It’s tough to launch and run a business. Especially if you’re a new entrepreneur. “Small business owners often lack the resources of large companies, don’t have advisors or sounding boards, and often lack the experience,” says Gary Bizzo, CEO for Bizzo Management Group and COO for Kickstart Business Catalyst. Gary has 40 years of experience as an entrepreneur and is a certified business counselor. He recently checked in with us to share his insight on the most common challenges small business owners face and how they can make smarter business decisions.
Why are you so passionate about helping small business owners?
I have been fortunate in my life and feel the need to “pay it forward.” I enjoy mentoring and working with the energy young entrepreneurs give me.
What are the most common mistakes you see small business owners making when it comes to growing their business?
- Lack of planning i.e. business plan
- Clear goals for the future
- Enough resources to implement their plan
- Don’t have the necessary skill sets to grow
- Trying to do it alone
What advice on being better leaders do you find yourself repeating to clients over and over again?
- Surround yourself with two to three volunteer advisors
- Set out clear goals
- Surround yourself with good employees
- Have someone to share ideas with
- Budget the resources for a coach or mentor
What are good habits small business owners should get into to grow leaders within their business?
- Define roles in the business
- Celebrate people in your business who work outside the box, i.e. reward initiative
- Allow yourself to delegate
- Provide employee improvement education or retreats
What bad habits do you see leaders getting into in this regard?
- Most small business leaders try to do it all by themselves.
- They often fail to set a good work/life balance.
- A lot of small business owners hire people based on price, not value, thinking saving money is paramount.
- Many leaders micro-manage; I believe in a Results Only Work Environment.
Why is mentorship so important to leadership?
Guidance/advice is one of the best resources a leader can access. Being able to get a second opinion, brainstorm an idea and rethink an option can save time and money and even “save face” in some situations.
Where should small business owners look for mentors? How will they know if the relationship is a good fit?
Many leaders will realize when they need a mentor. Leaders cannot lead in a vacuum and the business owner must be open to the possibility of accepting help. I like to say, “Will you let your business die rather than asking for help?” It is important for the leader to understand the role of the mentor. A coach, counselor and consultant are very different from the role of a mentor. A mentor is a learning and development partnership between someone with vast experience and someone who wants to learn.
Feeling the need for a mentor can be looked at from many areas: gender, industry specific, or a specific need of the leader, e.g .finance, marketing, etc. It is always based on advice from someone with vast knowledge of the subject or issues. I think mentors can be found among your peers who have experienced the relationship of a good mentor. Since it is all about the relationship, it is best to find a mentor through personal networks. The connection must flow well from both sides, and both mentor and leader must feel there is a match.