Neil A. Carousso produces and co-hosts WCBS Newsradio 880’s Small Business Spotlight series with Joe Connolly. Click here to watch the weekly video segments featuring advice for business owners on survival, recovery and growth opportunities.
  • Taking the Leap: Growing and Scaling a Business Amid Great Resignation

    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Many people who started businesses while working from home are quitting their jobs to run their companies full-time.

    “I love the independence of entrepreneurship,” said Ramon Ray, founder of Smart Hustle Media, on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.

    Ray has made a career out of his passion for small businesses, advocating for digital growth tools and community support. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the serial entrepreneur saw so-called “solo-preneurship” booming and wrote an e-book guide “Grow Your Solo” in which Ray outlines steps to start and grow a sole-proprietorship.

    “You can scale the business to the size that you want and be happy with that and live the life you want,” he told WCBS 880.

    A record 5.4 million Americans submitted new business applications in 2021, a number that has accelerated since July 2020 as economists and employers became aware of the great resignation phenomenon.

    One of the greatest challenges new business owners face is pricing their products and services.

    “Let’s say in the Northeast, right – us people – you want to pay yourself $150 (thousand), $200 (thousand), whatever it is,” Ray said. “Now, maybe triple that.”

    The small business expert noted owners have to pay employees and contractors, overhead costs, operating expenses, other unforeseen costs, plus taxes. That’s a big adjustment for entrepreneurs who have left high-paying salaried jobs.

    Ray started Smart Hustle while working at the United Nations. He told Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso that he was fired about seven years ago with one client on his roster.

    “I had a $40,000 client. That’s all I had, Joe, but it was able to give me enough cushion and a starting point, a runway, to begin my full-time business,” said Ray.

    He accepted monthly payments from the client to stay afloat and support his family while selling his services to more clients.

    He suggests owners secure a few good clients, first, before taking the leap. At the same time, he believes entrepreneurs who are confident in their business will succeed if they are passionate and motivated.

    As a small business owner himself, Ray consults with large national and international firms as clients and is the entrepreneur-in-residence at NetSuite, Inc., a leading cloud computing software company.

    “If you’re trying to bid or sell for a larger project, don’t try to pretend and say, ‘We, we, we. We have 100 people back there,’ when you don’t. They’ll smell through that, so you can’t sell on that,” he explained, adding, “But, you can sell them on the passion and commitment and your, hopefully, past success and talk about, ‘We’re small, but we’re nimble. Maybe we can be more price competitive. We have an amazing team that will serve your needs and we will be your only focus.'”

    Ray also advises to sell services directly to an executive within a company because that person can be a key endorsement and referral to other departments within the firm.

    See more advice and inspiration for starting, growing and scaling a business on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.

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