By: Nasutsa Mabwa, President, ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons
As a recent graduate of the 2015 Goldman Sachs’ exclusive “10,000 Small Businesses Financing Initiative,” I have many unique takeaways from my experience. I was fortune to be among fewer than 40 small business CEOs from the Chicagoland area who attended this national training program. The program was a fascinating experience, a real boot camp for small, entrepreneurial businesses. Here are 7 key lessons:
- Learn to work on your business, not in your business. If you are too caught up with day to day tedious details, you will miss the bigger picture and not be a leader. Instead, take a step back, look at the overall picture, and gain greater perspective.
- Think strategically about your marketplace and how to differentiate your business. This means looking beyond today to 5 and 10 year goals, incorporating demographic and population shifts—or any other macro factors that will drive sales or market share.
- Get to know your competition…then get to know them better. Research your competition regularly and track their movement, successes and failures. Learn from their growth and their mistakes. In a revision to a popular saying, keep your friends close and your enemies (the competition) closer.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. Through failure and missteps we learn and grow. Take chances and be willing to try new ideas.
- Remember to follow and stay true to your company’s vision and mission every day. We all can get buried in work and can stray from our focus. Is customer service your mission? Are you focused on expanding in key markets? Communicate your vision and mission clearly and regularly to employees. Ask yourself if the task at hand gets you any closer to your mission and vision. If it doesn’t, make adjustments; if it does, full steam ahead.
- Appreciate and celebrate your employees. They are the backbone of what you do. Employees and clients are similar in that it is far easier and less costly to keep them and allow them to grow than to have to replace them. Appreciate an employee’s spirit and unique skill sets, and work with them to expand and refine them.
- Be creative! Creating and running a successful company is difficult. Establishing a unique and clearly articulated value proposition and executing creative marketing and advertising strategies are things that set you apart from the pack.
Nasutsa Mabwa was named President of Balmoral Interests in 2014 after spending eight years in Chicago’s real estate development and urban planning community. Since joining the firm, which owns ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons, her focus has been on expanding its focus on the commercial and residential side of property restoration and construction.
More than 2,500 U.S. small businesses have completed the Goldman Sachs program to date, along with over 800 companies in the U.K. In total, 10,000 Small Businesses is a $500 million investment by the multinational investment banking firm.