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  • Writer's pictureAnika Horn

Continuing conversations: Field notes from the ecosystem

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

As summer came to a close, the Ecosystem team continued their conversations around access to capital in the Shenandoah Valley and caught up with entrepreneurs to find out what’s keeping them up at night.

August in numbers:

  • We sat down with 10 entrepreneurs 1:1

  • The Programs team checked in with 9 Alumni of Business Bootcamp and Startup Shenandoah Valley

  • We attended 3 entrepreneur and community events in the Valley and

  • Co-hosted 1 small business breakfast in New Market.

What we heard from accomplices

In mid-August, we spent a day in Shenandoah County to meet up with accomplices who support small business and startup entrepreneurs in some of the smaller communities such as New Market, Woodstock, and Strasburg. Most of the conversation revolved around entrepreneurs’ desire to convene and connect as peers, and the limited access to financial education resources and service providers who are equipped to help entrepreneurs better understand and manage their business finances.

Here’s the good news:

  • The Shenandoah Community Capital Fund just launched a virtual resource library to meet the need for on-demand education and training for entrepreneurs. The first two videos are financial tutorials on Cash Flow Projections and Breakeven Analysis.

  • Local entrepreneur Will Swann is hosting events for small business entrepreneurs North of Harrisonburg. His first Small Business Breakfast in New Market got twenty entrepreneurs out of bed bright and early to network and talk business. The next chance for Shenandoah County entrepreneurs to get together will be October 12 at the Woodstock Brewhouse for a Small Business Happy Hour. Everyone is welcome, RSVP here!

  • If you can’t make it to this Small Business Happy Hour, please join us at the upcoming Shenandoah Valley Entrepreneurship Summit, October 23-24 in Harrisonburg, VA!

For more events, see what’s happening on Valley Business Compass!

If you’re interested in supporting entrepreneurs in the Shenandoah Valley - be it as a mentor, investor, educational institution, or economic developer - get in touch with Anika Horn, our Director of Ecosystem Building, and the Ecosystem team will loop you into everything that’s going on!

What we heard from entrepreneurs

At SCCF, we regularly check in with entrepreneurs who have previously participated in our Business Bootcamp and S2V programs to see how their businesses are evolving and how the founders themselves are handling entrepreneur life.

Over the past few weeks, our Programs team has heard from multiple entrepreneurs that delegation is hard for those who started out on their own. They struggle to figure out how to make the time to set up the right systems to be able to train and delegate tasks as their business grows. We also heard that business finances and financial management are an ongoing challenge; entrepreneurs’ capital needs, inventory management, pricing, and financial systems evolve and become more complex as their businesses grow.

Meanwhile, Nick Koger, our Community Outreach Manager, was out and about meeting with new entrepreneurs. He picked up on three themes that were keeping founders up at night:

  1. Scaling down is what can happen when a business has no potential for growth, and the owner is moving towards another project. Not all businesses are designed to last a lifetime; part of being an entrepreneur is realizing when an idea has run its course and it’s time to move on. Nick met up with two entrepreneurs who are currently scaling down in order to follow their entrepreneurial spirit. We know this can be a difficult decision to make, but we’re excited to see what they do next!

  2. A few entrepreneurs talked about their feelings of self-doubt. They referred to the feeling of “imposter syndrome,” which is a phrase that we hear a lot, but what does it really mean? Nick pulled out the dictionary to get some clarity: “Imposter Syndrome is the persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one's own efforts or skills (” Whether it’s from a lack of education or experience, entrepreneurs of all stages seem to encounter some degree of imposter syndrome. If you’re feeling this way, know that you are not alone!

  3. Entrepreneurs are continuously frustrated with trying to find capital for their businesses. In talking to Nick, the founders mentioned that trying to find funding is time-consuming. “Small businesses lack trust in banks due to the uncertainty in terms of fees, terms, and conditions. Minority entrepreneurs, in particular, have a hard time obtaining bank loans to raise the capital they need to start and grow their business in the Shenandoah Valley.”

If you’re an entrepreneur in the Shenandoah Valley - or thinking about becoming one - and these challenges sound all too familiar, don’t hesitate to reach out to Nick and set up some time to chat! Nick has your back and wants to hear what you’re working on!


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