Jeff Schrag is no stranger to the small-business scene. In addition to founding and owning Mother’s Brewing Co. and serving as a mentor at the Efactory, he runs a nationwide cufflink wholesale business and publishes legal notices in The Daily Events.
2020 Projection: Springfield’s small-business economy won’t experience significant growth in 2020, but it is a healthy place for a youthful workforce.
SBJ: Are there any major changes that will affect Springfield’s small-business owners in 2020?
Schrag: I think there’s just a lot of things that make people hold their breath. The major increase in the minimum wage that Missouri gets hit with on Jan. 1 is going to be interesting. Just depending on who you talk to, it’s a real positive thing for people or it’s not a real positive thing.
There are always businesses that don’t want to pay minimum wage, they want to pay above minimum wage. And when that wage goes up, then they feel compelled to follow suit. Again, it may be a fabulous thing, but I just don’t know what’s going to happen.
SBJ: What are the current threats and opportunities in the small-business economy?
Schrag: The biggest threat to small-business growth is people not caring about buying locally, and people buying online when they could be supporting local businesses. I believe our biggest opportunity is a youthful workforce. We have an opportunity to choose to be a great place to live. If we are known as a welcoming city and offer opportunity to everyone regardless of their race, sexual orientation or religion, that’s an enormous opportunity for us to become more diverse.
SBJ: How would you describe the current economic landscape for small businesses in Springfield?
Schrag: I love Springfield, Missouri, and I am bullish about our town’s long-term prospects. But I don’t see it growing beyond the current rate of growth next year. The good thing is that Springfield has had healthy growth. So growth pausing doesn’t mean zero, it just means that it’s not accelerating.
SBJ: What markets have room for growth?
Schrag: People are always looking for electrical, plumbing, HVAC. I think there is a great deal of stability in those businesses that should not be overlooked.
SBJ: Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs wanting to turn a side hustle into a business in 2020?
Schrag: My best advice is to figure out more than one revenue source. When I have gotten into trouble, it’s because there has just been the one revenue source. And if that’s the wrong one or it’s not as good as you think or it becomes complicated, the more revenue sources you have, the better chance you’re going to figure it out.
Anybody with above-average intelligence and focus and the ability to work can make a business work if they have enough time to figure out where the profitability actually is.
SBJ: What changes will small-business owners need to make to keep up with consumer demands?
Schrag: Using the beer industry as an example, consumers are getting savvier and there is more good beer out there, which makes it harder for people that don’t produce good beer. So my advice is to sharpen your game and improve your product. It is always difficult to figure out exactly who you are and to stick with who you are because the world pulls you in so many different directions, and the rate of pull is probably increasing. Try to stay true to who you are, as there is a natural tendency to try to be too many things to too many people.
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