“Take a break and step out of your business,” he said. “Get another set of eyes to look at it.”
That’s the idea behind WESST, a development and training organization for small businesses in New Mexico. Similar programs are available in other states.
WESST provides one-on-one consultation with business owners to help identify and solve problems. For example, a common mistake owners make is that they over spend and under plan in their first year.
“They think starting with enough working capital will see them through the trials and tribulations,” Reecer said. “But what happens is that owners often throw money at problems until it’s gone.”
He advises clients to take the time to do a business plan. That means using customer research and creating a marketing plan. He also helps them create financial projections and a budget that outlines exactly where they need to spend their money and how much it will cost.
“Most businesses that take the time to plan upfront, have a shot at success,” he said.
Women business owners account for 64 percent of WESST clients. Fifty-three percent are minority owned. One of the barriers these groups face is access to capital. Research shows they have a higher chance of being denied for a traditional loan. Or they’re more likely to receive higher interest rates and less favorable repayment terms when approved.
That’s why the WESST Loan Program does things differently.
As an SBA Microlender, WESST grants smaller loans with fewer barriers to entry than traditional commercial debt. They also base their decisions on more than credit scores alone. Past performance and future potential are critical factors too. Owners that receive and repay microloans develop a more favorable credit history. That often helps them secure larger traditional loans in the future.
WESST also provides group training programs. Workshops and webinars are offered on a variety of topics. Many focus on technology.
“More people start their shopping online using search engines and social media,” Reecer said. “So if you don’t have a Web presence, you’re at a significant disadvantage, especially with mobile shoppers.”
WESST offers training in search engine optimization (SEO), social media optimization (SMO) and other web-based tools. They also help businesses market themselves on social sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
While WESST serves the New Mexico area, there are similar organizations in almost every state. Consult the map on the SBA website to locate programs in your area. Many of these programs are offered at little or no cost.
These may include a SCORE chapter, Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), Veteran’s Business Outreach Center, as well as other Women’s Business Centers like WESST.
Running a small business is challenging. That’s why it’s important to have another set of eyes looking at it. Programs like WESST can help your small business solve problems and grow.
“If you’re dedicated to the process and you put in the hard work to create your own success,” Reecer said, “you can have the business you want.”