Whether at the co-working space above his family’s Apple partner store Database or at networking events like 1 Million Cups, entrepreneur Philip Baird is entrenched in the small-business community.
2018 Projection: With technology lowering costs, more people will jump on the self-employment bandwagon.
SBJ: How would you describe the small-business climate?
Baird: Small businesses are everywhere you look. From small side hustles to more formal established entities, they’re everywhere and I don’t anticipate this changing.
SBJ: What are keywords to describe where small business is heading?
Baird: Evolving. Necessary. Unpredictable. In 2018, more people will be tasked with creating their own job or “promotion” by starting their own business.
We’re really in a day and age where people are making their own jobs by starting their own companies, because barriers to entry are so low. With that, you lose a lot of the safety net, you a lose lot of the health insurance – which is a big thing right now – you lose any sort of consistency.
SBJ: What will be most disruptive to the industry in 2018?
Baird: I’m curious to see how the tax overhaul affects all businesses, small and large. There’s a lot to be said about the safety net that exists when working for a larger, more established company. If we see more lucrative positions become available within larger companies, small-business owners might be more likely to wind down their own business and fill those positions within larger companies.
The idea is that it’s going to free up capital for companies to maybe open up new positions, new business development roles, strategy roles, (research and development) roles – things like that.
But I think a lot of entrepreneurs feel underappreciated in bigger roles. A lot of small-business owners, they’ve grown accustomed to that way of life, because of the culture and flexibility of managing their own schedule.
SBJ: What are the weakest and strongest components of small business locally?
Baird: Springfield has recently been highlighted as a top community for starting a business. While this is great on the surface, you’ll notice an underlying theme in these articles is the lower cost of living in Springfield. This can also be interpreted as lower-paying jobs.
Many people leave this community – or avoid moving to it – because they can find more innovative, desirable, higher-paying positions elsewhere. I also know many business owners who have struggled finding self-motivated people who are eager to learn and work hard. So they are having to outsource their work.
SBJ: What are the imminent challenges?
Baird: Mindsets. In most cases I’ve been exposed to, small-business owners get punched in the mouth more often than they experience success.
The question is how do they adapt. Instead of making excuses for failures, they should instead take ownership and pivot to avoid the same mistake. Excuses kill small businesses.
Another mindset that can kill a small-business owner is thinking you can do it all yourself. Spoiler alert – you can’t. Get others involved in anyway you can.
SBJ: What is a game-changer you see for small businesses?
Baird: The barrier to entry for starting and running a small business is disappearing. Tools necessary for efficiently and effectively running a small business – like QuickBooks Online, Google Voice, MailChimp and Salesforce – are getting cheaper and cheaper, and many are free.
SBJ: What trends are on the horizon?
Baird: I don’t anticipate you’ll see the uprising of small businesses die down anytime soon.
In fact, I anticipate you’ll see more and more entrepreneurs launch and run multiple businesses at a time.
SBJ: What is Springfield doing right and what is it doing wrong?
Baird: When I moved back to Springfield from Kansas City four years ago, I was concerned about how the community was embracing entrepreneurship. I was motived by how many entities exist here – like Springfield Creatives, 1 Million Cups and The eFactory – that are truly designed to help small businesses succeed. Springfield is a tight-knit community, which is good and bad.
What I kind of struggle with is going to these events and seeing the same people at all these events. That’s a good thing because these relationships become richer. But at the same time, to me it’s motivating to always be meeting and exposed to new people, groups and organizations.
Evangel University senior Abby Voelker became a first-time business owner; a Springfield Public Schools venture got a new home; and Branson-based The Robbins Group moved.
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