Completing critical business projects is a challenging process, especially for those of with limited time, expertise and cash. While financial capital is one of the best sources of completing projects, don't underestimate the value of social capital.
Relationships are the key to success.
Set yourself up to secure what I call the "services bag" by getting involved with business support organizations, such as a chamber of commerce, incubator and/or accelerators. Services you may be able to tap into include legal and marketing advice, product photography, website setup, access to market research databases and college interns. Through our local Black Chamber of Commerce membership, Get The Bag has been the beneficiary of pro bono marketing and legal advice that would have otherwise cost thousands of dollars. Being a member has been a great investment for us! Having worked in the field of economic development and entrepreneurial support for over 12 years, I've seen many entrepreneurs benefit by establishing positive relationships with key stakeholders in their business community. Some organizations will connect you to experienced business mentors and experts who can help you avoid costly mistakes and help you uncover new income-generating opportunities. Often, these "service bags" are not well promoted or publicized, so you may have to inquire about their availability. I advise that you always do your homework to ensure that you are working with an organization that has a consistent, proven track record of success of serving Black women and diverse business owners. Ask experienced business owners and advisors that you trust for referrals or recommendations. No one has time to waste on ineffective programming and Get The Bag is launching a new service soon to help you tap into a wider universe of business support organizations and resources.
Put in the work, relationships require care and feeding.
Team members and board members of these organizations can put you on the insider fast track to securing grants, loans and/or investments. Remember relationships are a two way street and require nurturing. Taking the time to provide updates on your business, share information, attend ecosystem events and send referrals are fantastic ways to build trust and strengthen connections.
In part two of this series we will discuss tech hacks and services you can use to boost your bag and power-up you profits. Stay tuned!