Event Focuses on Small Business Success

By Steve Dinnen

Wealthy people rarely start that way – Fidelity Investments calculates that 88% of millionaires are self-made. And their businesses start small – Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Bill Gates (Microsoft) launched their respective empires out of garages.

But you’ve got to start somewhere, right? And it helps to get a boost, which is the idea behind the Small Business Success Summit, which will be March 11 at the FFA Center at DMACC’s Ankeny campus. This daylong event, organized by the Greater Des Moines Partnership, will put business owners and managers face to face with successful entrepreneurs and advisers who can give them guidance on how to develop strategies to assess operational efficiencies and better leverage technology. They’ll also talk about key performance indicators, benchmarking and strategic growth. There will be 16 breakout sessions during the day, covering nuts and bolts issues such as hiring and retaining talent and best account practices.

In a bow to the current business climate, the summit will discuss motivation of staff and contractors post-COVID. Dani Smid of the BrownWinick law firm also will discuss legal implications for a remote workforce, which appears to be settling in as the norm rather than a temporary patch to COVID-inspired disruptions of the workplace. (There also could be tax implications to employees, mainly, of having them work from offices in their homes.)

This isn’t meant to be a primer for start-ups, said Christina Moffatt (pictured), director of small business development for the Partnership. “Most of our businesses are up and running,” she said. Past attendees have been both owners and employees of firms, which tend to be service-based with mixes of retailing and professional services.

The breakout sessions will wrap around a keynote address from Nick Sarillo, founder of Nick’s Pizza & Pub. His Chicago-area restaurants are both small – just two outlets – and large; they are one of the top 10 busiest independent pizza companies in per-store sales in the United States. Margins are nearly twice that of the average pizza restaurant.

Perhaps as a backup to Sarillo, the Fidelity study pointed to these attributes to finding fame and fortune in an entrepreneur’s chosen endeavor:

  • They set ambitious goals and act on them.
  • They have mentors. They tap the best minds.
  • They look for feedback. Self-improvement never stops.
  • They are not afraid of failure. You can learn from failure.

For the summit’s schedule and more details, check the Partnership’s website.

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