Team consulting pays big dividends for small businesses
We’ve all heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In many ways, it takes a team approach to raise small businesses as well.
The Alexandria Small Business Development Center has assembled a strong team of staff and other experts to support small businesses. Many of the city’s premier business owners have come to regard the center as something of a business concierge service to turn to when issues arise. These owners value the continuity of a support staff that understands their history and needs while consistently providing great contacts, advice and resources.
The center’s staff is readily accessible when business owners have questions, need information or face problems. The team has been together for most of the center’s 17 years and has more than 50 years of combined experience in small business operations, marketing and finance. They are well versed in city processes and connected to the business community as well as regional resources.
They can clarify confusion, point owners in the right direction, and save frustration and time. Moreover, business owners can be confident that they are getting unbiased advice; the center is not motivated by increasing sales or generating membership, rather by what is in the best interest of each entrepreneur.
Over the years, the center also has developed a comprehensive team of experts that provide specialized feedback or guidance for business owners. These experts have been carefully selected and vetted by the center’s staff not only for their expertise, but also for the way they relate to business owners. The center selects experts that focus on small and medium-sized businesses, are straightforward in their dealings with owners, and — most importantly — have proven to be reliable and achieve results.
These experts include attorneys, accountants, consultants and bankers. They specialize in areas like government contracting, human resources, marketing, social media, website design, and retail and restaurant operations. Center staff encourages business owners to develop relationships of trust with these professionals.
The team-consulting concept also is an important factor in the center’s rapport with city government staff and economic development partners. Building these strong relationships allows the center to connect small businesses with additional team resources, including assistance with permits and help finding a storefront. Bringing together center staff, outside experts, city employees and economic development partners provides a one-stop shop where a business owner can address a variety of business needs.
Ultimately, the team-consulting concept culminates with center staff members introducing businesses to one another for supplier, customer or contracting relationships. When businesses begin teaming with each other, the work of the center is amplified. These networking opportunities create links between businesses that continuously strengthen our small business community.
The writer is the director of the Alexandria Small Business Development Center.