June 7, 2017
Meet the stars of SBR – Malcolm McRoberts of Deluxe
In our “Meet the stars of SBR” series, we highlight the individuals behind the scenes of the Small Business Revolution and interview them to learn more about their experience working with business owners across the nation and why small businesses are essential.
Meet Malcolm McRoberts, president of Small Business Services at Deluxe. In that role, he has the opportunity to oversee all of the small business marketing efforts the Deluxe team completes for the businesses featured on the Small Business Revolution. We caught up with Malcolm to learn more about the importance of small businesses, how he is continually inspired from the Small Business Revolution, and exciting events coming in Season 2.
Tell us a little bit about your role on the Small Business Revolution team.
As the leader of the Small Business Services team at Deluxe my role is to make sure that the right people are engaged from within our team to make sure that we provide the best advice and products to these businesses and to show to all of our customers just how important marketing is to small businesses.
This year, I was also lucky enough to spend a chunk of time in Bristol Borough helping to choose the six businesses that are ultimately featured within Series 2. Not only was it a privilege and an honor to interview the 20 business owners and determine which six would become the businesses we worked with extensively, but it was also great fun! Getting down from the 115 businesses who were nominated down to the final 20 was hard enough. To get from that 20 to 6? That was next to impossible! Every business we met with was incredible, the people, their stories and their sheer desire to make a difference. In the end we could have chosen any of them, but we had to ask ourselves two basic questions 1) “can we make a difference here?’ and 2) “will this business continue to thrive without our help?” In the end, I like the six we selected.
What has been most inspiring or surprising about the series for you?
The stories that people have shared have just been amazingly moving. In fact the word I use most often to describe the experience is “humbling.” One business owner, during that very first discussion we had, shared her personal struggles with addiction and how owning her own business is helping to save her. Another business owner shared his cancer diagnosis and how it led him to open a business. For the small businesses featured in the Main Street series, their business isn’t just a place they go everyday. It is their life, their passion, their reason for getting up every day! It’s not often you get the opportunity to be able to share inspiring stories like these with more people than just in their community.
Why is it so important to support small businesses?
Small businesses really are the lifeblood of our economy. Whether it is Wabash, Indiana, Bristol Borough or any of the other 15,000 plus small towns in America, when small businesses are thriving in their downtown community, it brings in other small businesses and it creates a community. When these businesses band together we see growth. Interestingly enough, when we were recently back in Wabash we saw that a new micro-brew had opened downtown. It’s part of a small chain with a few locations in Indiana, and the owners came to Wabash after seeing the stories in the Small Business Revolution. They saw how the community had come together and how they were supporting their small businesses and it inspired them to open their next location in Wabash, a town of around 10,000 people. We see new businesses already opening in Bristol because they won the SBR contest. That is great momentum that will lead to even bigger things for Bristol once the series comes out in October.
What’s one thing small business owners need before starting their own business?
Okay, I’m going to chose 2 things.
1) they need to have a ‘why’, a dream, a clear statement in their mind as to what they are going to do and why and then they need to put it into words that their customers would understand and
2) they need to turn that into a plan. The idea on it’s own is not enough , if you haven’t thought about what or where you will focus, then you can get off track. We have seen that with the businesses we have worked with in Bristol: What are you offering to the public? For example, if you own a restaurant, what type of restaurant are you? How do you want to differentiate from other restaraunts? What do you feature? What type of cuisine do you have? Or do you just like to cook. There is a difference between a small business and a hobby. Where do you see your customers coming from? How will they find you? Knowing if you need to connect with your customers on social media, through advertising, through word-of-mouth or web traffic is essential. People won’t come to your place of business just because YOU love what you do. Your CUSTOMERS have to love what you do.
There is a lot to think about, but write it down, talk it through and continually revisit it.
What’s one way of measuring success when owning a small business?
It always depends on the person. For some business owners it will be a sense of giving back to the community. For others it will be being able to take care of their family. For small business owners, success is a business that provides an income for the owner and can grow each year. We always tell small business owners, you have to pay yourself first. At first, it doesn’t have to be a lot and maybe you won’t get rich right away, but understanding that this is a business and a job rolled into one is important. Success will come if you remember to take care of yourself.
What are some of the most interesting business problems you’ve worked on?
There are so many. One thing that keeps happening is that business owners are not truly taking into account their overall costs. For example, we have worked with a business in Bristol that wants to price its service low so people with lesser incomes can afford it. That’s great and it is admirable, but when we asked them if they are considering their overall costs, they haven’t.
The other thing that comes up, and we talked about it above, is that many small business owners only look at their world through their eyes. So they talk about their product or their service as they see it. But the thing you have to do is tell your story so that your customer’s understand it. We know you are enthusiastic, but it’s the customers that count.
What excites you about Season 2 of the “Small Business Revolution”?
The business owners in Bristol are so excited to be part of this process, and our team is excited to help them. The stories are amazing and the people inspiring. Being able to highlight and help this great community and the business owners – not only the six that we chose but the entire main street – is something that we don’t take for granted. I can’t wait to share their stories.