Monday, September 23, 2013

Don't Be Ashamed of Asking for Help as a Startup

Is your city struggling to survive? It might not be the next Detroit, but a number of metropolitan areas like Oakland, California, are having a hard time, still leaking funds and people through the bullet holes left over from the machine gun fired by the recession. According to Jack Dorsey, a founder of the social media giant Twitter, small business may be what saves these cities. Another company he founded has been sponsoring a series on local entrepreneurship called "Let's Talk" and it recently visited the largest city to ever declare bankruptcy: the Motor City.

It's hip to be Square | Photo courtesy of Square
There, the conversation turned to several local business owners who use Square, a device that allows owners to accept credit card payments on their tablets and smartphones. This has given many companies a convenient way to facilitate operations, allowing them to grow much easier. Speaking of growing, one of the women spotlighted on the panel at "Let's Talk" owns several cupcake shops in downtown Detroit. Her sales have grown from when she opened her first shop--called Just Baked--in 2009 to more than $3 million as of late, making her one of the most successful female business owners in the nation. Interestingly, all of the other panel participants were women as well. One of them owns a boutique, another runs a letterpress studio, and the last makes jam. Each of them have taken a chance at doing what they love and have been successful so far. Though they are all successful now--partially due to innovative devices geared toward small businesses--they have all probably been through their fair share of failures. Successful entrepreneurs do not let failure scare them from chasing success--they use it as a learning experience and move forward with their new knowledge, instead.

Back to that founder from Twitter, though: Dorsey was also in attendance at another small business conference called Techonomy Detroit on the same day, as was Rick Snyder, the governor of Michigan and former head of computer hardware company Gateway; Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans; and Chad Dickerson, the CEO of Etsy. These goliaths of business were talking about startup boosters and how they could contribute to the recovery of a city that is known throughout the country as troubled. Their goals include bringing the style of entrepreneurship seen in Silicon Valley to the Motor City. Gilbert is already doing this, using his venture fund to contribute to the furthering of several startups located in the downtown area.

The moral of the story is that if your business is struggling, you should seek out assistance from other entrepreneurs and organizations that focus on bringing small businesses out of the home and into the neighborhood. Getting that little boost could be what you need to keep your operations flowing and growing for years to come. Who knows? If someone who sells cupcakes can cross the $3-million threshold, you too could have a chance at denting whatever market - green transportation, family portraiture, office furniture - you are considering.

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