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Helping Main Street Entrepreneurs

At York IE, we commit our livelihoods to working with entrepreneurs and startups on their rollercoaster journeys towards fulfilling their dreams. 

In chatting with dozens and dozens of these technology focused entrepreneurs over the past few weeks we realized that the challenges they were facing weren’t too dissimilar to the ones of Main Street Small Businesses. Meaning, the practical business advice we were giving brought it back to the business fundamentals that I learned growing up in my small family business. These principles are never more spotlighted than today as we’ve all been stripped down and punched in the mouth by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Every single day, as we engage with these founders and executives on the trials and tribulations they face in building their startups, we keep hearing the voices of the local taco shop owner, realtor, the barre studio, the pub, the non-profit, beer distributor, the gift store, the screen printing business, the ice cream stand, the hot dog cart, the furniture store, the gym and many more: “We’re all alone. Help us. What do we do? How do we survive? How do we rebuild? How do we succeed (again!)?”

It is a long, lonely and windy road for any business leader running a company. We remind them constantly that they are not actually alone, but most local small businesses simply don’t have the support infrastructure and resources around them of a fast-growth tech startup. Many times these pure businesses are multi-generational, passed down from those that have come before, and often those figureheads, matriarchs or patriarchs and mentors are unfortunately long deceased. Or they are singular, first time owners and haven’t done it before. Either way, it’s an isolated feeling.

So for us, we kept seeing these similarities and knew we could help. We thought why not go repurpose our work with startups and build an initiative, template, sounding board and perhaps a relaunching pad for the lifeblood, energy and vibrancy of our communities — Main Street Small Businesses.  Slow it down, survey the playing field, be realistic, reimagine your strategy, write it down, collaborate with your peers, sequence out your execution plans and communicate with your constituents. Did I say write it down? Hold yourself accountable and keep at it. This advice we’re giving to entrepreneurs is always somewhat of an exercise in projecting back to ourselves the things we also need to strategize on, hear and execute. It takes incredible dedication, conviction and resolve to build businesses from scratch that make an impact on their respective markets while establishing strong companies in their local communities that create jobs, generate stability and wealth, leave a legacy and impact the world. 

We’re excited to partner with the Greater Manchester Chamber, The Union Leader, Montagne Communications and York Creative Collective (YCC), to launch the Main Street Re-Opening Initiative. It’s awesome and a way we can give back in this time and aligns with our core values. 

York IE’s core values are on our boardroom wall at our headquarters in the R.G. Sullivan Cigar Building in Manchester, New Hampshire. For Adam, Joe, myself and the broader York IE family, this place defines us. Our love for it is genuine and pure. Through our years growing up here in NH, our schooling and athletics, to our voyages elsewhere seeing the world, to our decade building Dyn in Manchester center and making our mark at Oracle, we’ve been obsessed about giving back to our local communities, wherever we’ve called home or had offices and colleagues. But no place holds our hearts more than our hometown. 

The pride we’ve been able to feel by building successful careers in the place we grew up is hard for other entrepreneurs in the large technology ecosystems like Silicon Valley (San Francisco), New York City, London or Boston to fully grasp. Those environments have the foundations, infrastructures, concentrations and scale to rinse and repeat successful corporations over and over again. Many people who live and work there aren’t from there and haven’t lived its ups and downs so vividly. These places also have 10-1000x the number of Main Street Small Businesses that we have in our small cities.

It’s not so simple in smaller cities, for these growth startups, or the local small businesses, to thrive. These interwoven businesses need and depend on each other more than in a larger place. If you don’t have a cool and energetic community, you can’t recruit talent. If you don’t have strong innovative and creative startups married with established employers, you can’t create the jobs people desire. Whether it’s admitted or not, we’re all competing with major cities in all we do. It’s the smaller city chip on the shoulder. It’s a balancing act in these ecosystems where businesses of all shapes and sizes must function in lockstep unison. Or talent simply leaves and settles elsewhere.

In times like these we realize that these support systems are more intertwined than we realize. It’s something we’ve obsessed over in Manchester, greater Manchester, New Hampshire, greater Boston and New England for our entire professional careers. We must band together and focus on the core tenants that make our communities gritty, different and uniquely ours. More people will want to live here and more great companies will exist if we stay the course. 

Macro and micro crises are bound to hit and you must be prepared to survive, iterate, adapt, persevere, evolve and succeed. We grew up in small businesses. We’ve lived in their shoes our entire careers as entrepreneurs and executives… and we still do as we get our new company off the ground, sustainable and scalable. 

For technology startups and Main Street Small Businesses alike. We need each other. Now more than ever. We hope you find tremendous value in this program.

Visit the article highlights at Union Leader: https://www.unionleader.com/news/business/business_notebook/revival-downtown-business-leaders-aim-to-give-small-businesses-a-boost/article_6928f881-8f57-5501-8acc-d0cfe5b3fb91.html 

Visit the launch blog and download the template at Great Manchester Chamber: http://manchester-chamber.org/reopenmht/

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