As a small-business owner, what was one of your top challenges over this past year and how did you address it?
Managing Member and Founder
Finding the right people — this is a continuing, nagging problem and I am sure there is no simple solution. Your team can make or break you, so I take careful consideration when hiring. FSW Funding recruits from across the U.S. to find the right employees, and we are constantly looking for good talent because FSW Funding is only as good as our employees.
When we find good employees, we do all we can to retain them. We do the obvious: competitive compensation, tuition reimbursement, 401K and medical benefits. We celebrate big life milestones and small workplace accomplishments. I also empower employees and give them autonomy, as no one wants to be micromanaged. This has helped me hire and retain the best team in the commercial lending industry.
Even though we have hired the right people, we are still growing, so I don’t see a solution to this issue anytime soon. And that is a good thing.
Robyn Barrett is the managing member of FSW Funding, an independently owned and operated factoring firm. She helps small to mid-sized business-to-business companies secure funding that may not otherwise be available. By giving them access to the capital needed to grow, FSW Funding is helping shape the business community.
Principal, Graphic Designer and Illustrator
Heather Bednorz Design
Sector: Creative Services, Advertising
This year’s biggest challenge has been implementing marketing activities to attract new clients. If I use my time exclusively on client projects, my own company’s marketing lags. Other business owners tell me they have the same problem. A solution that’s working for us is scheduling brainstorming sessions, project production and social media activities for in-house needs the same as we would for a client.
For example, I offer a free illustration download on my website that is changed periodically. Scheduling each step on my calendar helps make that happen. A business friend hired someone to handle her Instagram to ensure she posts weekly. In the past, she posted sporadically because she couldn’t always get to it. Similarly, I need to reach out to those who have viewed my LinkedIn profile or visited my web site. Having a prepared message available makes it much easier to respond quickly and professionally.
Your company really is your most valuable client. I’ve shared this concept with clients and see it working for them as well.
Heather Bednorz has served as principal, graphic designer and illustrator at Heather Bednorz Design for more than 20 years, creating business identity packages (logos, business cards, stationery and brochures), advertising, illustration and web design solutions. Bednorz has additional experience providing project and print management and custom illustration. Her clients include hospitals/health systems, local businesses, regional and national builders, resorts and startups.
Co-Owner and Lead Baker
The greatest challenge our business faced in 2019 was learning how to adjust to continued double-digit growth. In 2017, we relocated to a new retail storefront in central Phoenix and, as a result, have experienced tremendous growth in 2018 and into 2019. It’s a wonderful problem to have, but it brings a lot of new challenges. Our goal is always to accommodate the growth without allowing customers to see us struggle through the process.
The main change we made was streamlining our processes and procedures. As our growth ramped up, it was easy to see cracks in old processes, which typically resulted in costly mistakes. We also streamlined our production processes in our bakery so that bakers began working in more efficient teams rather than working alone to accomplish tasks. Streamlining even affected our menu, as we looked at reducing our offerings to focus on bestsellers and more efficient ways to produce our current items.
As always with more growth, we also had to add more equipment and a layer of management to stay on top of our game.
Pro football was one of many careers Brady Breese thought would be his calling in life; instead, he became co-owner and lead baker of his own bakery in Phoenix — Urban Cookies Bakeshop — specializing in gourmet, made-fromscratch pastries. A self-taught culinary artist, Breese, in 2011, competed in and won Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, a match-up of cupcake bakers from across the country who have a chance to win $10,000.