Research done by the UPS Store before the pandemic showed that 70% of small businesses that received mentoring, survived more than five years, doubling the survival rate of non-mentored businesses. The uncertainty of the post-pandemic business landscape is likely to increase the need for solid guidance and mentorship to get small businesses on a path towards recovery. Here are four important steps business owners can take to get the advice they need to keep moving forward:
1. Know Your Pain Points
Most, if not all, small business owners have never lived through a pandemic before, so finding the pain points that need to be addressed now can be challenging. It’s important to take the time to identify the areas that need help now to stabilize the business and determine a clear path forward. This consideration needs to go beyond “I need help fixing my business” and delve into specific areas. Are you having trouble filling vacant positions? Are you having issues with your supply chain? Clearly understanding the issues at hand is crucial to knowing what’s needed and where to potentially go for advice.
2. Identify Your Priorities
Identifying the issues is a key first step, but it’s also important to understand in what order they need to be tackled. If supply chain issues mean necessary products aren’t available, it may be necessary to tackle that before considering the effectiveness of a marketing campaign. By prioritizing your issues appropriately, the guidance you receive can be that much more effective.
3. Find The Right Help
Many small business owners have an inner circle they connect with for support, but finding specialized guidance can be tough. Use your knowledge of the issues to identify potential experts that can help solve these specific problems. Hiring issues can benefit from a recruiter or human resources consultant’s perspective, while a vendor or another business owner in a related field can provide insight on circumventing supply chain issues. Also, check out the SBA and tap local networks of business owners and partners to find organizations and professionals best suited to help you fix your problems.
4. Ask The Right Questions
It’s important to remember that the insights of an advisor are often only as good as the questions they are asked. You’ve taken the time to identify them and the issues you would like them to solve, so it’s important to get the most out of the relationship. This is where identifying issues as specifically as possible becomes critical, as these can help shape the questions you ask and the insights you receive. As you build a relationship with your advisor, it’s also important to keep them appraised of how you did or didn’t apply it. An advisory relationship is a two-way street and maintaining this level of communication can help deepen the relationship and potentially improve the quality of insights shared.
The pandemic has changed small businesses’ operating models and small business owners’ perspectives, but it hasn’t changed their grit and resiliency. With COVID restrictions lifting and the economy opening back up, now is a great time for these owners can take a breath, regroup, and start to lean into a sound support model to get ready for what’s next. A guide to help with important decisions can go beyond gathering insights and help, and provide owners with a peace of mind that they are ready for any challenge ahead.
Originally published in the TXCPA Houston's Online Magazine called the Forum. Read the full magazine here.
Ashli White is currently the Business Acquisition Manager for the Texas and New Mexico Small Business Segment at Wells Fargo Bank. Ashli and her team focus on serving the community, and helping small business customers succeed financially. She has served in the financial industry since 2007. Prior to banking Ashli was the President and Directing Manager of a local Houston marketing firm that she had founded in early 2000.