Side Hustle City

Scaling Your Small Business: Expert Strategies and Community Support with Dawn Parks

March 30, 2024 Adam Koehler with Dawn Parks Season 6 Episode 20
Side Hustle City
Scaling Your Small Business: Expert Strategies and Community Support with Dawn Parks
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Unlock the secrets to scaling your small business with expert Dawn Parks from NKU, who joins us on Side Hustle City to share her wealth of knowledge. From the critical shift of managing your business as a professional to the intricacies of financial comprehension, Dawn provides a treasure trove of actionable insights. Prepare to transform the way you tackle accounting, strategic planning, and the crucial transition from working in your business to working on it. Our conversation is a lifeline for those operating on tight margins, guiding you through the hurdles and paving the way for seizing opportunities like loans, sales, or expansion.

Step into the collaborative world of the Biz Access Hub at NKU, where Dawn unveils the support network revolutionizing the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises. Discover how the Business Alliance of Northern Kentucky (BANK) cultivates synergy without overshadowing existing service providers, and learn about the bank of community vendors and the lifetime membership model. It's a peek behind the curtain at how a cohesive ecosystem of coaching, consulting, and resources can empower your business's ascent, with Dawn leading the charge.

As we traverse the entrepreneurial landscape of Northern Kentucky, we spotlight stories of innovation and share wisdom from personal experiences. Dawn and I dissect the transformative power of community support, from turning a food product idea FDA-ready to leveraging blockchain in agriculture. Understand the three pillars crucial for scaling—product, sales and marketing, and administration—and hear how even a gym owner can expand into new markets with the right approach. Get ready to absorb the strategies that will elevate your small business to new heights, as we guide you through the maze of growth and success.

As you're inspired to embark on your side hustle journey after listening to this episode, you might wonder where to start or how to make your vision a reality.  With a team of experienced marketing professionals and a track record of helping clients achieve their dreams, we are ready to assist you in reaching your goals. To find out more, visit www.reversedout.com.

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Speaker 2:

Welcome to Side Hustle City and thanks for joining us. Our goal is to help you connect to real people who found success, turning their side hustle into a main hustle, and we hope you can too. I'm Adam Kaler. I'm joined by Kyle Stevie, my co-host. Let's get started, all right? Welcome back, everybody, to the Side Hustle City podcast. Today we got a special guest from NKU, dawn Parks. How are you doing, dawn? I'm doing great. How are you doing Adam? Doing awesome? Awesome. Dawn is on a mission to help small businesses that don't really fit into the startup ecosystem what we call the startup ecosystem, the high growth technology company startup ecosystem. You focus more on small businesses that are already established, maybe have been in business for years. They just haven't been able to scale. A lot of times they're working on, like we talked about before, maybe tight margins, but they need access to professional help attorneys, growth experts, professional accountants to really clean everything up in their company and help them to grow.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's a lot of the folks that we work with Absolutely Been around for a little bit of time. Maybe they were eligible or took a PPP loan back in the COVID days, so they'd been around. Most of them have been around for a bit. Yeah, because I think of that startup ecosystem. It could be I just have an idea and it could be someone who lost their job and we can find ways to support them. But what are really our target is folks that have been around there.

Speaker 3:

They are in the business, not working on the business, and they're not always ready for succession planning. So it's like three phases. One is I, um, I'm going to figure this out. That's like, okay, I'm going to figure it out, I'm going to do whatever I can, but I'm I'm pretty sure this can't be that hard, I'll figure it out, right. And then the second phase is oh crap, now I've got all this information. What do I do with all this information? I'm going to go to the internet, talk to some people, maybe buy a book, do a seminar, get on YouTube, yeah. And now they have got information that's up over their shoulders and they still don't know what is. Step one and so that's what they usually call us is they've done a lot of homework. They they're. They're in it. Often they're in a crisis mode. If they're not in strategy mode, it's like, oh my God, I paid way too many taxes, I did something wrong, or I've. I've been to the bank and the bank said I didn't show enough profit because my oh my God.

Speaker 3:

My accountant said yes, you know, take all the expenses you can, don't show a profit, and now they can't get a loan. So we work with them to try to support them in whatever what feels like a crisis to them. Or they have all these wonderful ideas and they don't know how to get it down into actionable stuff no idea.

Speaker 3:

We're really very strategy and action oriented, not, you know, we do some coaching like um, what I would call professional development coaching, like how do I be a better boss, how do I be a better leader.

Speaker 2:

But that almost works as part of the crisis that we're working on or the issue that's happening in the moment when I've been through this a bunch of times and it's like which accountant do I work with? Right, you know. Now I've got, you know, through QuickBooks, I've got somebody that just kind of reconciles all my expenses and everything every month. I don't have time to do that. I'm trying to work on the business or in the business, right, but I don't, I don't, I don't want to do any accounting work. I'm a creative person, right, right, and I'm busy. I've got this going on, I got that going on, you know, I got a bunch of stuff happening. I don't necessarily have time to do that.

Speaker 2:

And then months later, years later, maybe even I go down and you know I'm looking at my accounting or somebody else is looking at my account. It's like, oh my God, what is this nonsense Like? What have you done to your company, right, right. And you can't, you can't do anything. You can't, you can't undo it, but you cannot do it. You can't get reports, you don't know what your P and L's look like, you don't know what anything looks like. I mean, your balance sheet's a mess, right. So you can't run reports and you can't go from one year to the next year knowing if you've done better or not. You're just kind of flying by the seat of your pants right.

Speaker 3:

Well, a lot of times, when you're a small business, especially if it's you and maybe one or two other people your main objective is cashflow. You're just trying to make sure do I have enough money to pay my people? That's right.

Speaker 3:

Can I pay the invoices that are coming in for my suppliers or whatever it is that I happen to be selling or building or making, and a lot of times you just don't think about that. And then there's a moment when the business has this opportunity to be different or bigger, or someone wants to buy it, or you want a loan, and you realize at that moment because no one's sitting side by side with you on this stuff right?

Speaker 2:

No, everybody else has got other things to do. Like, unless you're paying somebody to do this stuff, nobody's helping you.

Speaker 3:

I mean, Absolutely other things to do, like, unless you're paying somebody to do this stuff there, nobody's helping you. I mean absolutely, and a lot of times we find that the people that we're working with it really was a hobby at first. That grew and they converted it into a business, but really never took any business classes to think about these. No right.

Speaker 2:

As soon as you start a business, you're busy doing the business like you're not. You're not, yeah, taking classes. It's like I can't. You know, I had a whim, wild hair or something got in me and I was like let me start this candle business, or let me do this thing, or oh, I want to sell things online now, or whatever. Or I want to open a retail store because there's a cool space that just came available and I want to move in and do this thing, this coffee shop that I always thought about doing.

Speaker 3:

Like that's kind of how people start, I think they do, and they don't know how to do the work in advance, because everybody, everybody gets attached, not everybody. A lot of people get attached emotionally to their idea and so they. They don't have the capacity to walk away from something when maybe they should shut down a product, or they should shut down the idea, or they should wait a little longer before they open that new location. You know, location, location, location is still the big thing. And just because it's a cool space doesn't mean people are going to walk in. Right, right, right, exactly.

Speaker 3:

And we can help people think about those kinds of things, put them on a trajectory or a plan and say you know how many cups of coffee are you going to need to sell and how much does the coffee cost you and how long does the coffee last and where are you going to get your cups from and how many people are you going to need to work there? And do you know how expensive the machines are and are you going to buy them? Are you going to lease them and have you going to need to work there? And do you know how expensive the machines are and are you going to buy them? Are you going to lease them and have you talked to the health department? Do you know what's required in order? So there's a lot of things that people don't even. They don't even know that they don't know.

Speaker 2:

They're just going to open a coffee shop and sell coffee and everything's going to be great, and they're going to chit chat with customers and make new friends, and that's what's going to happen.

Speaker 3:

And we want them to do that, yeah, but we want them to do it with their eyes wide open, so that they don't have to shut down in a year because of the rules that they didn't understand. And it's not that the rules are bad, they're just there and you just have to plan for them. Some of them cost you money and some of them don't Right, and some of them don't Right.

Speaker 2:

Well, in the Biz Access Hub and NKU and so many other organizations, bnky, is that what it is now? Bnky, let's try it. Yeah, bnky, you've got. You know the chambers, obviously. You know Covington Business Council, you've got the Northern Kentucky Chamber, you've got the Newport Chamber, you've got the Cincinnati Chamber. You've got all these things right.

Speaker 2:

These are all economic development organizations and we don't want you to fail, because the vast majority of people in this country are employed by small businesses, small, medium-sized businesses. It's not necessarily the huge businesses. You see Walmart right, walmart's the biggest employer in the world, or in America, or maybe even the world at this point, I think. But you know there's only a certain amount of people that work for them. Everybody else works for small, medium-sized businesses. We want you to be successful. Everybody who's in politics, everybody who's in you know, any kind of economic development arm of local governance, wants you to be successful as a small business. So things like this get put into place, but I feel like they're underutilized because people don't know they exist. But here you are building awareness for these campaigns and you are part of. So explain to me the hierarchy. You've got NKU, inside of NKU, you've got the biz access hub, and then inside of that you're working on this new program called bank.

Speaker 3:

Right, so, um right. So NKU is the big parent and, uh, I'm actually housed inside the Hale college of business, so we understand how businesses run. We have all the accounting and marketing and all the different kinds of professors that you need that are there, that can support some of the clients that we're working with. Then what? What we're committed to? We've been helping small businesses, but under another way, for a lot of years, and we decided we needed to be able to work with more people and provide more services than we were able to do in the past.

Speaker 3:

So they brought me on about two years ago and said build this thing. And so I've been building it for two years and that's where the Biz Access Hub is now. So I took 35 years of where everybody already knew us the banks, all knew us, things of that nature and now we're just providing new services and we have a new name. So it's really, it's really very exciting. So the Biz Access Hub actually is the coaching and consulting business inside of the Hale College of Business. Okay, so what we do is we people become members of the Biz Access Hub. So people pay a fee.

Speaker 2:

It's a nominal fee, right now you don't have to have gone to NKU or any of this kind of stuff.

Speaker 3:

Oh, no, no, no, no. But we welcome all the NKU grads who want to come back and play. But we have something right now going on. It's called a lifetime membership. Now, remember COVID, lifetime, kind of everything screwed things up, so we call it we say lifetime, which is really about three years.

Speaker 3:

Three years, we say lifetime, which is really about three years, three years. You work with us for 1500 bucks. You can work with us for about five hours one month, no hours the next month, maybe it's 10 hours when you're in a crisis or strategy, maybe we don't see you for a couple of months, but over the three years, 1500 bucks with a dedicated. Holy moly. I know that's crazy, I know, and we're Some people charge 1500 hours for an hour. Well, well, and and that's probably not the client that we're looking for.

Speaker 3:

No no no, those people who can afford $1,500 an hour should use those people. But what we do is we know that people need help with HR, they need people help with legal, they need help with a lot of other things, and so we have a whole cadre of vendors that are in the in in the community who actually help us do the work. So some of the work is pro bono. Some of it they give us reduced rates, with the ultimate objective of creating long-term relationships with our clients, and then at that point we become like a project manager. So you come to us and you're trying to build, you're trying to open a new location, so we bring in a commercial lawyer and we bring in a business valuation person and we bring in all the people that are needed to help you make your decisions. Now, those folks might charge a little extra fee, yeah, but since they're working with us, we're already bringing them a hot lead, somebody who wants to work with them and is ready to pay for some things.

Speaker 2:

Well, this is great too, because now you're connecting business owners with the people who want to work with business owners through your program. So, yeah, you're providing them a lead, but at the same time, some of the people you work with now could eventually become those vendors later.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely, and the one thing I knew is that I didn't want to put small businesses out of business. There's a lot of great coaches around here, yes. How do I bring them into the BizAccess hub to provide coaching for some of these small businesses that need help?

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

How do I bring in smaller accountants? How do I bring in some of the lawyers who may or may not, you know, have a full book of business, but they're really good at what they do. But you know, when you're trying to sell and then design and deliver and you're still pipelining it and you're a one person show, I didn't want to put those folks out of business. So I'm looking at how do I bring everybody in, which becomes this thing called the bank, which you mentioned. So the bank is what I call the business alliance of Northern Kentucky. So we have, as you mentioned, the chambers. We have BNKY, we have Meet NKY, which is, you know, the tourism folks. But what if there's a group of people who have a commitment to making sure that small businesses and medium businesses get the resources they need? That's not what a chamber can provide. Chambers are great at. I love chambers. Oh my gosh. You know there's chambers. They do the networking, they handle big topics. You're not going to see us out there lobbying any of our representatives.

Speaker 2:

No, you're not stepping on anybody's toes.

Speaker 3:

We're complimenting that work and and so we're going to be looking for people who want to join the bank and provide the needed resources to get all these people access to coaching, because, as you said, something like 99% of all businesses in the United States by size are considered small businesses. So the bank then becomes the place where people can contribute and help shape. What do the services look like for small and medium-sized businesses? Because it's not happening out there in the world right now. Everybody's focused on the cool, sexy venture capital tech.

Speaker 2:

I want to raise $10 million in my first, my angel round.

Speaker 3:

I wish I were that smart. I would love to be able to do that, but that's not the bread and butter of the United States. That's not.

Speaker 2:

Well, when we did one and we sold it in 2015. And at the time, I remember they said one out of every 100,000 startups had ever, ever sold for over nine figures. That's one in 100,000. Wow, and now 10 figures is the new thing, you know. You like, if you don't have a billion dollar startup like you're nobody now Right, right it. If you don't have a billion dollar startup like you're nobody now Right, it's crazy. It's like back in the day, like, wow, a hundred million dollars, that would have been a big deal, right, well, not anymore. Like that's, that's old news, I know. Yeah, now you're getting, now you're raising money in your A round at a you know, $1 billion valuation. Right, it's crazy now.

Speaker 2:

And things have changed a little bit in the last couple of years because money's gotten more expensive. But when money's cheap and it's, you know, you could borrow money as a VC at, you know, from a bank at 3% or 4%. Oh, you invest in these companies all day, even if it's at a high valuation, right. And then one guy invested a high valuation, next guy, next. Next thing, you know everybody's. Well, they've pulled back now, right, it's not, they're not giving these crazy valuations to these companies anymore.

Speaker 2:

But that world is completely different than what we need. Like, that's a moonshot, right, right. And we're not in Silicon Valley, we're in, uh, and I try to tell people, don, I'm like, why don't we lean into the things we're really good at? Why don't we lean into supply chain logistics? I know Silicon Valley can't compete with us because they're not here, right, they're not in this area, right? We just so happen to be in an area where we're a day's drive from a third of the US population. Here you got I-75, you got river transport, you got rail, you've got an airport in Northern Kentucky that's becoming this logistics hub for places like Amazon and you know, and there's companies, small businesses that you're going to work with that could feed off of those big companies coming in. Absolutely, absolutely.

Speaker 3:

And those companies don't know where to turn. So often what happens is they don't go after the opportunity to add a new product line or to scale, or they try it and they get so frustrated and they lose money or they lose focus. Yeah, and those are the ones that wind up going out of business or scaling back and eventually not selling because they haven't been able to keep up with the new technology.

Speaker 2:

You know what I'm saying. Could you help companies with your connections to chambers, because NKU is connected in with so many other things? Wanting to help like this isn't common, I would think. But being connected to BNKY, all the chambers you know, the government in these three counties we have here, but being able to work with those people in the chambers, having connections to groups in the airport, having connections to groups like Amazon, wayfair, companies like that If I'm a small business, I want clients like that Is there a route for these small businesses to come to you, talk to your consultants and maybe get a foot in the door with one of these big companies that if they went to directly they may not have an opportunity to get in with? They may not have an opportunity?

Speaker 3:

to get in with. It's a different way of looking at it, but between all of us, you know the old, you know how many degrees of familiarity from.

Speaker 3:

Kevin Bacon right, and I think that at NKU we're one or two from all those companies I mean, I know people that are working in all the big companies who know the people to talk to. Right, we do a lot of work with CVG from an economic perspective. So we have people on campus who are very tied in and you know there's a there's a proper way to approach those people and we can help them design the approach in. So it's not just hey, I want you to go here to Adam.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, kind of like, here's what Adam knows and we know that Adam knows these people. And then this is this is the conversation that Adam would be interested in, and let's see if we can get a door open that way rather than just pick up the phone. Now, there's nothing wrong with being a rebel and picking up the phone, but it doesn't always get you exactly what you want If you don't really understand the context for how they're listening. Right, but absolutely that's part of what I do a lot of. I have this gal who created a food product and knew that she needed to go through food stabilization studies and there were all kinds of things and she didn't know how to get connected to the FDA. And how do I get connected to the people who can do these other things? So how do I? I can help them If I don't know.

Speaker 3:

I know people who know how do you take your, your, your food product and actually make it ready for the store. We have a. We have another lady I'm working with who has created a piece of hardware and got a patent on it and is we're now trying to test the prototype, and the chairman, the department chair of our engineering technology school. He and their folks are building it for her and trying to figure out. You know, what kind of material should it be made? That's exactly what people need.

Speaker 3:

How do we do a die cast of it and how do we do all these other pieces of it? Because she's got the idea, we've got the patent, but now he's not a mechanical engineer.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, he's trying to build a thing. Oh my God, I've got somebody for you guys. I've got a friend who's doing something bottle. I love it. He wants to completely change the way people think about their water and the way they drink water and what the water bottle is capable of. So I'll just leave it at that, but it's going to be really awesome and he needs to talk to you.

Speaker 3:

But that's the kind of thing where it's people have an idea, but what do I do now? I can't always give them an answer in an hour, but it's like, okay, let me go talk to a couple of people, let me see what I know, let's see what other people can tell us. Because since it's, since I'm not the owner right, I don't have to fill my hours with somebody who's going to pay me a whole bunch of money every hour. Right, I have this great luxury of working for an academic institution but also has the business focus.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so I I can go find things and and you've got the freedom to be able to do that yes, instead of oh, my God, that's going to take me like three days and, oh boy, if I have to take three days away from another person that I could be coaching, I'm going to tell you no, but I don't have to do that. I can go out. I've got people on campus, I've got people all around the world. Literally from my past experience, I'll find you somebody, we'll get it figured out?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and speaking of your past experience, let everybody know like what have you? You know what puts you in a position to where you could do all this stuff.

Speaker 3:

That's really a great question. If you were to look at my resume you'd say OK, what in the name of heavens? How do all these things connect? And really, I like, I like to help build big, risky things with other people's money.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'm really good at that. That's what you're supposed to do actually.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, not your money, other people's money. Yeah, so I I started out. Um, you know, if you look on a tissue bottle, a tissue box or a paper towel box or toilet paper box or toilet paper, you'll see like a little symbol that says the wood in this product comes from a well-managed forest. Okay, well, I was part of the five people who started that back in 1992. Oh, wow, so I worked on that for 10 years. And now all of the companies in this country who are growing wood and selling that, if you haven't been through all that certification stuff, you don't have a product in the United States. Oh wow.

Speaker 3:

So, it was really cool. So I worked on that for about 10 years, saw the momentum, thought, okay, what am I going to do next? So I wound up working for a big consulting firm called JMW and we worked in oil and gas. So we were helping people inside the oil and gas world work on really big, crazy projects. People came to our classes that were working on $10 million projects, like they couldn't even come unless they were going to make a $10 million impact. Did you do it? Were you down in Houston a lot? I was in Houston, galveston, and then I was in Europe a lot as well. Wow, because we went wherever the BP. I was mostly in oops. I was in this big oil and gas company and mostly in oops. I was in this big oil and gas company and we were able to help them get a lot of stuff done, which was really great.

Speaker 3:

And then I then the recession hit of 2008 and big luxury consulting went away everywhere. So I had this great opportunity to go to well before that cool stuff, I got to work on biotech and forestry, working on United Nations treaties, so Monsanto and people like that were, and the pharmaceuticals were saying really great stuff about you know, how should we regulate this? But they weren't thinking about how long if you put a gene in a tree, how long should you have to test it before you can demonstrate its value? So people were talking about you know, a soybean, you need one season to test it. Well, a tree season could be 25 years.

Speaker 3:

Oh, so we didn't want to agree to that. Now there's no biotech trees out there, but we were thinking in the future, what happens if we are able to get a gene to work that could, you know, reduce the impact of our of the forest you know, reduce the harvesting or reduce some other chemical related into chemical thing, related to pulping or manufacturing, right, right, so, anyway, so I got to do a whole bunch of that stuff.

Speaker 3:

And then then I want to point to purdue and building um companies with the professors through grants and public private partnerships. So how do I take somebody's molecule and let's say that it could go? We know it works in cotton, can it work over here? And can we use some sort of crypto, kind of bitcoin world, oh, to fund some of these things? Or how do we Did you guys do an ICO? Apparently not. I don't. Unless it's a term, I don't know Well the crypto.

Speaker 2:

that's how people were raising money in the crypto space in 2017.

Speaker 3:

Well, it was really more about using the technology, for how do you manage all the data? Like all the data, that's?

Speaker 2:

coming up Sure if it was in a blockchain.

Speaker 3:

You could trust it.

Speaker 2:

Blockchain data. Sure it was in a blockchain, you could trust it. Yeah, season that funny I need a cup of coffee, but it's a whole idea. Conflict crypto and blockchain. They don't understand that. They're the blockchain's, the, the technology behind crypto. Right, and blockchain is a trusted ledger. Correct is essentially what it is and it used in accounting. It makes a whole lot of sense, which is why bitcoin became a thing. Right, because blockchain you. It's an immutable record, so if it goes on the record, it's staying on the record. It's never leaving. So you can go back through history and see that these things were done and your balance sheet, or whatever it is in accounting, is always reconciled. You don't need to go back and do anything because if you spend a dollar, then it takes a dollar out of this other side. Essentially, it always stays balanced, correct.

Speaker 3:

So. But we were using the blockchain side because we were working, like with agricultural data, and farmers don't want to share their data and big farmers don't want to share their data. But how do we take that kind of a data, make it anonymous and use it to be able to detect bugs or pests, or to create or to create new fertilizers or to create new herbicides? So I was doing all of that and then decided it was time to get back to Cincinnati, where my family is, so came back here and NKU wound up on my radar screen. And here we are Awesome.

Speaker 2:

Wow, it's a long way to go around.

Speaker 3:

You seem overqualified.

Speaker 2:

They're lucky to have you at NKU. Thank you, yeah, for for sure. So small business facts so 4,000 plus small businesses in northern Kentucky, 677 of them locally in rural areas, 75 have 20 employees or less. I know it's amazing 33 women owned. So when I see stuff like this, I think about um Mavis Lineman, who's down in our basement there and she worked with, uh, aviatra, right, and my cousin laura worked with aviatra. She built an app, a babysitting app, in a company around babysitting, sold it. The guy that bought it kind of didn't want to deal with it anymore, gave it back to she, sold it again three days later. Oh my God, yeah, yeah, because there were multiple people wanting to buy the company.

Speaker 2:

I think.

Speaker 3:

Oh no, that's right. Aviatra, aviatra. We partner with Aviatra on a lot of things, because Jill was here.

Speaker 2:

Jill was in the podcast, so was she yeah.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, she's amazing, she and I between sometimes she we're we have a strong commitment to women. Um, just, and because I'm a woman, I think I tend to attract a lot of women clients we work with a lot of. A lot of our clients are men, but what's really cool is sometimes they go through her programs and then they kind of come out of the program and she doesn't necessarily have the resource at that moment to help them get to the next stage. So then they come to us.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

And then we have a lot of people calling us who are really truly startups and I send them back to her. So we have built like a whole new pipeline where people can easily move from one place to the other.

Speaker 2:

There are so many resources here Alloy in Hamilton County, centrifuge places like that. But it's the connections and it's the awareness I think a lot of people don't understand and especially like women businesses I know Jill talked about it too is a lot of the women who come into her program don't necessarily have scalable businesses. At that point, right, they think I'm going to start this consulting practice or I'm going to start a coffee shop or one of these other things. They may not be thinking down the road hey, I could franchise this thing, right, I could turn this into something way bigger. And men do like we're like, yeah, we're going to make trillions of dollars and we're going to be rich and we're going to build these giant companies and all this stuff.

Speaker 2:

But it's like turning that lifestyle business into a scalable business in our community. That can become something huge is something that I think Jill and Aviatra help these women with when they come into the program. I mean, look at Mavis downstairs. I mean she's killing it. She was named the Kentucky business person of the year. They named her the Kentucky business woman of the year a couple of years in a row and then they just finally got it together and just called her the Kentucky business person.

Speaker 3:

Cause she's awesome. Well, and she is. I mean, she really is. And I think that people don't realize. We talk about shop shopping local. But even if you don't shop local, if you go to some of the bigger stores, they have all of our local stuff and it's not so coming from an ag world.

Speaker 2:

You know, there's this, all this Kentucky proud, and it's not so, coming from an ag world, you know, there's this, all this Kentucky proud, oh yeah, and UK is huge for agriculture, like it. Yeah, one of the biggest schools I think it's the biggest school, agriculture school in the country, or something like that One of them.

Speaker 3:

I don't know about that, but it is one of the big land grants for sure. But but there's a lot of things where you know the case that's on your phone might have been manufactured by somebody locally and you don't know it. I know so much of the things that you're buying aren't necessarily showcased as Kentucky made or Ohio made, and so then we just don't realize the impact that these small businesses are having on our lives every single day.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, having on our lives every single day. Yeah, well, even like the mres in the military, the, the food packages that the uh, you know that the military guys carry around in their bags, those are made in northern kentucky in the heating elements separate company. The heating elements they use to cook the food in these little mres are made here in northern kentucky. I mean, there's so many weird things.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's crazy, like all the stuff that's done here. Like even my printing company is in Hebron and I didn't know they were here. It was just like one of the cheapest broker printing companies in the country that I could work with and come to find out I could just pick the stuff up. Like I'm like, oh crap, I'm printing all these billboard posters and all this stuff. I was like I can just go pick it up, not have to pay for the shipping. What am I doing? They're just like right down the street. Right, it's wild.

Speaker 2:

But yeah, you're right, like these small businesses and just getting these small businesses to scale into bigger businesses so that we can hire more people and we can bring more people into Northern Kentucky and we can give a major impact on people here in Eastern Kentucky at least.

Speaker 2:

And a lot of those people still don't have work or their jobs are scaled back. Maybe they're working in different industries, they're trying to do different things. I mean you can get on YouTube and look at some of the poorest counties in the country are in Kentucky. How do we get Northern Kentucky to maybe bring some of those people in? Or how do we create businesses up here that help the people in those communities, not have to leave those communities. Maybe you build a factory down there because you've got a lot of labor that isn't being used and it's like, hey, I could build whatever it is these sunglasses or some sunglasses or whatever it is Open a factory down there. You know it's helping out everybody. You don't know the route these businesses are going to take and what the effects these businesses can have on not just the economy here in northern Kentucky but across the state, across the country.

Speaker 3:

Well, I agree, and a lot and a lot of those things do tend to kind of start to have to deal with some policy work. Because how do I, if I, if I, built a factory in an area where there aren't enough employees, how do I bring enough employees in and how do I support people who already are making sufficient money through other unique ways, which might include government welfare ideas, things of that nature. There's so much involved in trying to build a big thing. But, you're right, how do we find people who want to work and are ready to work and give them the skills that they need? So we do have relationships with a lot of those folks and with companies who do that kind of training, like the Center for Great Work Performance. They do amazing work working with middle management who came up through the line and may not have a degree, but now they're kind of thrust into this management scenario and they don't know how to be leaders and be managers and think about P&Ls.

Speaker 3:

But I think the other thing that's really important is to realize that all of the so I was thinking about this my kid's 25 and I'm close to retirement age. You know, five years, 10 years, something like that, and it's those kids that are going to be the next CEOs. Yes, yeah, they are all born right now. Janet Hera from the center for economic and analysis and Development, she's at NKU and she does a lot of this like workforce stuff, and those kids are already born. There's not extras of them laying around, no, and they are all technology geeks. That's right. And how do we help companies that exist today scale? How do we help them with AI? How do we help them get the? How do we help them take the, get the lift through just even a calendaring app, or you know the non-sexy?

Speaker 3:

companies right, how do we help them? Because they want to stay in business and there's not always going to be someone who can work there. You know, I was on the purdue campus and they have all these little robots going around because they don't have delivery drivers. So you, the pizza companies, put their stuff in this little robot. It sits. It looks like something out of star Wars. I know what you're talking about yeah.

Speaker 3:

And the only person that can open it is somebody who has the code. So it'll go like a half a mile to you or a mile all around campus, these things, and they can tell if it's a car or a person and if they can cross the road or not and it's delivering your food.

Speaker 2:

Well, if you can't find a delivery driver, you need something you need something like that or you got to go out of business there's even those robots are driving around miami when I was down there downtown, miami has advertising robots, oh, and they just drive around advertising businesses so I think adding technology not scary technology, but technology that you can use every day to make yourself less insane is also what we do.

Speaker 3:

Is we help people think about how do you increase your productivity so you can work on the stuff that's important.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, and without that kind of help it's really really hard to scale. With somebody who started multiple businesses, I can tell you you feel lost a lot of times because you know I was working in agencies and I was an employee for a while and you know I just decided it wasn't for me. Corporate's not for me, like I can't, I'm just not that personality type.

Speaker 2:

I don't know if you never did your Myers-Briggs and stuff, but I'm an ENTP, so I'm like very like we're one of the more entrepreneurial kinds. We don't really like authority a whole lot. So we're kind of like, yeah, we're like I want to do my own thing. My boss is stupider than me, I'm going to go and do my own thing. Why am I working for this guy when I can work Absolutely? So, uh, yeah. So I mean there's a lot of people out there like that, I think, that have the ambition and have the drive to do something, but it seems so hard to do.

Speaker 2:

And you know me as someone who's in politics. I hear it all the time from people that just sound like they've been beaten down by life. Me, I'm free market capitalist guy, right, I love capitalism, I love it. I mean there's problems, right, obviously. But you got a lot of these people were like bring down capitalism, it sucks, it's terrible, and all this other stuff. That's one of the reasons I got the podcast, because I'm like no, no, no, no, it's not. You're thinking of big companies taking advantage of the small guy. You're not thinking of these small businesses out here that use what we have, the system we have, to better their lives and better the lives in their communities, and it's like we don't need to tear it down. We actually need to promote it more, in my opinion, to the people like me who didn't corporate really wasn't for us.

Speaker 2:

It was right, we needed something, but we don't know accounting. We don't know we know our thing right. I knew web design, right, graphic design. I didn't know accounting, I didn't know the legal aspects of things. I didn't know where do I go to get an EIN number, like all that kinds of stuff early on could be really, really helpful. And you guys not only help connect people with those folks but continue as they grow and can help them with their company to go down the right path. And then those people go from, I would say, entrepreneurs into business people right, you go from just a basic entrepreneur into somebody who knows business, who understands business Right.

Speaker 3:

It's exciting times. I mean it's very exciting because people some somewhere along the line in this country we've developed like a culture called I got to do it myself.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 3:

You know, I need to be strong, I need to prove something, I need to be the gazillionaire. And they don't realize that, like Procter and Gamble and all those, those were a couple of people got together and they made a soap and then it grew over time, but they didn't do it alone. There were people, they had help, and we don't trust each other and we don't trust, we don't know who to call.

Speaker 2:

That's it. I don't know if I'm going to waste money on this person. I'm already running on tight margins. Now you're asking me to hire an accountant that wants you know $5,000 to do this thing, or you know $1,000 a month to reconcile our books.

Speaker 3:

And the last one I used, or you know, or my friend had this and I totally understand their worry and their concern. But that's why, if you come and work with us, we have vetted these folks. They are proven quantities in the industry. Proven quantities in the industry. If I'm going to tell you to go work with somebody and you're going to give them your hard earned money, I do not want to lose sleep at night wondering if they're going to do the job. Yeah, I'm going to make sure you're with someone that I know will get it done. That's right, because I'm on the line. My reputation is on the line. This is not just you know, can, can we get you a good resource? I want to. I'm in it for you and if and if I don't connect you correctly, it's on me. People will say don't go back to Dawn, she's terrible, Do you?

Speaker 2:

know what I mean, I know what you mean.

Speaker 3:

Don't think about that. And so I will make sure that, whoever you're connected with, we had a situation once where we had hired someone to work with a client and I had to fire the vendor because what the vendor said that she would do and what she was doing for the client wasn't working. And there was some attitudinal issues that were going on where making the saying things to the client, my client, that was inappropriate and I and so, but a lot of people, if they get into that situation, they feel like they've already hired this person. I got to stick it out and I intervened and said I'm sorry, we're firing you as the, as our, as our, as our vendor. You aren't able to get this work done. My client, we're not. You know, here's how we're going to pay you. And then I went and found my client, another person. Well, most small businesses do not have the bandwidth to hire and fire clients. They've got, maybe they've got a contract that they're worried about and they've. You know, it's just too much work.

Speaker 2:

When you're supposed to hire slow fire fast. That's the idea, right? That's the idea, and it's good for the vendor too, because the vendor needs to know where they messed up Right, so that behavior doesn't continue.

Speaker 3:

Right. But if you're working your own small business and it's like, oh, that's such a pain and I'll put up, I'm just gonna put up with it, well, it truly wasn't that we thought it would be and me, as the project manager and coach said, if we're going to get this work done, we need to use someone else and I, because I hired that person, I can fire them from this job and go find the right person.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah. And it's yeah because you have almost a fiduciary duty in a way to the customer and not necessarily to the vendor, like you're giving the vendor an opportunity, correct? And it's like, hey, look, if you, you know, if you want to piss away this opportunity, that's on you, right, right, well, another good resource is Nancy Canal here at the Penn County library, and you know she obviously she connected me to you, she connected me to Nick Brophy at DA, uh dav, and he was on the podcast a couple uh episodes ago. So it's crazy, like you, okay, so we just talked about, uh, jill at at aviatra, focused on women businesses. You've got nick focused on veteran businesses. You're take anybody, right. I mean it's just like, well, yeah, kind of anybody who's?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, there's limitations, but but the thing is is like, hey, you could have, you've got these different channels for different people who fit different criteria. You're a veteran, go to Nick, right. You're a woman, go to ABA, talk to Jill, and then those people could eventually come to you. They get a business off the ground, they've got things going, They've got customers, they're making money, but I don't know anything about this. I don't know anything about that. Hey, I'm struggling. I've hit this thing. Somebody wants to buy my business. Now, right what, my books are a mess. Right, what do I do? Or how much is it worth?

Speaker 2:

And of course they're thinking, you know, 20 X, uh, their revenue but it's like yeah, you're a coffee shop, maybe two X, uh, but but whatever it is, but they don't even know what that means, right? So it's like I just if I sold my business, I'd sell it for a million dollars. It's like, okay, well, let's look at the numbers.

Speaker 3:

So you guys help with that too, absolutely Well, and I know the people Right and they are ready, yes, right, and they can do it way faster and be better at it.

Speaker 2:

Why are you chugging along on your books, trying to figure things out, when you should be focused on growing your company? This is what people don't understand.

Speaker 3:

It's like hire a professional, but it's that I got to do it myself thing. People don't trust and a lot of times reason a lot of reasons why people got into these businesses is because they had a bad event at a in a corporate environment and they don't trust people. Right, or I got fired, I'm going to build a business and I and so I still don't trust people, or I don't know who to talk to.

Speaker 2:

Oh, that's a big one too. Well, I mean, and plus, I mean, you're in an area full of Appalachian people who migrated here and I'm part Appalachian too and we have a problem trusting people in the first place. So I think you've got that problem, kind of, and then we're in a city full of like. On top of that. We're in a city full of like. You know, we're the cheapest people on earth and it's funny. I could tell you a story about why that is, but I think it goes all the way back to Germany. But it's a, you know, it's just tightwad people who think they have to do everything on their own Right, and I think that that's handed down, that's a mentality that's handed down, and we're in a culture and a community in this area that kind of has that mentality, and it's like we need to get over that if this area is going to grow.

Speaker 3:

Well and I think part of it is also they don't everybody. So everybody is unique and everybody's not unique at all. So your idea, no matter how unique you think it is, it's building on something else that somebody else has already done. So you're often afraid that someone's going to steal your idea.

Speaker 2:

Oh God, nobody's got time for that stealing idea stuff.

Speaker 3:

No, but we really believe that. I mean, if you walk down I tell people I use this analogy all the time If you walk down the Kroger shampoo aisle, you know shampoo is really a detergent to loosen the dirt on your hair and then a surfactant to grab it and take it off.

Speaker 2:

That's all you need.

Speaker 3:

Then we add stuff for curly hair, for dry hair, for colored hair, for natural hair, for dandruff hair, you know right. And somebody wants a pretty smell and somebody doesn't want any smell at all, and somebody likes the color and somebody likes this, but it's still all this in many ways.

Speaker 2:

Chemically, it's the same product.

Speaker 3:

But are we stealing each other's ideas when we put a new shampoo out? No, you just have to figure out how do you stand out in the marketplace, cause you're right, no one's going to steal your idea. But but when you go out into the marketplace and there are other people that are looking similar, you just have to find a way to stand out so we can help you make sure. And if you have an idea that is stealable and there are some really great stealable ideas out there We've got the people to help you protect it. Should you copyright it? Should you patent it? Do you need to disclose it somewhere so that you know we can?

Speaker 2:

do $1,500. So it's $1,500, right, and you get. It's just crazy, I know, like that's might as well be free, I mean, compared to how much you would pay if you went out and tried to do this stuff on your own.

Speaker 3:

But if we're able to help some of these companies get that rolling, a lot of times they don't need us. They won't need us for 10 years. They'll just need us periodically, right, but this is a three years. We help you where we can and there's going to be other businesses that are going to support that work. So if I get banks have a very strong interest so they may donate money, right, That'll help underwrite the coaches and that's what some of this is Biz Access Hub investment levels.

Speaker 2:

Is that what this?

Speaker 3:

chart is here.

Speaker 2:

That's what the bank is right Financier, investor, shareholder, patron and friend. So those are just opportunities for people who believe in this program to kind of get behind it and help these small businesses. Correct, this is like a legacy thing for some people, Absolutely. And if you want to leave a mark on the community, this would be a great way to do it. If you're, if you're a wealthy business owner or somebody who's just you know, hey, I, you know, I'm figuring out my thing. I'm figuring out you know what's the next thing for me, how do I help? Because you get to that point of Maslow's hierarchy, right when you've done it. Right Now you feel comfortable, you got your boat in Florida and you're doing just fine. What's the next thing? Like, I want to help other people, I want to give back somehow.

Speaker 3:

This would be a great way to give back. It is a really great way and one of the things we have, and so I mean I love it when people hand me $20,000. And I love it when people hand me $10,000, but there's a lot of people who just want to know they're making an impact. And the bottom, the lower level one is $1,500 to be a friend and that $1,500 pays a scholarship for another company to come in and you can know that your $1,500 is going to help a company get a membership.

Speaker 2:

Oh, my God you know you don't even have to pay the $1,500, because these people are willing to donate the money to help you get To get started.

Speaker 3:

Wow, and with with us, you know, and if I could get, if I have a hundred people that give $1,500, that gives me a hundred clients that we can help.

Speaker 2:

So now we just need to tell the clients, like, look, there's money here, go like, do it. What are you waiting on? That's crazy, yeah. Oh, all the struggles that I've had like I will tell you where in the world was this? Yeah, this is nuts. So so now do you have to be at 500 000, uh, in revenue, which there's a lot of small businesses that are 500 000, yeah, and they have expenses that are tons of expenses they're 450,000 or more Right.

Speaker 3:

Um, you know, whenever you create documents like that, you have to put some sort of number on there, some sort of number. Um, I have folks that are, you know, a lot smaller. What I find is, if you're, if you're really like in the a hundred thousand dollar level, there's probably some more. It's still kind of in that startup resource mode and maybe we get to a class or we get you into a group situation, because to get you from a hundred, it really is a big mindset change. Yeah, not always a scaling change.

Speaker 2:

It's probably you're working on the business by yourself at a hundred, yeah, and then you found some resource to help you get to 250. Right, but then once you get to a million, it's easy to get to 2 million, right, in my opinion. I mean, I think once you're at that point, you've already figured out, kind of the, because there's a three-legged stool, right. There's your product, sales and marketing and administration, and if one of those legs is not proper, the stool is going to fall apart, correct? So when you're a small business, you're a hundred people, you're, you know you're. You're a hundred thousand dollar company, whatever it is, you probably don't have the administrative thing worked out. You don't have processes, everything's in your head. Um, you haven't really done that. You've got a product, you know you, you got product. You probably don't necessarily have sales and marketing either. It's, it's who you know, you know. So those two need to be strengthened, those two need work.

Speaker 2:

I would say the product may be good, but maybe not. Maybe you got to do a little work on the product. Or you can do something like white label something. Then you don't have to worry about the product, cause there's another company that already has refined the product, like my buddy and you. You talked about it also. Uh, he, it's sales and marketing is what he needs, because he has the product right. It's a. It's a supplement company, okay, pre-workout, post-workout.

Speaker 2:

He owns a gym, so he wants to be able to sell these products to his own gym members. Because why am I selling other people's stuff when there's a white label company in kentucky that makes these products and I can just slap my label on it? I can go to larger than, which is a label printing company in Northern Kentucky. I can go to them and I can have them print really nice labels for 50 cents, 80 cents a piece, and I'm buying this protein for $28 and I can sell it for $55. Right, well, the product portion of that is already figured out. The administrative kind of the way you know the processes and everything, he's got to work on a little bit. But the white label company does a lot of that already, because they're probably working with a company that's producing the powder in china or somewhere, right, right, and then whoever's making the, the actual containers they provide you. So some of that administrative needs to be figured out. But the big thing is sales and marketing. Now, correct, he needs help with that absolutely.

Speaker 3:

And they say where do I? And I say, call me and we'll help you get to step one. Yeah, and then figure it out after that. But they often will not do that opportunity because they can't figure out. Who do I have to call? How do I protect the percentage I'm supposed to give them back? Are we? How does this thing work? And I don't have time to work on that because I've got 18 clients in the gym every hour and I have to actually be in the gym and I'm tired when I get home.

Speaker 2:

They got to know someone like you or I, like I'm in his gym and he doesn't even do classes. He does one-on-one personal training right In his gym, and then you can go be doing something else. You should start a blog, you should start a video blog, you should start these things, but you don't want to do it. You don't listen to me, Right? And then I'm like hey man, I got this label client in Northern Kentucky that works with this other company that does private label stuff, white label products that you could sell to your customers. He's like what's that? How does that even work? Like he thought he had to formulate the thing.

Speaker 2:

Right, Right, right right, he's like oh I got to make this powder and all this other. No, dude, it's already done, that's right. You just you got to get the sales and marketing piece. And guess who does sales and marketing? Wah, yeah. So it's like I designed a package, I designed a label for him. We're working with the label guy right now trying to decide, like you know, what's metallic, what's not metallic on the label, et cetera, et cetera. But you send that over to the white label company.

Speaker 3:

They slap the labels on there, they come on a roll Boom, but he never would have thought of that if you guys didn't happen to have this chance conversation.

Speaker 2:

No, because he works out at the gym all day. He's in the gym world. He's not in the business world like you and I. It's like, if you're even thinking about starting something, get out of this mindset that America is this terrible place that evil capitalists live in and you have no other option than to go work for one of these people. No, if you want to free yourself from the nine to five indentured servitude which is what I call it we need those people. We need them. But if you're not in that mind frame and you want to do something bigger, go to somebody. Go to nku, go to find one of these organizations, and I mean, then they can come to you, even though they may not even be at this well, and 500 000 or whatever.

Speaker 3:

Connect them to the right people. You know, I don't say, oh, you don't have that, oh sorry, yeah, do that. You know, because I may, you may actually have something more and don't even recognize it. You maybe haven't managed the asset the way you thought right and you haven't calculated it properly. Just talk to us. Talking is free, right, have a conversation, chances are. The biggest issue is an infrastructure issue and you don't know. Either you don't know how to build the thing or you just don't, aren't connected to the right people, or you need to take your ideas from 80,000 feet down to what do I do tomorrow? That's it, and we don't want to buy your business. We want you to be successful on your own and we'll help everybody do these things.

Speaker 2:

That's right. That's right. I love it. Well, this has been great, don. I appreciate it. Thank you, I enjoyed it. Oh, thank you, I really enjoyed it. Yeah, tell people how they reach out, how do they find the business hub, how do they get involved in what you're doing? I mean, you know, with this particular program, with the bank, how do they, how do they get?

Speaker 3:

started, which is biz access hub. So it's B I, z, access A, c, c, e, s, s hubcom and that will get you to us. There's a con, you know. Connect with me, send me an email. I want more information or you can. My email is parks D five at NKU dot edu. My phone number every phone number that's on the website comes to my personal cell phone oh so um, you won't be going to some strange answering machine, it comes right to me so there's eight, five, nine.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it all rolls to me, okay. Four, four, eight, eight, eight, oh two okay, rolls to me.

Speaker 3:

Oh, I love it. Don oh, um, yeah, it's really great. So you know, and a lot of times I'm not the right person and I'm not gonna I'm not gonna try to convince you to work with me. Times I'm not the right person and I'm not going to, I'm not going to try to convince you to work with me. If I'm not the right person, I will find you the person. Yes, yes.

Speaker 2:

So guys, quit being down in the dumps and thinking that you know the world's over, and quit being a victim to, to the ups and downs of the economy and the business cycles. You know things are. Things are not as great as they were right now, as they were a few years ago. Recession proof your business.

Speaker 2:

Recession proof your business, that's another thing to help people with, because every business goes through ups and downs and they go through business cycles. I mean even my business advertising big companies that you know we work with. Sometimes they bring advertising in-house there's. They go through the cycle where they're like, oh, we're going to hire a bunch of people, and then they're like, oh, we hired too many people. And then they come back and they work with consultants like me. So I even have ups and downs, right, and how do I recession proof that? Right, well, don't work with just all big companies. Work with medium sized companies. Work with small companies. Right, those guys are always looking to do something website, they need a logo, they need any of this kind of stuff. They come to me, I can help them out. Right, I'm not going to be like, oh, I only want to work with Kroger, I only want to work with these other guys, and that's the type of that's a type of person who comes to you guys.

Speaker 3:

Right, that can help these businesses as well, and then I say I don't do websites, but Adam does. Yeah, let me introduce you to Adam. This is the kind of stuff he does. Do you like the way?

Speaker 2:

that sounds and I'm like sorry, don, like, oh, I only work with Kroger.

Speaker 3:

Like no, I'm not going to say that. Then I would say don't work with Adam. Yeah, Because Adam only works with companies like Kroger. So we're going to go find you a small a company that works with companies that are your size or your type.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, look, I want to recession-proof my business. I don't just work with big companies, I'm working with the small guys too. I'm giving them a break because I want to see them successful too Good, and I know I can help them. And I think a lot of other consultants in Northern Kentucky that you work with are probably feeling the same way. They're willing to discount their programs or they're willing to discount whatever service that they offer because they think the same way. They want to give back in a different way, maybe not necessarily. You know the companies that are going to donate money here. Maybe they're not a big bank, but they might just be a service provider that has, you know, has some time on their hands, wants to help, and you know they've got some altruism and running through their veins there and they want to help companies out.

Speaker 3:

They want to call this person. I got somebody who's ready and needs that service right now, which is who hands you hot leads like that.

Speaker 2:

When I'll tell you, don, most of my clients that started out as little clients eventually introduced me to big clients. So my connection to Kroger, my connection to a lot of these big companies that we work with, didn't start out me going to Kroger and responding to an RFP. It started out as me working with this little PR company and the PR company introducing me to someone inside of Kroger that needed something done at the time and then that blossomed into more work. So you know, don't throw you know everything away just because you think they're not in your in your world. So but I do appreciate it, dawn, and uh, you're awesome.

Speaker 3:

Well, thank you, I really appreciate it being on the podcast.

Speaker 2:

I can't believe they found you and uh got you at NKU. But uh they are. I'm sure they know what they've got.

Speaker 3:

I think so, I think so, but thanks so much, I appreciate it.

Speaker 2:

Yes, Thanks, Dawn. Thanks for joining us on this week's episode of Side Hustle City. Well, you've heard from our guests. Now let's hear from you. Join our community on Facebook, Side Hustle City. It's a group where people share ideas, share their inspirational stories and motivate each other to be successful and turn their side hustle into their main hustle. We'll see you there and we'll see you next week on the show. Thank you.

Small Business Growth Strategies and Support
Building a Business Alliance for Success
(Cont.) Building a Business Alliance for Success
Navigating Product Development and Innovation
Small Business Influence and Innovation
Helping Companies Scale With Technology
(Cont.) Helping Companies Scale With Technology
Supporting Small Business Growth and Success
Small Business Growth and Success