Four Ways Small Business Agility is Driving Success


There are few things more exciting to me than being in a room full of entrepreneurs sharing ideas and insights. And that is exactly what I recently got to do as I participated an AT&T roundtable recently with celebrity entrepreneur Bill Rancic in Chicago. Over a delicious dinner at RPM Steaks (owned by Bill and his wife), attendees shared the biggest changes they see and challenges they face. Additionally, we got to take out our crystal balls to predict where we see small business going in the future.

Here are four of my big takeaways from the event.

1. Technology Lowers Barrier to Entry

Solovic and Rancic

Susan Solovic, Bill Rancic

Entrepreneurship is growing in popularity. Some of the attendees referred to it as the “Shark Tank” effect, but it could also be the result of a lower barrier to entry because of technology. Technology makes it easier to start and grow a business today. Resources are readily accessible online – even funding sources. Further, cloud computing solutions give small business owners the opportunity to access sophisticated management programs by paying only for what they use. Access to these tools creates a significant competitive advantage.

2. Mobility Improves Competitiveness

Mobility provides important advantages for small businesses. It gives small business owners the ability to work from anywhere at anytime, so they are no longer tethered to their desks. They can be where their customers are without risking administrative mistakes. No more burning the midnight oil inputting information after being out in the field.

The same is true for their teams. Many of the owners with whom I spoke have virtual teams. Technology platforms allow entrepreneurs to seamlessly coordinate and collaborate with team members around the globe. This opens up a pool of talent for small business owners that was never available to them previously. Access to the right people and talent is critical for a growing company.

3. Social Media Changes Everything

Susan Solovic Adam Toren Anita Campbell

Susan Solovic, Adam Toren, co-founder of; and Anita Campbell, founder and CEO, Small Business Trends.

Social media is helping small businesses build their brands. One attendee told me she attributes her entire business success to Twitter. By using the right hashtags and by tweeting regularly she was able to attract the attention of the right people to get her business off the ground. (During the roundtable, participates were encouraged to tweet using the hastags #PowerofAnd and #Sweepstakes for a chance to win one of a number of great prizes including an LGG5 and a Microsoft Surface Pro.)

On the flip side, social media is also one of the challenges small business owners admit they face. While its benefits are clear, the myriad platforms can be confusing and even overwhelming. It’s difficult to integrate and monitor all the platforms – or sometimes know which ones you should be focusing on.

4. Email is dying

Email has been a primary source of communication for small businesses. However, according to many of the business owners in attendance, it is becoming obsolete. Younger workers and customers prefer texting or Facebook messaging to traditional email. The owner of a wholesale fish distributor said many of his young chef customers place their orders via a Facebook message. Managing that type of communication can be problematic at this early stage, but may become commonplace in the near future.

Susan Solovic, Cathy Martine, Senior Vice President Corporate Business Solutions AT&T

Cathy Martine, Senior Vice President of Corporate Business Solutions, AT&T, and Susan Solovic.

As for texting, that opens a Pandora’s box for small business owners. You’ve seen the controversy caused by the IRS’s lost emails of official Lois Lerner. As a standard operating procedure, businesses – both public and private – are required to preserve all email correspondence. Currently, there is no way to preserve text messages which could have significant legal repercussions for small businesses (and large ones too) down the road.

The bottom line

Despite a somewhat “iffy” economy, small business owners remain generally upbeat about the future. One thing is for certain, change is inevitable, and small business owners have a unique ability to be agile, creative and flexible, which is the essence of AT&T’s Power of And Campaign – be sure to check it out.  And take a look at this video that captures the spirit and purpose of the AT&T roundtable:

Editor’s Note:  This blog is sponsored by AT&T. All thoughts and opinions are my own.