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Key takeaways about resilience in today’s climate from the National Small Business Week summit

Posted by Tasnim Ahmed

October 22, 2021    |     4-minute read (628 words)

A score of entrepreneurs and small business owners joined the September 2021 National Small Business Week virtual summit, hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The common theme expressed across the board this year? Resilience. Entrepreneurs, business owners, SBA leaders, lenders and attendees at large exhorted the importance of resilience amid the pandemic.

Among the event’s keynote speakers were Dallas Mavericks owner and “Shark Tank” star Mark Cuban, White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond and World Central Kitchen founder and acclaimed chef Jose Andres. Each addressed how the conditions of the pandemic had pushed the importance of perseverance to the fore. 

Mark Cuban

Cuban’s remarks centered around the premise that even though individual business owners have different philosophies and ways of doing things, they share common traits. One is the agility to face obstacles and not get bogged down by them. Another is good communication, which acts as the glue that holds a business together and conveys purpose to customers, vendors and employees. Enthusiasm for sales is a third aspect underpinning entrepreneurs’ success, Cuban said, and this is accomplished by viewing sales as an opportunity to help someone. If you’re excited about your products, your employees and clients will be too.

In addition to embracing agility, communication and salesmanship, business owners should also be open to the inevitability of change, Cuban continued. Adapting to change is what will ensure success. But more importantly, entrepreneurs should realize they are living what many people consider a dream.  “There are two amazingly unique moments in the life of a small business owner, their first day in business, and every single day when you wake up,” he said.

Cedric Washington

Cedric Richmond, senior White House adviser and director of the Office of Public Engagement, praised the resilience of the SBA and small business owners and highlighted the policies the Biden administration has implemented to help the business community. Richmond called out the landmark Paycheck Protection Program policy and reiterated that it culminated from a bipartisan effort from Congress. He also reminded attendees that the American Rescue Plan aims to help not only large organizations but the many small businesses that form the backbone of the country. 

Jose Andres

In a fireside chat at the event with SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, chef Jose Andres talked about the impact his nonprofit World Central Kitchen has made by providing meals in the wake of natural disasters and his lifelong sense of entrepreneurship. Andres explained how he has come to see adaptation as key to the success for his relief kitchen and that it is needed even with the most detailed of planning. 

Case study: Dandelion Cafe

One of the case studies at the event featured Houston’s Dandelion Cafe, recipient of a PPP loan that owner Sarah Lieberman attributed to the business’s ability to stay on track, keep employees and start work on a new location. “When we had to shut down, I immediately went into survival mode to protect my people and was closely watching the SBA to see what was going to happen to help small businesses,” she said. The café was able to pivot to new ways of doing business, such as no-contact delivery, which helped them become more future and resilient while maintaining their customer base, she added.

PPP recipient Golden Tech Systems

Pushpinder Singh Garcha, CEO and president of North Carolina-based PPP recipient Golden Tech Systems, shared with participants how the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program and Emerging Leaders Initiative had helped his firm get a foothold in government contracting. Golden State Tech recently got a contract with the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army based on the timely assistance of the SBA administration for his state, he said. 

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