Happy Small Business Week! Each year, we celebrate the local families, sole entrepreneurs, and growing organizations who took a chance in the small business world. These men and women who show up day after day, even when things get tough, are the heart and soul of our economy. It’s been a tough year for everyone, especially small businesses. Yet, these incredible folks never gave up, and their communities were often the first to remind them how much they are valued. In my years as a small business owner, I too have experienced this rollercoaster of twists and turns. In honor of Small Business Week, I’ve reflected on the most pressing questions I ask myself every single day to keep myself motivated, inspired and reaching higher.
How can I support upcoming businesses?
The truth is, this is the stuff that really excites and energizes me. What’s better than helping someone in a big or small way to get them one step closer to their dream? Nothing!
Some of my recent initiatives have prioritized helping women and minorities as they take the plunge into entrepreneurship. I am a proud steering committee member for The Ohio River Valley Experience, which challenges experienced owners to explore new leadership opportunities and sustainable companies that benefit their community through economic growth and job creation. It is so fun to get with beginning and seasoned women in leadership and every interaction leaves me bursting with inspiration!
Looking ahead, I’m working on a new endeavor that creates opportunities for small business owners entering the technology field to receive the education, funding and networking to support success. It’s incredibly important to me to help increase diversity in our field, so I am super excited to share more about this project with you in the coming months! In the meantime, if you’re a small, diverse business owner in the technology sector, don’t hesitate to shoot me a message on LinkedIn.
What do my clients need from me right now?
What do my clients need? How can I help solve their problem? What is keeping them up at night that I could alleviate? While these thoughts are always in the front of my mind, I find that if I simply make a conscious, consistent commitment to simply ask my clients what they need most, they are more than willing to share their perspective with me. Cummins Facility Services is the size it is today because of our clients asking us to expand to more communities, regions and states. It is always our goal to be accessible to them. So, quite often, we go where they go!
The question of ‘what do my clients need’ goes beyond new locations. Over the years, I’ve received a lot of emails and phone calls asking for a service or solution that many times, we didn’t currently offer. However, my answer for my clients is always an enthusiastic ‘YES’! If they need it, we can figure out a way to make it happen. This approach has led to our many endeavors, including Facility Genius. It all started with a ‘yes’ and figuring out how to provide a new solution to meet our clients’ needs.
How can I empower employees and inspire entrepreneurs?
One of the most wonderful things about my job is the opportunity to mentor so many incredible people. Whether that be my employees or a community member who wants to turn an idea into action, I live and breathe for the opportunity to encourage. The early phases of an entrepreneurial career can be thankless, tiring and depleting. Sometimes, helping an entrepreneur get over those initial hurdles means simply reminding them that it is worth it, they are doing what it takes, and they will have success. Taking time to connect with people, offer a perspective from a new lens, and motivate them when their energy tank is running low is a fundamental duty of leadership.
For my employees, this means constantly reviewing how we as an organization can better support them in their work. How can we help our teams be more strategic on the job? How can we do a better job of connecting with them when they’re in the field? How can we take the application, interview and on-the-job experience to a standout level? While employees are performing tasks in their respective departments, it is the sense of purpose and pride they feel in their roles and their careers that can take their daily work from ordinary to outstanding. As leaders, we can never stop questioning how we can better support the incredible people on our teams who are the rock stars of our companies every single day.
As we celebrate small business week, I encourage you, wherever you are in your journey, to take one more step toward success today. If you’re a community member, support a local business and tell them how much you value them. If you’re an entrepreneur, ask an established owner about how they made it happen. And, if you’re on the other side of the startup, enjoying your much deserved success, I encourage you to help another aspiring leader to rise one step higher in their journey to the top.
Happy Small Business Week!
Jill Frey, President & CEO
Cummins Facility Services, LLC