In this video, Patrick Smith, Head of Small Business Banking at Santander, leads a panel discussion on the ongoing shifts in the small business landscape and the changing nature of the entrepreneurial experience. Gain leadership tips from experienced industry professionals and learn how embracing technology, sustainability, and inclusion can position your business for success moving into 2022 and beyond.
All right. Good afternoon, everyone. How are you? Thank you for joining this afternoon on what I know will be a great discussion on how the future of small business can be reimagined through entrepreneurship and technology. I'm your host , Patrick Smith, I'm the head of small business banking at Santander bank. At Santander, we provide nearly 150,000 small business clients with products, services and advice to meet their financial needs. And those needs are changing rapidly, to say the least. Today, the world of entrepreneurship looks a lot different than it did two years ago, the American dream of starting and succeeding in business is being met with new challenges. And that's where Santander and our three panelists I'm joined today can help. This group of amazing people are reinventing the future of entrepreneurship in the small business community in Boston through education, innovation, and relationship building. So let me introduce him to you now. First is done. 11, co founder of Kira calm, the largest professional online child network, and currently the CEO of the Arthur blank School of entrepreneurial leadership at boss at Babson College. Secondly, is the Hello there, Donna. Secondly, is is Daniel adanya. He's the president of the innovation studio where they create collaboration sessions to help entrepreneurs connect in order to successfully launch and grow a business Hello, Daniel. And then there's there's Nia grace, the proprietor of one of our favorite places in Boston DeRose, kitchen and bar, a great spot in Boston, South Boston south and lived as in Southern Comfort food. Thank you all for joining us today. We're so thrilled to have you and I'm looking forward to the conversation. So with that, why don't we just jump right in. I'll start us off by talking about the new age. I'd like to start us off I'm sorry about talking about the new age of entrepreneurship, with technology adoption accelerating. And industries, like financial services being disrupted by new and innovative companies. Those who lead those companies are a new breed of entrepreneurs. Donna, I found a quote by you that said that you don't have to be the person that tries to go off and solve all the problems. You can be the person that helps people who want to go out and solve all those all those problems. With that statement in mind, what is the new entrepreneurship look like? What are the new entrepreneur look like?
Absolutely. And it's so that statement tied back honestly, to my own decision to move from corporate america and being part of a throwing my hat in the ring and doing another startup? to figure it out? How do we support other entrepreneurs, and that new breed of entrepreneur also thinks long and deep about how they're supporting an ecosystem. And I think of it in a few different ways. So you mentioned the use of technology. Those new entrepreneurs take technology technology for given so they can really focus on that core thing they really want to solve. And leverage technology is a wrap around everything from their digital presence to their logistics, to accelerate their entrance into the market, and keep their costs down. And I mentioned that they're already thinking on helping others, these new breed of entrepreneurs, they're always thinking about how can I lift as I rise, and they're willing to create a community around themselves, and to help others who are trying and giving them access to their networks. And they're creating companies also that tuck into an existing value chain. So not everyone goes into it thinking I have to go and disrupt the market or disrupt the industry. It's more of how can I add value to the industry. And then lastly, I think of our young people today, and all of us, especially with the rise of the gig economy, and people are serious hustlers. And so no longer is it. I'm gonna have to necessarily leave my day job to make this happen. Many of those new breed of entrepreneurs, they have been added 2345 years, and before they decide to make the move, and do their new company full time.
Right. So they're kind of testing it out a little bit before stepping out full time. Yes, so Daniel, the innovation studio at the university, do you envision a world in which anyone can be an innovator? What does the new entrepreneur look like to you?
Thank you, Patrick. That's a great question. And it's something we ask ourselves every single day. I believe they're all around us. They're the cancer survivor that found a healthcare disparity for women of color. They're the high school student that developed the smart ring that we imagined female safety. They're the engineering alumni looking to meet a co founder with a business background. And they are the neighborhood storefront that needs a digital transformation, to engage the post pandemic customers. So in essence, they're they're everywhere. They're your neighbors, they're our colleagues. And I love what Donna said about they've been working on these solutions are these ideas for a while. And I think the pandemic in the world we live in today has really brought that opportunity out. And they're they're asking themselves, why can I do this? And where do I start? And how do I get this going?
Yeah, so is what so one of the things that's really sort of, yeah, what do you think are the biggest factors that are kind of contribute to the changes that you're seeing in this mindset that, that the new entrepreneurs have adopted?
Yeah, I think at a time marked by the disruption of the pandemic, and when when there is dramatically increased, you know, attention on issues of racial justice, innovation studios, doubling down on our mission is to significantly increase the diversity of innovation community, by meeting entrepreneurs and innovators where they are, through our programs in spaces like the Roxbury Innovation Center, in Union Square and district Hall, and how we are going to be able to build bridges to other locations in New England and otherwise.
Yeah, that's amazing. And what are the what types of problems are people trying to solve at the innovation studio?
Sure, that's great. Yeah, I mean, I mentioned that the founder of you know, the cancer survivor, so Diane Austin, is the founder and CEO of coil celox. She's the cancer survivor that discovered a healthcare disparity for women of color when she lost her hair, and was looking for a wig prescription that matched her Afro textured hair, which sounds reasonable, but the solution and experience was less than satisfying, and thus close locks was born. And over the past two years, since we've met her and work with her, she's made significant traction, and we've helped her meet with other experts that really are driving her solution to the forefront to be more relevant for people that need that solution.
Yeah, that's awesome. I like that. And yeah, as a restaurant owner, you know, almost better than anyone that relationships matter. And networking is is absolutely critical in growing your business. But now we're in a world of digital interactions, zoom calls, they work very well. Ai Driven Life Choices, etc. for businesses, businesses that rely on personal relationship building. How can they embrace the new digital ways we interact in order to be successful?
Nick, Nick, can you hear me? Okay. Can you guys hear me? Yep. All right. Okay. All right. I'm not sure Nia can hear me.
All right. Well, we'll, we'll get back to you with that question in a second. I'm really interested to hear, hear your perspective there. You know, you know, Daniel, the innovation studio is built on community connections. Can you discuss the challenges you see, when someone who's starting a new business today? But with someone who's you know, starting a new business today? And how to overcome them? What are the the things that they need to, you know, new, newly sort of mentored entrepreneurs, what startups need to do in order to be able to get a fast start?
Yeah, great question. Yes, I mean, I think in person connections are still and will continue to be a major focus for us. But what we found is that the pandemic accelerated and removed key barriers of access to our programs, and, and connecting people, you know, travel and commuting to our spaces at the end of the workday, daycare challenges for moms, etc, or parents for that matter. You know, all of those things have now been collapsed. And we are now able to serve. And it's allowed us to serve a new generation of innovators near and far to seek out these new path towards building generational wealth. And the key for us is really meeting them where they're at, if they thought of this idea a week ago, and they want to have a conversation with us, we're ready to discuss that if they as as Donna said, they've been talking about it or doing it for two or three years. But having taken those additional steps, then we're here to have that conversation and get them connected into the ecosystem, to really drive that to the next level, whatever that level may be. And we work with everyone To make that happen, all the different partners in the ecosystem?
Yeah, no, I think I think that's, that's incredibly important as being, you know, sort of more integrated into the community of builders and innovators and entrepreneurs, you know, for, for both pragmatic reasons in terms of sharing ideas and finding talent, but also for I'm sure, there's some support built in there as well. Well, let me let me see if I can go back. Nia, can you hear me now? Can you?
Yes, I can.
Okay, got it. Well, well, well, good. Um, there was a there's a question I really wanted to get your perspective on as a, as someone who works in a business, that that's very much centered on, you know, human interaction, and direct contact and relationships. Yeah, I'm curious at that, you know, in a business like yours, you know, that relies on these personal relationships? How can What advice would you give entrepreneurs, business owners to as to how they can embrace this new sort of digital environment that we're in with virtual interactions supplanting you largely supplanting in person interactions? What what what are some, some some tips that you would give for being successful in this context?
You know, we got to acknowledge the fact that to your point, the media matters, and in our line of business, and taking, you know, flavorful food and live music, that's something that's best done in person, and I thank you for being a fan too. And to that end, you know, a large part of our business models tend to center around how we're going to deliver that product to our clients. And, you know, I think that regardless of the changing landscape, as well as the service models, we have to, you know, understand that one thing is consistent about relationship building, and that's authenticity. You know, so what I say is remember to keep your authentic voice You know, so if it's a big spirit of colorful presentation, loud flavors, and, and music, you know, you got to keep that same energy, because that's what the customer wants. So you know, kind of, regardless of the medium as you start to consider the different digital platforms that you can use to cultivate your base, you have to ask yourself, How can technology help me better serve my customer? You know, they already liked what I have to offer, but how can I better serve my customer. And that's where I like to say, you know, insert the QR code in 1994, the Japanese automotive industry innovation that saw brief us social digital popularity in 2009, to 2011 SARS most epic comeback and 2020. And I'd like to personally acknowledge that the restaurant industry, I think, did for QR codes, what supermarkets and big box retailers did for UPC barcodes, you know, qR equals quick response. And with our QR codes, we are telling our customers that their time matters, that convenience matters and that meeting them where they are matter, as you know, also echo here. And so with that , I've taken on the position and others and encouraged them to engage in that new bow and vintage method of , you know, increasing their value in the markets, please, I like traditional mediums I love postcards, I think it's something that is you know, really special. And I'll sign my postcards and put those in the to go bags and you know, as a stamp and that to go back on that postcard, it's actually a QR code, further connecting you digitally to the rest of our brand, right? So I took that, that that old, and I took that new and I made it work now.
Yeah, I am. I love that. And I agree with your point, I think whoever is in charge of character, which should be sending royalties to restaurant owners, because they've definitely helped accelerate the adoption of that technology. Well, you know, I tell you the other thing I like about what you said is I think it's you know, whenever you move into you know, as abruptly and as jarring Lee as we did into sort of a new environment, a new context is easy to see the things that are detrimental about and I love your account your point about hey, let's there's ways to use technology in new and inventive ways to accentuate, you know, the core client experience that we're trying to create. So I love that I think that's a great sort of a mindset around this sort of, you know, leveraging the benefits and advantages of some of these things, even though it presents challenges in other ways. Donna, you know, I was actually intrigued to learn that you are a that you have a coding background. You You started doing all that. Prior to Uber ease. You were sort of Uber Eats one dot o r o dot one, maybe you had a business where you deliver pizza to your friends who were up all night coding. So you consistently found solutions, you know, for the workplace. And now you empower students to find their own solutions to the world's, you know, really biggest and most challenging problems. What's the role of technology and in the future of workplace solutions?
I think so. First of all, Thanks that I just have to comment that I loved me his comment about the authentic voice and that Daniel will take a call for anyone who wants to talk about their idea and really get moving. We need those more now than ever. And technology, the way it was just explained by me so beautifully on the comeback of the QR code. And we all realized very quickly, and for those of us who were not comfortable technology, how comfortable we very quickly got moving everything online, ordering stuff, the pandemic has made us reimagine the way we work the way we live, you know, the way we eat, and there's no going back. And so all of that data you keep hearing about the jobs of the future, you know, haven't actually been defined yet. Um, it's true. So technology will play a critical role. And I think we're going to realize that we can adopt to those new technologies even faster than before. Yeah, yes. But I hope you're probably seeing that in your industry, too. And in your workplace, I think there was this survey that said, if we asked people to go back into the office, you know, 60 to 70%, that they would leave their job. And so now there's an expectation that we're going to go figure out how to run meetings hybrid, there's an expectation that we're going to have to figure out that flex when everyone's not in the same place at the same time. And that we're going to figure out for those of us who it is all about connections, where maybe we would hop on a plane and fly across the country for a meeting, to figure out that we're going to have to get comfortable making those connections without wasting the field or the time of us flying back and forth across the country and figuring out how to still get those deals done.
Yeah, no, I think that's that's absolutely right. And you're right, we are seeing it in at Santander and in banking, I think writ large, and you're right, I think the the genies out of the bottle, there's no going back to the whole normal, the brave new world is here to stay. Well, you know, so you know, we, we live in a in a time where there is, you know, I think rightfully lots of awareness, and it feels like lots of momentum around climate change and doing something about it. And, and sustainability, how important is sustainability to the students in your school?
It is, it's non negotiable. And it was in a room and I won't date us. So if you know how old I think we might be, let's just say this, very boldly stated to this roomful of 50 plus year olds, you're not going to be here in 35 years. I am. And, and that's why, you know, you got to listen to me take it serious, and we have to do something about it now. And you know, our students get upset, everywhere, even sort of my middle school gets upset if you go someplace, and someone actually hands you a straw without asking if you want a straw. So the focus on sustainability is core and can be a competitive advantage. We actually just revamped our undergraduate curriculum to make sure that integrated sustainability was part of every single course regardless of discipline, because that's actually what it's going to take for the world. And that's what our young people young being classified as anyone under 50. And that's what they're thinking about. And that's what they're demanding.
Yeah, I think you're absolutely right. We've seen you know, sort of echoes of that there's, there's you know, there's there's a lot of demand for it, there's a there's a lot of, you know, sort of insistence that you know, that we do something and there's an urgency It feels like behind behind the demands and that students and younger folks are making. So that's, that's kind of the students, how should businesses view sustainable practices?
Yeah. And go back to, you know, I was having one conversation with someone said, well, sustainability is always more expensive. So you should think about it that way. And I, you know, I beg to differ. And I was talking to someone who runs one of the largest toy manufacturers in Spain. And she is explaining in the story of how hard it was to get the parts that they needed during the pandemic. So they had to move to recyclable products, they realized that they saved a ton of money, they, you know, had better outcomes for the environment. And they were able to meet their customer demands, instead of there are so many different ways where that focus on sustainability can lower your cost of goods, where it can even just lower your overall overhead. And if you start to think about it in new and different ways, and again, it's also something that your customers cared deeply about. So all of those efforts that you're doing, you know, you should tell them and was used to be surprised. Rising back in the days when we could still go to hotels, if there was a little thing saying, hey, let us know if you don't want us to, you know, change the sheets on your bed. Now, if someone is doing any of those behaviors all the time, you're going to get complaints that people are going to ask, why are you doing those things? So you should tell them and celebrate what you're doing for the environment, how you're thinking about it, how you're being intentional, and how they can help, because there's no silver bullet. It's gonna be a series of things. And everybody wants to know what you're dealing and, and how can you make that part of your competitive advantage?
Yeah, no, it's a it's a great point. I mean, you really, you know, businesses do need to have an answer, they need to have have a perspective on what they are doing in meaningful ways to advance the cause here. Daniel, what, what some of the technology you've seen at the innovation studio, that sort of closes the gap between customer's needs, and, you know, businesses services, and how they, they're able to address those needs?
Yeah, great, great question. Yeah, I mean, when COVID forced the small businesses into lockdown, many legacy small businesses did not have the systems in place to reach and interact with new and existing customers. We developed the program last year, as a result of that, it's called the relaunch program, it's it's a focus on rethinking, refreshing and reimagining the business, right, and providing the framework to rebuild small businesses from the ground up, really developing operating and marketing strategies to offer new products and services, well, reaching more customers, you know, some needed new POS systems that, you know, were razor edge, leading edge aspects and some needed to learn how to use the latest and newest social media channels to stay connected and offer new incentives and to grow revenue and engagement. And I think, you know, the advent of the QR code has done a, you know, stated coming back and, and you have people who are now going into almost any type of business that has now become comfortable using that. And it's really reflected in more engagement, right. And there's new data being captured from that by businesses that are now leading them to really interact and engage with customers in such a different ways. So I think those are the things that we need to double down on. Right. And we're looking into how do we do that? How do we connect the experts, to those small businesses, and typically the experts are the other small businesses that we've engaged with, to help and support other small businesses that need to learn that and put those in place right away?
Yeah , yeah, no, that's great. So like, almost like peer to peer networking and, and, and sort of mutual support? Yes, I think that kind of goes back to your point about, you know, what you guys do in terms of introducing new entrepreneurs into the community of builders and founders, and entrepreneurs, this is fantastic. What technology is available to help the restaurant industry returned to prominence
as the first POS system, so point of sale systems such as toast or touchbistro, and square, there are differences that work for various sized enterprises, I'll say that I am a total customer. And one of the things that keeps me there is because of the enhanced features that they have, it's an adaptive and intuitive point of sale. So online ordering, digital payments, real time reporting. And most recently taught, toasts even fact led the packed with financial technology in terms of being able to help fund the revitalization restaurant revitalization fund. So for anyone that was a toast customer, you were able to pull your sales from, you know, real time they were able to see and vet those sales, which is really hard for the restaurant industry, typically under three years in the business, you have no solid restaurant revenue, and it's still a risky business. And so toast being able to partner in that way and then also offer loans outside of that, for capital for growth. That's key and clutch systems like reservations and event database. I was just telling someone recently again, that you know, one of my favorite restaurants in the city due to the pandemic finally started taking reservations. And you know, it seems like a simple accommodation. And you've got reasons for taking them and not taking them. But it was one of those things that you just had to adapt with the climate as well as what the need of the customer was and again, kind of going back to meeting them where they are. And so you've met the customer where they are but now on the back end are also you know making a more informed and organized operation. We are dealing with a workforce that is fairly new, who do not know the nuances is a, you know, reservations and people management. And these kind of systems allow you to see how many times someone visits, you know, see what their birthday is allow you to, you know, really cater to their individual and unique visits with, you know, birthday celebrations etc. So I kind of live and die by our reservation system here at deros. In addition to that, digital ordering, and payments that have been come something where we are lacking the amount of staff that we typically need to run an operation on a full service level, if we usually need 10 servers, we are down to about four, the ability to allow people to look at a QR code or from their table or even simply just make that final payment, where we're not able to get into that last interaction and you know, and also not hold them hostage waiting for a server to pay their bill has been something that is you know, clutch and it works for me too. I'm on the I'm on the receiving end of it, you know, I actually first saw it out at a restaurant and I was like, wait, I can make this payment from home, right? I mean, like for my table right now, and I love it. And so something that we also offer here, I can't say enough about third party audit aggregators. If you are going to get into the grub hub, personal online ordering, Uber Eats game, the thing that you know is that there's going to be an issue with the labor of actually putting those orders in once they come to your system if they're not integrated. And then there's also going to be an issue with accuracy. So third party audit aggregators, like otter, or ordermark, that take all the orders, feed it to your POS system seamlessly, and make sure that it's readable to your kitchen in your operations, I found that we're especially clutch during the last year. One more thing I'll say, in terms of the technology is scheduling and personnel management like systems like that we are also industry, nine times out of 10 if you don't see a clipboard, some paper and a marker, and a restaurant, you may not be in restaurants. And so to that, that's even our schedules. But one of the things that is is kind of adopting that technology years ago, I had to realize that with a younger workforce, who immediately goes to their phones, you know, probably as soon as they wake up in the morning, the best way for me to reach them was in that medium and so programs like hotschedules that allow you to push schedules to their phone, add it to their calendar, communicate via text message, which is their medium of communication have made it much more efficient operations here for us and people like me just got to get on board.
Well, I mean, it's amazing to hear you describe all the technical sophistication behind the scenes, it's a it's remarkable and I'll tell you I can personally bear witness to how effectively you're using this to create really personalized client experience because every time I come to do is it feels like I'm just coming back to a really familiar familiar place and it just feels like you know, kind of coming back home so you guys have done a great job you know, the other thing is, you know for you is that you also have found the black Boston hospitality coalition. And you helped to lead a successful effort early this year to encourage Boston diners to eat more at black owned restaurants through an initiative called Blue Boston black restaurant month I participated in that it was it was fantastic. How could initiatives like this one set up our future minority business leaders for success
you know, out the gate initiatives like the Boston black restaurant, they they highlight under recommend that under recognized businesses just you know, so in terms of giving them a new platform to share in the services that they have to offer and the product that is it's a wide consumer market, we're serving food, right you know, that is something that we all can relate to. And so platforms that just say hey, you know, let's let's step outside of your comfort zone and participate in an event like this. It just shows it just shines a light on underrepresented community. But what also it does, it shows it proves the power of collaborative marketing. Separately, you know, a lot of us may not have the marketing dollars that are require some businesses to really take off and launch. But collectively, you know, shining, you know a lot on each other, we're able to grow and really harness marketing power in that way. And then to me, it creates additional unique earning opportunities. But Boston black restaurant month has been focused around, you know, months that are typically slow in the restaurant industry. And that is an opportunity for us to do a special for us to engage a new customer and a different way to try something. And so for us, again, it creates new earning opportunities.
Yeah, no, I love that I think and the more of those earning opportunities I'm sure the better for for businesses, of any size and Certainly smaller businesses that are really trying to, to make sure that they, they're able to stay stay solvent. Another one for you is that, and this is sort of a sobering one, according to 2018, American Community Survey, non minority man, which is, you know, just a polite way of saying white men are twice as likely to be self employed as minority men and women until down as female. In essence, when you Donna, as an educator, how do you open up accessibility to educational resources to budding business owners in underserved communities?
Absolutely. So just in this conversation on that, you know, I don't know any of us expected that answer from Nia on all of the technology that is that she's bringing to bear to make her business hum. So when we think about accessibility, and also as an educator, I think about how early can you actually go in the pipeline. And so if we go back and think about during the pandemic, the digital divide that we quickly realized, because we have places in the Commonwealth, where people can access all of that technology, they can't get internet access, you know, their Wi Fi service. So one to close that digital divide. Or to start to address this issue of access, we need to really start with the basics. And that is basic and fundamental. And the second one, I love the animation studio, because there is a skills gap. But it's not just about skills. So programs that can meet you where you're at. So either they're online, or they're in your community, and they can provide sort of specialized and affinity groups. And that's critical. We have something similar that we do for black women entrepreneurs who are looking to scale their businesses, because we think it's so important. We've talked about the importance of networks. But I think we should, you know, put an engaged in front of those networks. It's beautiful at the innovation studio, that they're bringing back small businesses who are willing to help other small businesses, sometimes, particularly in communities of color, we can get plugged into networks. But if the network that we get plugged into isn't engaged and responsive, it's not helpful. And so I'll give you the sense, there is a place for ally ship and support. Yes, it is absolutely needed. But we need more CO conspirators in those networks to really start to address this gap. And there's so much focus on on sort of what's going on in the venture world, and the dismal numbers. And they're still dismal. I know people are working on it. But we can all acknowledge they're still dismal when it talks about investing, and founders who are going after these massive scalability, scalable businesses, and really starting to look at that data. But we need to look at all aspects of that funding cap line, and that gap. So I love what you're doing at sandtown deer. But the reality is, is that if we're still making decisions on small businesses based on their net worth, when we know the challenges, particularly from the data from the globe, about the net worth and you know, just in the city of Boston's alone when it comes to black and brown communities, and that becomes an artificial barrier. And the I love the example about what toast is doing. Because we new new ways of thinking about credit worthiness, when we move forward to also help sort of close that funding gap. And I think education at its core. And mainly one of the reasons that the Arthur and Blaine school for entre leadership was created is because we have to continuously figure out how are we providing an education and content that meets our learners where they're at, at a price point that they can actually afford? And so again, not a silver bullet, but we have to really move all of those components for if we want to seriously address this gap.
Yeah, yeah, that's a it's a it's a fabulous point. It's a it's not a, it's gonna be a multifactorial answer, right? Because there are myriad sort of barriers and challenges, and you have to really attack all of them at once. You know, I look, you know, two points you made specifically that I just really resonate with me. One is, you know, having engaged networks because I think there's a lot of emphasis on networking. But you know, the point of the network is to activate that network in order to help you get something done. And so I think that engagement is, is key is key. It's almost, you know, if you had to choose, you'd rather choose a highly engaged smaller network than that unless a larger one. Yeah. And I think the point is, and this is something we think about a lot in Santa Clara, because it's part of our commitment to make sure that we're safe serving broadly all the needs in our communities, and we're opening up pathways To historically underserved communities, and that is to not engage in practices that even inadvertently just perpetuate historical disparities. And I think you could easily sort of fall into that trap of you just use conventional thinking to solve problems that really require creative thinking. So those are, those are great points. Thank you.
And we thank you for doing that. We need others to follow suit. And to do that assessment to look at their practices. I live right outside of Boston, and a program that was designed or the hope for was going to sort of close the gap when they looked at the data, it did not. And I think and, you know, programs like yours, one, first of all, having this session is fantastic. And really, we need to acknowledge and figure out how can we inspire others to do the same work? It's fantastic.
Yeah, no, I agree. I think one of the things that inspires me about, you know, the job I get to do serving small businesses is, is how adaptive small businesses are. And I think we've seen that just, you know, just in an exceptional ways over the last 18 months or so, and, and it's incumbent upon us to sort of, you know, show demonstrate a little bit of that adaptiveness, and the way that we, we think about serving the needs of small businesses or small businesses in the community. Okay, so I have a final question that I really want to present it to the three of you, because it's an important question around, that sort of cuts to the heart of small business success. So our audience is currently in leadership roles, or aspire to be in those positions in the future. As we bring our conversation to a close, I'd like to get each of your thoughts on one key resource or key piece of advice, a pearl of wisdom, if you will, that will help other aspiring business leaders, as they sort of proceed down their their path and on their journey. And then maybe we'll start with you.
Sure, thank you better. And thank you, Donna, for the the points that you made about access and opportunity. You're so right on with that and love to partner with you and any others that to make that happen and bring that to an engage level. You know, in terms of the question that Patrick asked about leadership, everyone will tell you to listen to your customers, right? I mean, you hear that all the time. And I know Nia Nia, probably listen to this a lot. But I say more importantly, listen to your team, they are the ones that are in the trenches that will understand the problem the best. And you need to ensure a safe space for them to bring these unique solutions to you. And make sure they have a playbook to execute. You know, I have a really strong and long operations background, you know, date into my years back at Apple. And what I learned there is that if you don't, you can, you can have the best product, the best marketing in the world. But if you can't execute and understand where you need to be with, with customers to drive that, it's it's going to be really tough to stay in business. And I love what Nia said about the back end in these, these are things that every business has to understand. And many businesses falter there and it makes their job a lot harder to keep customers and engage them. So I would say listen to your to your team. And I think you will, you will advance a lot faster on your business and the work you want to do to meet those objectives, far sooner than just listen to your customers alone.
Yeah, that's a fabulous point. Fabulous, fine, ado, how about you?
Well, I got to echo it, definitely listen to your team. And just to add to it, they in fact, are our first customer. So that's one thing I kind of talked about too. But To that end, when I think about being a leader in the entrepreneurial space, I have to say you've got to embrace collaboration and partnerships as a means for strategic growth. As a solo entrepreneur, for me collaboration, it's hard. It can be some times when you're building it yourself and by yourself. I like to say you get selfish, right, you know, you get self reliant, sometimes self sacrificing self sabotaging. And I'm encouraging folks to be a little bit self less, right, get get out of your own way. And so to that end, build a team, take on advisors, align yourself with brands who share in your culture and your passions and your destination. And to me, that's been one of the greatest ways for me to grow. I got out of my own way.
No, that's advice I should I can take myself. I think that's a that is great. That is great advice. And I think it kind of goes back to the you know, having being part of a community and in one that's engaged and and really co invested in your success data. How about you?
Alright, so this one, I I think maybe slightly controversial, because I imagine at some point in our lives, we were told we were not the center of the universe, probably as a small child asking for something. And I tell students all the time for your venture, you are actually the center of the universe. And part of being the center of that universe is there has to be a real strong focus on self. To get started, you need to understand your values. We talked about your authentic voice, sort of what's that true north that you want as you move forward, because it influences everything, unless you understand your strengths, and where you need to solve for some of your blind spots. Again, it can be self sabotaging your the way that your values, they're going to influence how you build your team, they're going to influence the culture you create, they're going to influence how you interface with your customers. And it's going to interface on your strategy as this company that you're building. Is this your company that you're building, because you want to build generational wealth for your family? Is this a company that you're building, because you want to have an impact in your community? All those things, and those decisions really start with you. And they're going to influence your strategy, and they're going to influence your source of funding. So you can tell whoever's ever telling you you're not the center of the universe, I said, you're at the center of the universe, yourself, or your venture? And my mother's not watching this go on. Okay.
Yeah. No, I think it is wonderful. It is wonderful advice isn't, and I think your point about, you know, really understanding what your motivations are. Because I think you're right into I can't help but have a pervasive influence on the way you make decisions. And, you know, hold on to the other things that you do. So no, thank you. I love that. That's wonderful. And we'll we won't, we won't tell you. Let me let me let me conclude by by maybe thanking our guests, this has been a wonderful discussion, by the way, I've really enjoyed being able to spend time with with all of you and, and I think the perspective, the hard earned wisdom that you guys have brought to the table, you know, I'm hoping that I'm sure it's going to be, you know, a real, you know, real opportunity for folks in the audience to take away some some things that they can use tangibly and pragmatically in their business. So thank you guys for for doing that. And more importantly, thank you for all the work that you do in your day jobs. You know, Donna Levin, CEO of the Arthur blank School of entrepreneurial leadership at Babson Thank you, Daniel adanya, President of innovation CEOs, thank you for all the work that you guys are doing in helping to cultivate the next generation of small business owners and entrepreneurs. And he agrees and I would say, she's the proprietor at dear old kitchen and bar and if you have not been to Carol's kitchen bar, if you're looking for a great place for some great food, and some really good jazz music, I would strongly recommend that you do so that's my, my, yep, my Yelp endorsement. Um, but they think all of you, and you know, what, sort of, you know, leave on this note, I think we've discussed a lot of specific things that you guys have given advice on, you know, around leadership around technology, but the thing that I'm actually taking away from this more than anything else is, you know, this going back to the spirit of how adaptable you know, that that small businesses are ne ne in your case, and you guys have been how sophisticated that small businesses have been without anybody noticing or recognizing it in terms of adopting new ways and new new forms of technology to operate their businesses. And just you know, continue to sort of, you know, figure out new ways to be successful and and then the last thing I think, is this, you know, sort of Daniels point, I think in Danny's point about, you know, building community around yourself, which I think is is always important. And so, thank you guys, for all of those all those words of wisdom and all the all that insight. We really appreciate it and we hope that you you continue to have success.