Small Business Outlook: Plan or Be Planned For!

Camera Box owners, Tammy and Geoff, are big on small business! We truly believe it’s the backbone of our country! We’re delighted to have an interview with a business consultant who can shed light the life

Kathy Snavely
Kathy Snavely

of a small business. The following is an interview with Kathy Snavely, Owner of Lightkeeper Consulting.

It is said that small businesses are the backbone of our country. What are your thoughts on this statement?

We are the social fabric of our communities; the service clubs to which we belong raise money for charities at home.  Many of us serve in public offices.  And our country was built on entrepreneurial know-how and work ethic.  We work in the communities that we live in; and we have a responsibility to lead and enrich.  We have to live by our core competencies, pay our bills on time, create relationships with the custo

mers we serve – and if we fail at our objectives, we no longer have our businesses.  No bailout monies for us.  We must live by our own graces.  We can take nothing for granted.  And we’ve got to keep our eye on the horizon, keep our perspective, or risk getting knocked out of the game.  There’s no entitlement in small business.

What is your experience consulting with small businesses?

Entrepreneurs like doing things themselves, which is a blessing and sometimes a curse.  Sometimes, we don’t ask for help when it’s readily available.  And like all humans, denial in recognizing where we are in our environment can be strong.  Creative, resourceful leadership is imperative.  And strategic alliances with other businesses that share our target market who are not our competitors can be a powerful tool.  W

e cannot afford to make big mistakes – just one can kill us.  Knowing who you are, what your gifts are and how to manage them takes time.  And if you don’t like rejection, don’t own a business.  Every no means I’m one step closer to yes, if my feet are grounded in reality.

Where do you see the future of small businesses going in this economy?

Only the strong – or the very “lucky” – will survive.  I still see some businesses that seem to survive only by the grace of God: there is no other explanation for why they’re still alive.  While I believe God’s grace is a very good resource, it isn’t all we should live by….  We’re going to have to get more creative, more resourceful, and take advantage of all the technology at our fingertips.  Like many others, I firmly believe social media is a great tool that we are uniquely positioned to handle efficiently – because of our closeness to our clients.  There is a massive amount of information we can use to strongly position ourselves; we need to move out of survival mode.  I’m seeing too much of this, in spite of knowing that businesses that market through a recession come out 287% of those that don’t 18 months after a recession has concluded.

What are your thoughts about small businesses in Central Pennsylvania?

We need to plan/position ourselves better in what looks like an uncertain future.  Although we’ve heard through reliable resources that the recession is over, most of us are not seeing the evidence of it.  We can wait, and risk being further victimized OR get, as the Pennsylvania Dutch say, our schoolhouses on and figure out how we make progress in spite of an environment that discourages it.  My favorite quote, by Russell Ackoff, is “plan or be planned for.”  I’d rather plan, thank you.

Are you a small business owner? What are your thoughts about the future of small business in the mid-state?