As president and CEO of MVPwork LLC, Becky A. Davis’ one goal is to help as many small businesses stay up long after they start up. The stats are against start-ups–nearly 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years. But Davis and her company, MVPwork, aim to change that. She advises upstarts on how to maneuver the tricky journey of succeeding with a new business.
“I saw a huge need for small businesses needing leadership development training. America is built on small businesses and over 200,000 have gone out of business since 2008,” explains Davis, who left corporate America to start MVPwork, a business designed to help companies develop leadership skills and discover tools and resources needed to grow their businesses consistently. “Businesses don’t fail, leaders do. My business is to help entrepreneurs stay up long after they start up by coaching and consulting with small businesses.”
Starting her own business, Davis herself had to pave her way as well. “I planned my exit strategy three years before I left my job so I saved over a year’s salary and I was learning and getting certifications before leaving my job. I funded most of my business while I was still working,” says Davis, who was former regional vice president for Luxottica, one of the world’s largest global optical retail companies.
Starting MVPwork, she overcame hurdles. “I learned a lot before launching but you learn as you go. It’s an obstacle when no one knows who you are. I learned that networking was not enough; I had to get involved,” she says. “I realized that when I volunteer at association meetings, more and more people start to know you and help you with referrals. I had to start building my community of small business owners. Just showing up and meeting a few people is not enough. Get involved and it will pay off for your business.”
One of the mistakes new businesses make is not having enough capital to remain up and running for the first few years. “It’s possible to start a business with little to no money but you cannot maintain a business with little to no money,” Davis points out. She advises not only preparing for the initial start up, but for the years ahead. “Save some money or get funding if you really want to start a business,” she offers. “Research is necessary. You need to know what others who have the same kind of business are doing. Research everything it will take to make your business successful. Too many people start a business and do not have a written strategic business plan with specific action steps. Either their plan is in their head or written very vaguely. You must prepare to be successful.”
Another thing many entrepreneurs overlook when starting up is manpower. Yeah, you can have a great idea but you need to have people who share your vision to get up and running. And you have to lead them along the way. “Leading and managing people is a huge opportunity for my clients. Most entrepreneurs start a business because of a product they love or a passion they have but few understand the “people (leadership) side” of business and its one of the most critical parts of a successful business,” she explains. “They have mediocre employees who lose them money or vendor partners that provide poor service which becomes a reflection of their business. Several of my clients are uncomfortable with confrontation with poor performing employees. I help my clients see how they are losing profits by not addressing those employees and I guide and coach them to have those conversations.”