L. Michelle Smith, Director, Public Relations, AT&T Global Marketing Organization, recently served as a guest speaker at the “Culture and Code” luncheon during the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur’s Summit.
Smith shared her thoughts on the “Culture and Code” luncheon and why entrepreneurs must understand the “fail fast” theory.
Why was it important for AT&T to be involved in the “Culture and Code” luncheon?
Entrepreneurs and small businesses are a vital part of the fabric of America. They play a crucial role in our communities and the economy. They are also a key audience for AT&T. Ultimately, we see the growth of small businesses as a benefit for the community at large. We partnered with James Andrews and SmashD to bring the Culture and Code conversation to the BE Summit to further show our commitment to helping grow businesses in our supply chain as well as target and cultivate diverse suppliers in emerging markets.
The importance of “Scale” was a major theme at the luncheon. Why should entrepreneurs always think of scalability when it comes to their business?
Scalability is all about right-sourcing. Small business that can scale — grow larger or smaller based on the opportunity–allows businesses to bid on contracts to work with larger corporations. In order to achieve scale, entrepreneurs should explore collaborative ventures with other entities to provide greater service. Access to resources and strong infrastructure are important assets that can make a small business more competitive in the marketplace. It also makes the business more attractive to larger organizations as a supplier. Companies like AT&T are committed to working with diverse small businesses that can show they are capable of handling the volume of business we conduct across the country. Businesses that are able to scale, also show that they know how to work smarter.
Another theme during the luncheon was the importance of finding and supporting Black-owned businesses. How can Black business owners find ways to connect with each other in ways that will help expansion and growth?
There are a breadth of ways that black businesses can find each other and connect both on and offline. The BE Summit is a great example of this with entrepreneurs from nearly every industry from all over the country in attendance. Small businesses must be agile, using all the resources available to them. Social media is just one of many resources that has tremendous potential to help grow a business. Social platforms allow you to connect to customers, suppliers and even potential partners anywhere in the world. There are also a number of mobile solutions that business owners can employ to stay connected on-the-go and keep their businesses running.
What should every entrepreneur know about the importance of remaining encouraged after failure?
I am a former entrepreneur as well as an intrapreneur here at AT&T. Failure may seem scary, but it is the first step to learning more, to perfecting a practice, to winning. Some of the most successful businesses in history experienced some kind of failure. The key to surmounting a failure is to understand the concept of “failing fast” which means you have to be willing to try as many things as possible and pivot quickly when something clearly is not working. There are valuable lessons that can be learned from failure and those lessons often lead to finding greater success in the next venture.