Carla Hall shares why small businesses need a community to thrive

(Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)
(Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images) /

Carla Hall has guided many home cooks to master the perfect recipe. While the successful chef and popular culinary personality always has a welcoming presence both on the screen and in person, Hall appreciates that food is her business.

While it might have been years ago that she started with her catering business, her current business endeavors are another version of a small business. Like other entrepreneurs, she appreciates that it takes a village to thrive.

As one of the collaborative partners in the UPS Store Small Biz Challenge, this program and contest not only sought to celebrate small business but to create a community. From sharing the stories of success, struggle and even redemption, other business owners and entrepreneurs can appreciate that they are not alone in these experiences.

During a conversation with FoodSided, Carla Hall shared some of her thoughts on small business and what it takes to be successful.

As part of the event, Hall and other participants joined a roundtable discussion. For Hall, she found that the conversations offered value beyond the business tips that were shared as part of the discussions. Specifically, it was a way for others to appreciate that they do not have to suffer in silence.

Hall stated, “when you realize somebody else is going through something or they went through, something that you’re going through” the situation may seem less daunting. Having those peers who are “saying I understand” is sometimes that support that people need.

In the past year, many small businesses did struggle, but at the same time others saw how their local communities were able to lift them up during those difficulties. Hall believes that “communities came together to keep as many businesses afloat as possible.” The descriptor of “pivot,” “adaptation” or another word is not the focus. It is the willingness to work hard, accept the help from the community, and rely on people within that support system which allowed some small businesses to thrive.

Carla Hall recalled a story when she first started her catering business. While she was an accounting major, that school knowledge is only one slice of the business pie. Understanding food ordering trends, managing supplies and a variety of other aspects is not necessarily taught in those business classes.

With the help of a fellow businesswoman, Hall was able to compile marketing materials, put together menus and set the business on a successful path. Hall believes that without that woman’s help, her catering business would have had an obstacle in her path. While the woman was willing to help, Hall had to accept that outstretched hand. That concept of shared responsibility is vital to small business endeavors.

As Hall fostered her relationships with people who wanted to help her, she believes that business owners need to connect with their employees. If the employees do not feel vested in their role, they may not be as connected to wanting that business to thrive. While a strong employer can create the better environment, the employee has responsibilities as well.

Although there is no class or book for being “a good employee,” the reality is that a small business is a little family. While the boss might be in charge, that environment is not strong when the individuals do not come together as one collective unit. Just like an owner might need to take the outstretched hand of a mentor, the owner and the employee must lift each other up to create the foundation for success.

While the Small Biz Challenge will highlight five finalists and eventually pick a winner, the lessons learned from this challenge are far greater than the prize money awarded. Learning from others, accepting help and creating a supportive community are all the building blocks of a successful business. Just like a house needs a strong foundation to weather both the storms and the sun, a small business needs to build from the ground up with the help from others to raise that hold that future success.

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Do you have any advice for a small business owner? Do you have a story to tell FoodSided?