September 20, 2017
Meet the stars of SBR – Robert Herjavec
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 Robert Herjavec.
Tell us a little bit about your role on the Small Business Revolution series.
Deluxe approached me a few years ago to be part of their 100th anniversary project where they told 100 small business stories. I was included in a documentary about the power of small businesses and how they helped bring our economy back from the 2007-08 downturn. It was this project with Deluxe and Amanda Brinkman, brought light and energy to Small Business Revolution.
Entreprenuership is what America is made of and what the Small Business Revoution stands for! So, when Amanda explained the effort, I was on board! – I’m always up for an adventure!
We would head into small towns and learn about the businesses and community, always challenging them to think differently about the business. – Putting the passion aside and listening to what their cash flow and balance statements have to say can be really tough. I learn about the enterpenuers, their business and their market. We work together to find ways to run their business more efficiently and work with Amanda, and the team at Deluxe, to improve on their marketing strategy.
I’m an entrepreneur and I just love being able to challenge people to think differently about what they do without loosing their vision.
What has been most inspiring or surprising about the series for you?
Every entrepreneur we have met in these small businesses, in Wabash and now in Bristol Borough, have one thing in common – Passion.
On “Shark Tank,” I see entrepreneurs who have the drive and desire to take their business to the next level. Working with Amanda and Deluxe is different.
These small businesses on Main Street are sometimes just trying to survive. – But that passion is just as strong as the ones I see on Shark Tank.
In one episode on Main Street this year, one of the business owners of Hems Truck and Auto kept telling me she is a psych major so she doesn’t know how to run a small business. But she has been running this business for 10 years!
Being a psych major had nothing to do with it – she needed to focus on the fact that she is a small business owner and has run a business for 10 years, that is the definition of success, no matter the state of the business today! – That is 100 percent inspiring!
Why is it so important to support small businesses?
Small businesses are the life-blood of our economy. And entrepreneurs are contagious. Small businesses employ people, they create opportunity and every business starts as a small business. I have started and sold several business and each one started small.
What should small business owners know before starting their own business?
Have a plan for what you want to do and know your numbers. Almost every business we worked with doesn’t have a firm grasp on their financials. – It is ok if you don’t know everything! But then work with an accountant, or someone who knows about financial plans. They have a great idea, but they don’t know their numbers and they end up never paying themselves or undervaluing their products. – Let the numbers help you guide your business.
One of the businesses we worked with in Bristol is a daycare and they are providing an exceptional service. But they were practically giving it away for free.
Know your market, know your value, charge accordingly.
How can small business owners gain a competitive edge in an increasingly competitive landscape?
You really need to know your competition and you need to understand what your local market can bear. An example is the Eclectic Shoppe in Wabash from Season 1. The owner was trying to decide how to price her goods. She was comparing prices by looking at online stores. – You can’t do that.
She doesn’t sell online, so her overhead is so much higher. She didn’t understand her market or her competition, so she didn’t know how to set prices. She was losing money and she would have gone out of business because she didn’t do her research. That is the biggest hurdle in order to gain a competitive advantage – researching your own market.
Also, small business owners need to focus on what they do best. That is why it is important to work with companies like Deluxe that help the business owner with things they don’t know how to do, like build a website or create a social media campaign or a logo. Focus on your customers and seek help in other areas.
What are some of the most interesting business problems you’ve worked on during the show?
They have all been interesting, but I think the auto shop not knowing what their core business is was a tough one. And in Wabash, Thriftalicious was a challenge because they were trying to decide if they were a vintage gaming store or a vintage furniture and toy store. Understanding your value proposition is extremely important.
What excites you about Season 2 of the “Small Business Revolution”?
It will be great to show what is unqiue about Bristol Borough with the rest of the country. Small towns are so incredible because the people in these communities collectively care so deeply about their success. Each town is so unique and face their own set of challenges, yet I feel so many communities can relate.
You’ve talked a lot about the food you’ve tried while filming the show. What’s your favorite?
Good question. I loved the food at Harry’s in Wabash. But we had some great desserts at Annabella’s in Bristol. I love family run restaurants – you can taste the passion!