Who’s an Arlington Entrepreneur?

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All of Us, Together
survey response
Who Are We, Anyway?

Read about volunteer opportunities at the end of this blog post!

Last fall, Arlington Entrepreneurs circulated a Wants and Needs survey to help guide its programming for 2019. We decided to go a bit further than the standard questions we usually asked. This time we wanted to find out who you were – how old you were, how long you’d been in business, etc. We also asked for a listing of your top challenges. The “top challenges” question included services that aren’t offered by AE (at least not yet), like access to social safety net benefits. We wanted to know how (or if) these issues affected you. The results were interesting, to say the least. We’re sharing them with you and welcome your thoughts and comments about the results.

Here’s our overview: The people who answered the survey are overwhelmingly located in Arlington (90%). No surprise there! Most of you work full-time on your buinesses (65%), although 35% of you – about one-third – are part-timers. AE members are older, by an overwhelming majority: 70% of you clocked in at age 50 or older. Perhaps because of this, the majority of you have also worked at your business for five years or more (80%). Another 20% have been in business for one to five years. And, we’re overwhelmingly white (85%), with smaller representation from Asian (5%) and African-American entrepreneurs (5%). Clearly, we have some work to do when it comes to diversity.

We were pleased to see so many successful, long-term businesses. This bucks a national trend, since 80% of new businesses of any size fail within the first year. Running a business in the US is expensive and risky, yet an overwhelming majority of you are still in business at least four years past the predicted national failure date. Kudos, Arlington freelancers!

What are your top challenges? Half of you (55.6%) said it was the lack of financial resources and stability. Another 33% pointed to isolation and the lack of networking opportunities. 22% were challenged by the sheer amount of work required of a solo business. For these, there was no real work-life balance. Another 22% pointed to a lack of technical knowledge and the lack of social safety net benefeits like affordable health care, unemployment, disability, etc.

Getting there…

Finally, we asked you would like if you could “have it all.” Over half of you asked for more networking opportunities (60%). Trailing at a distant second were requests for discounts and other benefits offered by local and national merchants (30%). Other expressed needs were for technical support for websites, apps or other internet products (20%), help with content development (15%). 20% each asked for access to social safety net benefits and help for new businesses.

What’s Arlington Entrepreneurs doing to meet these stated needs? Since, like you, we have a staff of one, we’re moving slowly but steadily. We’ve added two additional networking events: Let’s Do Lunch! and Nero at Night. Since many of you expressed a need for more buiness help, we also decided to integrate a website and marketing overview program that would run during the evening networking event at Caffe Nero in Arlington Center.

Our first such program will be taking place on the last Thursday of this month and will feature the combined services of a software and website developer and SEO expert, Mike Grossman. We’ll also be offering advice for the content portion of your website, to make sure it captures the attention of web visitors. We’ll be looking at how your content (writing, photography, music and more) is laid out on the pages of your site. If you don’t have a call to action on your home page, we’ll give you suggestions for creating one. Content is King. We want to make sure yours rules wisely. (In case any of this sounds familiar, this is the event we had to reschedule from January).

Networking any time of the month or day. Socialize, network and/or learn.

We’ll be rolling out more programs and initiatives as the year progresses. In the meantime, Arlington Entrepreneurs could also use some help, especially in the following areas:

  • Events. Who would be willing to guest host or help Margy out at any of our networking events? It’s a lot for one person to do!
  • Technical support. Our website runs on WordPress and we could definitely use a helping hand to keep our site safe and up to date.
  • Member engagement and outreach. We need to do a better job of increasing our network’s diversity. We also need help engaging the members we already have.

Finally, help us by helping yourself. Come to an Arlington Entrepreneurs event! We have morning, afternoon and evening events. Make a commitent to go out there and network. We’ve made the time and provided the opportunity. The rest is up to you.

In the meantime, lend us a hand by filling out one of these volunteer forms below. Thanks!

Event Volunteer Form

Tech Volunteer Form

Member Engagement Outreach Form

A Letter from Margy (a/k/a your friendly, neighborhood Community Manager)

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margy-rydzynski
C’est Moi!

Happy 2019! I’m looking forward to an energetic and productive year and hope you all experience the same. I took a 10-week business development course last fall via the Center for Women and Enterprise and came away with some great ideas and initiatives, many of which we’ll be implementing this year. I’ll also be incorporating the information gleaned from the survey we sent out late last year. Thanks to all of those who took the time to respond. It really helped give us an idea of what was on your minds.

Working Together in 2019

We have three events coming up, two of which are completely new. Our usual Coffee at Kickstand will be taking place this Thursday at our usual time of 1:00 pm. It’s a very popular event at a very popular time. As a result, we’re getting seriously squeezed out and I’ve started looking around for a larger venue.

As luck would have it, a colleague of mine (Debra Woog, of Polka Dot Powerhouse and a former AE Advisory Board member) recommended a new restaurant in East Arlington, Town Tavern. She described the place as very welcoming and open to groups who wanted to get together. They also have dedicated event space and internet access (attention, event planners!). I gave the owner a call and was treated to a delicious lunch (on the house) and given the grand tour. I was hooked! Town Tavern has the room and the food to satisfy the most or least hungry among us, with plenty of room to sit and mingle.

town-tavern
Let’s Do Lunch!

Arlington Entrepreneurs is hosting a new networking series at Town Tavern in February, “Let’s Do Lunch!” This is an experiment, to see how people who are currently crowded around our table at Kickstand like Town Tavern. It will also get us out of Arlington Center and into other parts of the town. Interested? Feel free to RSVP for first lunch together in February.

Want Some Training with Your Coffee?

Some survey respondents indicated that they wanted more evening events. I’ve also been thinking about incorporating more substantive material into our coffee get-togethers. The end result is another new networking series called “Nights at Nero – Network and Learn.” We’ll be getting together at Caffe Nero in Arlington Center on the last Thursday evening of each month, starting at 6:30 pm on January 31. The cafe is open until 9 pm so food and drink will be on-hand. We’re also going to be incorporating a new feature: individual consultations on a number of topics of interest to our self-employed entrepreneurs.

nights-at-nero
Network…or Just Work!

Our first consultants will be offering a Website Checkup, conducted by Mike Grossman and Lauren Stakutis of Strategic Adrenaline. Lauren will be reviewing your website’s overall design and content. Mike will be looking at things from the standpoint of SEO (search engine optimization) and will suggest ways of organizing your site so that it attracts the attention of search engines like Google. You’ll go home with new tactics and skills that you can immediately apply to your business. We have seven slots of 10-15 minutes each open for anyone who’d like to have their website looked over for purposes of marketing, content and search engine optimization. There will be a fee of $25.00 per person for the consultation, plus the cost of admission to the event ($5.00). Remember: if you’re an AE Premium  member, your $5.00 admission fee is waived!

Interested? Visit our Eventbrite page for more information and to RSVP. Space is limited so don’t wait! As soon as we’ve reached an optimum number of people for the Checkup, we’ll contact you individually to get things going before the event begins.

That’s all for now. Thanks for taking the time to read through this letter. Things will be hopping in 2019. We’ll keep you posted!

Sincerely,
Margy Rydzynski, Founder and Community Manager, Arlington Entrepreneurs

RSVP for Coffee at Kickstand: https://coffee-kickstand-january.eventbrite.com

RSVP for Nights at Nero: https://nero-2019.eventbrite.com

RSVP for Let’s Do Lunch: https://lunchtowntavern-2019.eventbrite.com

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