"If everyone helps to hold up the sky, then one person does not become tired." 15 Askhari Johnson Hodari, Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs
Micro business owners or solopreneurs, tend to think outside of the box when it comes to making decisions about what services to provide, how to market the company, and so on. This can be a very good thing and in some cases may allow the utilization of excellent ideas without the otherwise required approval of others. This creates high levels of customer value and return for time spent. Unfortunately, it can also lead to feelings of isolation because there are not peers to network, share ideas, and pool resources with. This is where the idea of creating a think tank geared towards individuals who run micro sized buzinesses comes in. We are going to attempt to create such an organization in our area and market it to home based businesses, solopreneurs, and small partnerships with the hopes of being able to do the following;
1. Free source ideas about all aspects of how to improve our businesses
2. Pool resources for purchasing marketing, advertising, and even cost of goods in some cases
3. Develop a presence from a local, political standpoint
4. Set up a barter/trade system among ourselves
As stated previously, solopreneurs tend to be creative in the decisions they make for their companies. Once this way of thought is established, it tends to feed upon itself and the ideas tend to flow at a fairly constant stream. However, it would be extremely vain to think that the only quality ideas that can benefit an organization are it's own. If two minds thinking creatively are better than one, what about five or ten? We envision get togethers where everyone involved is freely giving and receiving ideas from everyone else. Each member can take what they need from the brainstorming and leave what they don't on the table. When ideas are implemented, we can work with those who have previously used them in their own companies and have them help and answer questions along the way. We can follow up with each other at later meetings and discuss what was successful for each different type of business, what didn't work well, and look at the reasons why. We see this as an opportunity for growth within each organization that would not be possible without multiple people being involved.
Just as two minds are better than one, two dollars are most definitely better than one! This holds especially true for small businesses that have little or no marketing and advertising budgets. Another benefit of having a network of such businesses working together would be the ability to share these costs and get more bang for each buck. Often times advertisers and media companies will reduce the cost of ads, commercials, and marketing materials if the amount of products purchased is increased. Likewise if two companies can share the cost of ordering goods, money could be saved in terms of freight reductions and bulk pricing. For example, one company may use deep cycle batteries for motorized wheelchairs and scooters and another company may install stand alone solar systems which require the same type of batteries for building battery banks. If the two combine their purchasing power, they may both get a better deal than each going at it alone with smaller individual purchases.
One of the challenges that face extremely small businesses is being recognized for their value by local politicians. This is especially true of businesses that are location independent or don't have an actual brick and mortar location. By presenting a more united front as a group of entrepreneurs as opposed to individual ones, it may be possible to have more of an input on measures that can affect micro businesses both positively and negatively. Additionally, there may be more of an opportunity to educate local government on the value to the public of the services that are provided.
With small budgets and little or no staff, the ability to get needed services and goods can be a problem for the micro business owner. Having a group of these businesses working together can help alleviate this issue by using a barter and trade system among themselves. This is also a chance to showcase the quality of what you do and have others within your network spread the word about you knowing first hand that they are supporting a good product or service.
The benefits of having like minded individuals to share ideas, split expenses, trade services, and go to bat politically with are nearly endless. Hopefully this article will inspire other micro business owners to give some thought to developing similiar networks of their own. Like Bob Marley said, " One love, one heart, lets get together and feel alright". Not sure that the rasta man was talking business, but the idea is the same!