A Little Help From My Friends

William Nozak, MBA 

Do you feel like a bug in a paint bucket?

I was painting the exterior of the hut for the next Harper’s Hut location, I looked down in my paint bucket, and there was a bug. Most people would pick it out and flick it away and that is what I did too. Knowing that the paint would solidify and the bug would die a very unfair death, I got down off the ladder, found the bug, and rinsed it off; giving it another chance at survival. Oftentimes business owners are that little bug in the paint pail. A paint covered bug where a little rinsing off could have drastically changed expected outcomes. Information sharing is the key.

What Guerilla business secrets do your friends know?

How many of your friends run businesses? Guess what, they know something about business that you do not. For instance, the friend that owns the nail salon most likely knows effective customer retention secrets, let us call these guerrilla business secrets. Other friends that work for companies have insights into marketing, best hiring practices, process scripting, documentation, accounting, AKA guerrilla business secrets. If you learn of them, implement them! Many solid entrepreneurs have never dared to learn from these friends and acquaintances. Many of these friends and acquaintances have also never opened the door to you.

The best set up is when you can learn from each other. You are trudging along making a profit and have had no need to improve upon your strengths while minimizing the risk of your weaknesses, when wham, Joe Shmo’s Big Name Brand Store just broke ground in the neighborhood competing directly for the same customers that currently patronize your store. In an instant, you are a bug in a bucket.

Why can we help each other?

You see the bug and I were not competing for the same resources. Whereas in real life two entrepreneurs often do. Even if it and I were, it still would be a humane act on my part to reach into my paint bucket and rinse the bug off. What happened to it next is not my concern. If I am a bug, I am praying other bugs inform me of potential paint bucket hazards.

Where are the mentors?

Here we are, having the most developed communication system on earth, and business owners, not competing for the same resources, neglect to guide, mentor, or assist those that are in the same horizontal plane as them. So too often, good, honest, hardworking business owners are a bug in a bucket because of their business deficiencies, lack of knowledge, experience, and mentorship. Do not get me wrong picking up a book, watching a How To YouTube video, or paying for a college education are solutions that work. However, many future small business owners will not do those three things.

Information Sharing

The adage people perish for the lack of knowledge is in full effect in small business. This leaves us with good ole fashioned information sharing. Be advised, someone will misinterpret your Samaritan act, guidance, or mentorship as teachings of industry specific secrets and will create a business that competes directly with yours. Slap them in the face and look out for your own interest. Sharing horizontally with those that are business owners is lauded; sharing vertically with those that will compete directly with you is risky business. Only you can know when the latter is appropriate.

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