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.
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).
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!