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survey – Arlington Entrepreneurs

Who’s an Arlington Entrepreneur?

arlington entrepreneurs logo
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

We Asked. You Answered. Here’s What You Said.

We asked and you answered. Thank you! Your replies have given us some great insights into our community’s needs and wants. Many thanks go out to the Arlington Entrepreneurs Advisory Board, who so strongly advocated for this basic bit of research. So, what did we find out? Here’s an overview:

  1. Most people participate in Arlington Entrepreneurs by reading the email newsletter (69%) and attending events (40%).
  2. Most people get information about Arlington Entrepreneurs by reading the email newsletter (91%) or finding it on Facebook (26%).
  3. Most members expressed similar preferences when it came to the type of event they’d like. Interestingly enough, the category “brainstorming/masterminding” was the category leader (68%) with social events like happy hours and coffee breaks, straight networking and educational/training types equally divided at 62% of respondents. One respondent also added “addressing non-profit issues” to the list.
  4. Date and time preferences were unexpected, at least to Margy. Most of you expressed the greatest interest in attending events in the 12-2 time slot. Thursday was a big hit, as was Wednesday. Time/date preferences were fairly consistent. The big change was the preference in the day of the week. Some folks even opted for Saturday and Sunday, although not a lot. Interesting!
  5. Here were the winners of the topics questions:
    1. Business operations: The majority of you want information about and/or help with  running your businesses. We’ll be ever so happy to oblige! Help with time management techniques and legal help were right behind. After that it was work-life balance, staying healthy and financial management. Trailing the pack were help with setting up a new business and crowdfunding/other ways of raising money.
    2. Sales and Marketing: The big winner was social media marketing, followed by traditional, offline marketing. Sales strategies and writing/editing help for newsletters, etc. were of less interest to the respondents.
    3. Technology. SEO (search engine optimization) walked off with the gold! Not far behind it was knowing which tech tools would be most useful to your businesses. We’ll be putting our computer geeks to work on these and other issues, like general computer and website maintenance. A few of you would also like help setting up a new website.

A sampling of some charts are copied below. Unfortunately, I can’t download a copy of the survey without paying for a monthly subscription. Hopefully, these charts will do!

Finally, we were all delighted with the fact that so many of you are willing to volunteer to help Arlington Entrepreneurs (63% of all respondents). It’s humbling to know that so many of you find us important enough to offer us your hard-earned time.

Thank you again for your feedback. We always welcome your suggestions and advice. No one person knows everything and this survey really brought home the adage: “two heads are better than one.”

Survey charts (blue: would like to learn more about; green: would like help with)

chart with business interests
Business Interests

 

sales and marketing chart
Sales and Marketing Needs

 

technology needs chart
Technology Needs

See a topic that interests you? Or, do you want to set a time to view the entire survey? Do you have something to offer? Do you need/want something else besides what’s listed here? Let us know. We’re here to help meet your needs. Your ongoing input will help us do just that.

 

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