This is part of WTOP’s continuing coverage of people making a difference from our community authored by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. Read more of that coverage.
Challenges from staffing to supply chain issues have had an impact on the lives of small business owners. With small business owner burnout at an all time high, how can they maintain mental balance while balancing the books financially?
One D.C.-area business owner says use your network.
“You can’t do it alone,” said Maurisa Potts, Founder and CEO of Alexandria, Virginia-based Spotted MP Marketing and Public Relations. “You’ve got to have your village and your family and your friends to do it.”
Potts, a minority business owner, calls networking a form of currency.
“It is my bread and butter. I can’t express how important it is to use your network.”
It’s also important to build connections and to work with mentors, she says.
“Everyday in my job, I’m building connections,” Potts says.
She says her goal is to create an “amazing ripple effect of community,” that she can do business with, collaborate with or share like-minded experiences with.
Potts is no stranger to challenges in business. In 2008 when the United States was in a financial recession, she decided to take a giant leap of faith and go out on her own.
She says people thought she was crazy for starting a business during a recession, especially while having a newborn at home. What sparked the Vienna native’s interest in going out on her own?
Potts says she had a boss who was not supportive of women, especially African American women. She was told that her dream of becoming the owner of her own marketing firm sounded more like a hobby than a business plan, Potts says.
Potts is part of a growing statistic, women represent 35% of black owned businesses. The Virginia Tech graduate says she proved her detractors wrong. For 15 years, Spotted MP Marketing and Public Relations has been providing businesses, brands and nonprofits with strategic marketing, communications and event services.
Potts says she often shares her story with minority women who are interested in starting their own business, but they’re afraid. She says many of them struggle with trust issues, “Who can you trust in your circle to lift you.”
She says she tells them, “Don’t be discouraged. There are always going to be people out there who are going to try to burn your light or crush your light.”
Potts says people have tried to dim her light for many reasons from being a woman, to being African American. She says she’s even been discriminated against for being short. At 4 feet 11 inches tall, Potts says her motto is “I’m small yet mighty.”
The Alexandria resident who lives with her husband and son says she also has two pieces of advice for young entrepreneurs, number one; “Use your voice. It’s the strongest thing you have. number two: Don’t back down.”