How the Small Business Majority Can Help Your Startup

Mary Overbey didn’t realize just how many resources and professionals were available to small business owners when she and her husband, Eric, decided to turn their side jobs into a full-time business. Now as the Missouri outreach manager for the national organization Small Business Majority (smallbusinessmajority.org, 417-872-9924), Overbey helps entrepreneurs who are just starting out get their companies up and running.

Biz 417: What does Small Business Majority do? 
Mary Overbey: We host a lot of free events, like webinars and in-person presentations, that anyone can come to and learn from, and we connect small businesses to local experts and resources. If someone goes to me for help and I don’t know the answer, it is my job to reach out and see who does know. We also promote advocacy and policy initiatives so we help small business owners find their voice or make their opinions known about different topics. 

Biz: In your role with Small Business Majority, what kind of topics do you tackle? 
MO: I do a lot with educating small businesses about nontraditional lending sources, retirement security and preparing for the future, how to help employees, health insurance and workplace wellness.

Biz: What is the biggest lesson you learned when you started your very own small business, Meric Landscaping and Lawn? 
MO: I found that there is an enormous amount of resources out there that I didn’t even know about. I did everything myself, from learning about payroll to the administrative tasks, and as I got more involved with the business community, I wish I would have hired professionals or resource organizations to do some of the work or give me advice. It saves a lot of time and money in the long run. 

Biz: How can using resources from Small Business Majority help owners in 417-land? 
MO: By using local resources, experts and educational programming, you’re able to maximize the time you put into your business. Instead of wasting time trying to figure things out, using a resource can save time and create a smoother process. If I had talked to an expert first, I wouldn’t have made so many mistakes. Although learning from them has taught me a lot.

Biz: What makes Small Business Majority different from other business groups? 
MO: We are nonmembership-based, whereas a lot of other organizations are, and we also focus on advocacy. You don’t have to pay a monthly fee to use our resources. Other than that, we have so many phenomenal organizations in Springfield and collaborate with them in order to connect small business owners with the already existing resources. 

Biz: What is one thing you caution entrepreneurs to be aware of when they are just starting out?
MO: Learning the process behind taxes and doing the bookkeeping can be time-consuming. It is a good idea to hire a professional to make sure you are compliant and don’t run into any problems later.

Biz: What do you think is the best way to spread the word about a small business? 
MO: I think word of mouth is the best when starting out, and the best way to do that is going beyond your existing network and meeting as many new people as you can. After that, any publicity like social networking or a mention in a magazine is always helpful and creates a bigger impact.

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