A Know-It-All World

Originally published December 20, 2017 by The Montrose Daily Press

When I became executive director of the Montrose Chamber of Commerce, I was living under the illusion my background and experience would carry me.

To some extent that was true, but then I picked up the phone to call HR, finance, or operations and realized ... I am HR, finance, and operations.

The running joke in our office is, “we must know all things about all things.” While that might not be true, many small business owners, CEOs and nonprofit directors struggle under the pressure of running an organization as though they do know all. And the truth is, none of us do.

Most of the business and leadership failure stories we hear are the result of a lack of knowledge in an important area of the organization. In many cases, the shortcoming is realized too late and irreparable damage has been done. Fortunately, our outlook is not so grim in Montrose. There are many things available locally that are designed for education, assistance and connection of business professionals:

1. Do you have a business plan? Regrettably, businesses operate without a business plan as common practice. A business plan is a good idea because it provides a blueprint of success and forces owners into examining all aspects of their business; not just their areas of expertise. Even if you have been in business many years, formulating a plan will not be time wasted.

No idea where to start? Region 10 offers to consult on business planning and can get you started in the right direction free of charge.

2. Continuing education. Every day our formal education gets farther away in the rearview mirror. Additionally, many of the things we learned about business in years past are no longer relevant. The playbook is ever-changing and in that, so should our knowledge.

Region 10 has many applicable course offerings. Recent course titles have included exciting topics like “Marketing Plan in a Day” and “Pricing Your Work for Freelancers, Contractors, and Others.” The Chamber and City also partner on a business leadership program called “Montrose U” as well as many other business related education events throughout the year.

3. What if you’re looking to start a new business or expand the one you have in Montrose? Over the past five years, the City of Montrose has developed a very strong offering of business incentives and resources. Available incentives address job creation, business expansion, and new business assistance.

As a side note, the city offers a “Montrose Opportunity Fund” which is a micro-lending program through which businesses can obtain up to $20,000 at half-of-prime interest. Funds are intended for the construction or improvement of permanent business structures. The loan program has flexible terms. Region 10, again, is another good resource for small business funding. The city focuses primarily on incentive packages for retail and service-based businesses. Montrose Economic Development Corporation is the area recourse for incentives related to manufacturing.

4. Connecting locally. No business will be successful without relationships. Sometimes meeting the right people at the right time is a challenge. The chamber can be an excellent resource for intentionally connecting people and making specific introductions. In addition, there are many great business events in town where other business people convene. Whether you attend a legislative update with the Chamber’s Government Affairs Council or Heidi’s Forum, make it a point to introduce yourself to at least one person and learn about what they do in the community. These one-by-one efforts are the slow and steady building blocks of a successful business foundation.

The internet is our friend. You can and should find a plethora of helpful and inexpensive resources online. The internet should be a part of your business playbook. However, the Internet will not give you money for creating a new job, it will not spend money inside your business, and as much as you wish it would, it will not provide engaging conversation over coffee. When putting together your business game plan, local resources and connections should get the most play time.

Our local business resources are designed for the business owner, leader or staff member who is interested in helping themselves. If you want these things to work for you, you must put in the work to obtain them and maintain them. Just like the gym; signing up for the membership is the easy part. It is the discipline and commitment of coming back day in and day out that creates success.

Chelsea Rosty is the executive director of the Montrose Chamber of Commerce and director of Business Innovation, City of Montrose. Reach her at chelsea@montrosechamber.com.