I recently contracted someone for a job I needed done at my business. He said he could either charge by the hour or the job. He gave me his hourly rates for himself and his employees (he would be bringing 1 or 2 additional people.) I asked what the rate would be as a whole package and he gave me that rate plus this way I’d have to pay for the additional materials myself at cost. I tried to quickly calculate the best bang for my buck and wondered again if it was worth just doing it myself. However, I quickly realized it would take me until about 2019 to finish the job which is why I called upon a professional in the first place. I chose the later option. He called in two people to help with the job and five hours and some materials later the job was finished. It was finished above and beyond my expectations. He did much more work than we had agreed upon to make the the outcome look even better than I’d expected.
I set down with his invoice to pay the bill and ran some calculations. I quickly realized I got a really, really great deal. I punched some numbers in my calculator and it was then I had a moment. It was that moment when I was really glad I got a good deal because I’m all about trying to save money BUT it was also that moment when all I wanted to do was pull this guy in my office and ask him what he is thinking. I just wanted to tell him that he is undervaluing his business. I wanted to explain to him that he needs to figure out how to make his business work and grow because small, local businesses are important. I wanted to tell him that his rapid firing off a quote for me made him devalue his worth. I wanted to make him understand that his skills, experience, expertise, and his time are worth something and worth far more than what he is charging. It was that moment it occurred to me that I just might be a ScaleUp alumni.
ScaleUp America is a program that is part of the US Small Business Administration (SBA) that has been designed to help small businesses “scale up” and grow so that they will have a greater impact in the local community. A healthy business provides more jobs and has a greater economic impact not only locally but that can scale up nationally as well. The SBA promotes that a key emphasis of the program is building and strengthening entrepreneurial networks within the community where the program takes place. As one business grows so do the others.
The networking I found with the other ScaleUp businesses was beyond valuable to me. Sometimes finding the right business to do business with is the hardest part of the task. I’m an advocate for shopping small and local but I also want quality and someone with good customer service. Having completed ScaleUp myself, I knew that if a business owner also went through the program they valued their business enough to want it to grow and succeed and if they valued their business they would be presenting me the best product.
I went into ScaleUp knowing I was having some issues with growing my business and feeling stuck as to what the next step would, could, or should be. Having the round table discussions with other community business owners let me know I wasn’t alone in my feelings and made the task of growth seem much more realistic. The program also brought in several guest speakers which really helped to give me a new perspective on things and many new ideas I just hadn’t thought of by myself.
Even the round table discussions that don’t seem to have a current relevance at the time will have value down the road. One such discussion for me was the evening regarding the hiring and interview process. I enjoyed listening to what the others had to say and made notes about several of the points they made that I had never thought to even think about before. I was also thinking I was really glad none of these things actually applied to me but the discussion was good. But, life happens and two days later my longest employee came to me and let me know that they had to leave employment with me for some very unexpected reasons. It was immediately time to begin the interview and hiring process and use what had been brought to my mind to write down some useful interview questions to find someone to fit my business culture.
I have certainly walked away from the program with a renewed outlook on moving forward with multiple strategies to make growth happen while still keeping a firm grasp on the day to day operations and expenses that go along with business ownership. ScaleUp gives you, as a business owner, a set of “fresh eyes” when thinking about the realities of owning a business. I would recommend applying to participate for any business that meets the criteria.
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