Spring is almost here, and that means fresh ideas and ways to grow may be on your mind – especially if you’re a small business owner. Looking for some ways to get inspired? We’ve tapped David Femi, who has been with M&T Bank for more than 11 years, to share some fresh perspectives for minority small businesses in 2023. David is the Senior Vice President and Head of Multicultural Banking/Diverse Markets Strategy and Business. He is also the Professional Regional Manager in Fairfield County and Southern Connecticut.
Growth is necessary in most businesses. It creates new opportunities and attracts new customers. But to grow, you need capital. Grants and loans are not just for businesses that are starting up. There are a lot of opportunities out there to assist with your goals such as becoming more efficient through automation, updating outdated appliances or expanding your space. David recommends using the U.S. Small Business Administration website as a resource for not only 2023 funding, but also training opportunities.
Here are a few 2023 SBA support pages:
Grants are an incredible way to grow your business because you do not need to pay them back. Grants.gov will show you a plethora of active grant opportunities to apply for. David recommends bookmarking this site and checking it every quarter at the very least, as new opportunities are constantly being added.
Here are a few 2023 grants to give you an idea of what’s out there:
Minority Business Development Agency Grant
National Association for the Self-Employed Growth Grant
Refugee Microenterprise Development Grant
Small Business Innovation Research and Technology Transfer Programs
There are even grant opportunities for small businesses from big businesses (who knew?!):
Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI)
Patagonia Corporate Grant Program
The FedEx® Small Business Grant Contest (closed now, but great to prep for next year)
It’s important to remember that there are many opportunities specific to your area, too. Your bank, town hall or city hall are great places to learn about local funding opportunities. Plus, you likely have less competition applying locally vs. nationally.
Beyond loans and grants
There are a lot of other great ways to help you save in 2023. Your local utility companies likely have small business support programs and rebates to upgrade equipment. If you’re in Upstate New York, for example, National Grid is loaded with evergy-saving programs. You may qualify for more tax benefits if you’re reading this prior to filing. You may even be able to make smarter investments and saving account contributions than you realize. It’s important to leverage your relationship manager at M&T who can help uncover opportunities locally and nationally to save and earn – they are a free resource to you!
New opportunities within M&T
So what’s new at M&T for small businesses? We thought you’d never ask. For the past few years, we have run a Small Business Spotlight Shop that promotes small businesses' products and services both online and in person. Check it out!
This year, we’re expanding our Spotlight Shop efforts with the Spotlight Shop in a Box. Select participating businesses will have the opportunity to set up shop in one of our nearby and popular branches to raise company awareness and make new sales. You can learn more about the 2023 Spotlight Shop opportunities and become a participating business for us to feature in 2023 here. We’d love to have you!
M&T Bank has also launched its Multicultural Small Business Labs in key growth markets to assist racially and ethnically diverse businesses with small business education. This program aims to empower these businesses with the tools and resources they need to start, grow and bring new products to the marketplace. Many even receive funding.
Business insights to keep in sight
Okay, these are not so much opportunities as they are insights to keep in mind for 2023. But being aware of them will help you create opportunities, so they’re equally important. According to QuickBooks, the cost of living and new ways of working has encouraged millions of people in the U.S. to start their own business in 2023. The U.S. anticipates having more entrepreneurs in 2023 than ever before. This means you need to find your competitive edge if you haven’t already. Only boutique on the block? Add a few initiatives or quirks that make you different before you’re forced to. Just because you’re the first doesn’t mean you’ll be the only one – you must stay proactive!
Another important finding is that 65% of business owners are worried about a potential recession in 2023. They are nervous they will lose customers with price increases and not attract as many new customers as people tighten their belts. Especially if you’re in the convenience, lifestyle or entertainment industry, you should begin planning for a recession now. Your relationship with your customers is more important than ever. If your customer service is incomparable, customers will be more likely to continue to support you when you need to raise your prices.
Additionally, a great way to stay successful is by becoming a part of a small business ecosystem. This is a network of organizations that all rely on each other. Think about a local farm and a restaurant. They need each other to be successful. Establishing a trusted system is key to surviving through good times and bad. So if competition or a recession does hit in 2023, you won’t abandon them and they won’t abandon you.
Set a goal to try at least one new thing this season! Maybe it’s focusing more on hiring the right people, applying for more grants or boosting your social media presence. To grow and build a successful business, you need to take new leaps.