While it’s clear that the pandemic has changed the way we work – both in and out of the office – it’s unclear how each city and its entrepreneurs have adapted to the changes.
According to a survey of 275 small business owners in Atlanta, 50% responded that their main source of income has changed. Twenty percent of those respondents cited that their side hustle has now become their main hustle and primary source of income.
With that in mind, the pandemic pushed many entrepreneurs who were on the brink of committing fully to their business over the edge.
The good news? It’s working out. Three out of five respondents have reported an increase in their income since 2019. They’re also enjoying life as a small business owner, citing flexibility, increased control and the ability to work from anywhere as key perks.
Running the day-to-day comes with some unavoidable baggage, and many of Atlanta’s entrepreneurs don’t seem ready to offload any of it just yet.
According to the survey, the top two downsides to small business ownership include increased stress and the act of paying quarterly self-reported taxes. However, most small business owners don’t seek financial advice or support – 39% don’t use any accounting software and more broadly, 27% don’t rely on anyone for business advice (40% rely on friends and family).
Forecasting for the future
What does this mean? Given the volatile market we’ve witnessed and experienced for nearly two years, most Atlanta small business owners aren’t equipped to forecast for the future. While many (50%) rely on their local community to network and seek out customers, they have no external professional guidance on how to moderate cash flow, address seasonality and peak season repercussions, and pivot to alternate streams of revenue.
This, in turn, will create a clear gap between those who have sought financial counsel to increase their business acumen, and those who have not – particularly as Atlanta (and the rest of the world) continues to adapt to the new normal and get back on its feet.
Embracing a new mindset could be key for small businesses as they continue to recover, acclimate, and position themselves for success. While many small business owners wear multiple hats and employ a ‘do it yourself’ mentality, adopting a ‘do it together’ approach by partnering with a trusted advisor like an accountant or bookkeeper can help them gain a competitive edge.
“Many entrepreneurs who are self-funded and have a small team can get caught up in the whirlwind of running a business and can forget about positioning themselves for growth and scale,” said Rashida Gayle, Atlanta-based Founder and CEO of Twenty Six Entertainment, who turned a downsize in the middle of the pandemic into an opportunity to launch her new company. For Rashida, strategically positioning herself around a strong team with expertise in accounting, legal, social media and more, is the key to the success, sustainability and growth of her business.
Getting help to navigate uncertain waters
As small businesses continue to navigate these uncertain times, planning for different scenarios, tracking benchmarks and evaluating business performance is critical – and made more doable with the help of a reliable advisor, whose experience and insights can be invaluable. Small businesses should view themselves as sponges, soaking in as much guidance and advice as they can.
“New business formation spiked in 2021 and entrepreneurs want to know how to run their business successfully from the start,” Rashida adds. “As a business owner, knowing your strengths and weaknesses are key so you can position yourself around the right people to help you strategize, grow, and fuel further business success.”