digital access in their communities and availability of hardware made me sad. We saw this during the pandemic when people who may have used their public libraries for internet access were closed. Agencies and community groups rallied together to make access available, often cobbling together resources to help their patrons. Not a perfect solution, but it did help some.
Pat Bennett of Pat’s Granola and Aminata Soto, Director of the Women's Business Center, Columbus OH