"Entrepreneurship is an addiction, but it's a healthy one," said David Bobbitt, the president of the SCORE Foundation and vice president of development at the SCORE Association.
Nine simple words summed up the passion in the room at Infusionsoft's inaugural Main Street Forum. Here we were, a panel of executives with a deep interest in the small-business market, gathered in one place to illuminate and tackle the challenges small-business owners face.
What we learned were five ways that small business businesses can overcome their biggest challenges and start thriving:
1. You define success
There's no easy definition of "small business" anymore. Technology has enabled more people to start a business outside of their day jobs and mold them to meet their needs.
"I owned my own business on the side and then made it a full-fledged business because I had an ailing parent," said Eric Mason, the director of strategic marketing communications and small-business and technology evangelist at Wix.com. "By some stats, that business failed when I got away from it, but that was by choice."
The point is that countless new businesses these days start and stop. Entrepreneurs should be OK with the fact that there's no single way to define what it means to have a successful small business.
2. Get creative with capital
Funding is always a huge challenge for business startups and they often rely on friends and family for capital. However, the funding model for small business is changing.
For example, consider OnDeck.com. James Hobson, the chief operating officer at OnDeck, says that small businesses can get a loan from his company in 10 minutes with less paperwork pain than traditional banks. Sometimes it creates nervous skepticism among their clients, but that's why customer support is so important.
"They stare at the checkout button, click to get the loan, and then call us right away," Hobson said. "Because of the power of technology and data, we can be very specific in the products we offer, and that's very valuable to small businesses because everyone is different."