Views from DC: America’s Small Business Summit

“Say yes before you’re ready.”

Maybe it’s in Volatile’s DNA to live by this mantra simply because of the standard definition of the word or maybe it’s the nature of the beast that is entrepreneurship. In either regard, saying yes to a business trip to Washington, DC with just less than a week to prepare was a decision that we do not regret.

In the first of a three part blog series focusing on this professional adventure, here’s our recap of a few choice seminars from America’s Small Business Summit presented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Create change, foster innovation and help your city thrive.

Innovation That Matters: Does Your City Have What It Takes To Survive In A Digital Age
Panel: Evan Burfield (Co-founder & Co-CEO of 1776), Claudia Freeland Jolin (Special Assistant, Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Economic and Neighborhood Development), Shelton Mercer III (CEO, TwitCHANGE Partner & Chief Strategy Officer of Benjamin’s Desk), Carolyn Cawley (President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation), Mike Madden (Deputy Editor, Washington Post)

Key Points

  • Collaborate & Connect. Few cities are connecting their existing corporations & institutions to start ups effectively. Building strong local networks that enable connection between civic startups & diverse groups of local stakeholders is the key to jumpstarting innovation in cities.
  • The most important commodity for a vibrant, innovative economy: a strong base of local, talented citizens motivated to make a difference & mobilized by established institutions.
  • “Health is king.” Health is currently the dominating field among digital industries in the new era.

Click here for 1776’s full Innovation That Matters Report

Storytelling is a powerful tool that can either make you and your business stand out as extraordinary or make you blend into the crowd.

Summit University: Build Your Brand Through the Power of Storytelling
Speaker: Julie Dixon (Research Director, National Journal)

Key Points

  • SoldierFit’s definition of storytelling: a genuine, relatable, humanizing experience.
  • The stories are not always about us. When telling a story, you are the supporting character and the customer is the hero.
  • Be mindful. Link your stories strategically. Know the difference between what is and isn’t appropriate to share.

Innovate for the good of humanity.

Making The Impossible Possible
Speaker: Elliot Kotek (Co-founder & Content Chief, Not Impossible)

Key Points

  • Help one, help many. Pool knowledge & resources to create technology for the sake of humanity.
  • Passion trumps all. Define your passion and identify the passion of local talent. Surround yourself with a community of innovators.
  • The four P’s:  passion, purpose, people, possibilities.

Your business can’t flourish and grow if your employees and their families aren’t healthy.

Health Means Business
Panel: Richard Crespin (CEO, CollaborateUp), Margaret Gifford (Community Engagement Consultant, Health Means Business Campaign, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation & Founder of Watervine Impact), Chuck Gillespie (Executive Director, Wellness Council of Indiana), Duncan F. Williams (President, Duncan-Williams, Inc.)

Key Points

  • Create places where people want to live, work & play.
  • Create initiatives for peer to peer interaction, but it’s important for the leader to participate too.
  • Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Utilize what is readily available within your community.

Balancing hustle and heart to drive growth, success and resilience.

Growth, Grit & Sweet Success: Lessons On Hustle & Heart From Unexpected Places
Speaker: Kat Cole (Group President, FOCUS Brands)

Key Points

  • “Be a good partner & owner when times are good / be a great partner & owner when times are bad.”
  • There are two types of people in the world – the preservers (the watchers) & those who jump into the fire (the doers).
  • When evaluating risks and compelling alternatives in business, consider these two thoughts:
    • “If I don’t, someone else will”
    • “Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.”

Drive results through collaborations, partnerships and relationships.

Business Success With The 3 P’s: People, Process, Product
Speaker: Marcus Lemonis (Host of CNBC’s The Profit / CEO of Camping World & Good Sam Enterprises)

Key Points

  • If you want to create a connection with people, you have to first open up to them.
  • The lines are blurry between being a good individual & a good business person.
  • Of the three P’s, the people are most important.


Volatile’s Takeaway

  • Doing good is not only good karma, but good business.
  • Authentic relationships are essential to success.
  • People are your most invaluable resource.

Listening to the triumphs & “failures” of fellow entrepreneurs in our nation’s capital reinforced Volatile’s mission as a medium for positive action within the small business community. We have already begun to put what we learned into practice, and are looking forward to continuing the journey with you!

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