This week I had the incredible opportunity to attend the first ever Small Business Summit in Washington DC. Goldman Sachs invited all present and past alumni of their business training program, 10K Small Businesses, to attend an agenda-packed two-day Summit at the Washington Hilton. Upon entering the venue, there was an incredible energy felt between the over 2200 small business owners from all over the US — the largest gathering of small business owners ever.
I traveled to DC with some of my colleagues from my 10KSB Cohort in Chicago. It was awesome to have all of us together again to experience this. We finished 10KSB almost two years ago and many of us have remained close. We continue to meet up and hold each other accountable both personally and professionally, and so we all feel a little less isolated on the lonely entrepreneurial island.
The two days we spent in DC were filled with many memorable moments: hearing Warren Buffet’s humble speech and words of wisdom, belly laughing from Sir Richard Branson’s brutal honesty on his life and experiences, and listening to Sara Blakely’s struggle on balancing motherhood and being a business owner. J.W. Rogers opened the Summit by speaking about small businesses as the backbone of the US economy. I was in awe at in hearing the statistics of how much impact we have: the revenue sum of all the business owners in the room was over 9 billion dollars. We even had the opportunity to meet local state representatives and senators to discuss our concerns as business owners. Even if nothing is resolved, it was a unique opportunity we were provided to have them listen to us and something else to be thankful for.
Each person who I heard speak or whose seminar I attended had an impact on me, which help me reevaluate the ways in which I look at challenges and struggles. It was exciting and energizing, and made me feel like I am part of a united community that can change and impact our economy in so many ways. The impact is personal, too. With each opportunity that arises through 10KSB, I again feel extremely grateful to have had that life changing chance.
I know I am not alone in this feeling. In talking to hundreds of different business owners, there was an overwhelming sentiment of gratitude for having participated in the 10KSB program. Everyone gets something different out of it, but through the program, I have found my trusted business advisors and accountability partners. The importance of my colleagues is reflected in the most powerful quote I heard this week: “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” Because of 10KSB, I belong to a community and truly believe we all have each other’s best interest in mind — we want to help each other and we do! So think about who you spend your precious time with, it’s important!