056: Helped 10,000 small businesses grow with their SaaS 13-month programme, 70-80% success rate, dropped fees from $2k USD to $300 a month, 1 FTE to 40 in 14 countries. Aged 22 in 2005, accidentally fired herself from corporate (Carissa Reiniger)

Presented by Troy Trewin

Troy has worked intimately with 26 businesses in 20 years. He knows their numbers, understands their growing pains and people issues and has helped with most financial aspects, as well as having coached on leadership and management.

November 22, 2020

In this episode, I interview Carissa Reiniger, the Founder, and CEO of Small Business Silver Lining, a company that helps more small business owners make money doing what they love by building more profitable and sustainable businesses. They believe strongly in the power of small business to generate sustainable economic development and to create economic justice. Their work has been featured in many publications and media outlets including the New York Times, Forbes, TechCrunch, National Post, Globe and Mail, Inc, Entrepreneur, CNN, and more. Carissa is also the Creator of the Thank You Small Business movement and regularly writes, speaks, and advises on small business.

She started out in 2005, aged 22, and after accidentally firing herself from corporate. She initially did consulting in anything with the simple drive to help small businesses and soon after, she pivoted to an online training offering called Silver Lining Action Plan (SLAP). SLAP has now helped over 10,000 small businesses around the world. They later reduced their fees from $2,000 a month to $300, and their success rate has been 70 to 80%, which is measured on the goals the business owners set for themselves before starting their 13-Month program. From one full-time employee to now forty, her team is in 14 countries and went remote eight years ago before it was cool for Covid.

Their next move is to offer small business lending lines based on SLAP behavior. For culture, they focus on team wellness, extra holidays, and an unlimited time away policy. When it comes to success, Carissa feels she has had moments of success but hasn’t gotten there yet. She says that the hardest thing about growing a small business is juggling the complexity or volume of things to do. The one she says she would tell herself on day one of starting out in business is, “It’s going to be okay. Pace yourself and don’t do it alone” It’s going to be a super resourceful episode if you’re looking to grow your small business, so don’t forget to tune in.

This Cast Covers:

  • Working with small businesses to help them grow by helping individual small business owners become more profitable and sustainable.
  • Facilitating the creation of opportunities for families, jobs, communities, and the economy.
  • Moving from a subscription model charging $300 a month to a pay-what-you-can model during the pandemic.
  • How their current business model is helping them grow their customer base and help more businesses.
  • The advantage of having a scalable software-as-a-service model.
  • Saving the business by cutting some of their costs and from SLAP experts donating their time.
  • The backstory of how she came up with the SLAP methodology.
  • Working with 10,000 small businesses in over 20 countries and the metrics they track to keep growing the business and its impact.
  • Starting out as the only full-time employee to the current eighteen full-time staff and some freelancers and contractors.
  • Why tracking against top-level revenue and team count may not be the best way to measure business growth.
  • The value of decreasing their overheads to get their price point down.
  • How their profit margin grows with the growth in customer base while their overheads don’t grow that much.
  • Enjoying moments of reminders that her hard work has been paying off.
  • Doing marketing that is helpful, valuable, authentic, and not spinny
  • Making a decision not to take VC money to maintain their focus on making an impact.
  • Encouraging small business owners to raise funding from selling products and services and taking equity financing as an option of last resort.
  • Giving unsecured loans at fair interest rates based purely on business owners’ SLAP behavioral data.
  • Learning to be vulnerable and asking for help in difficult times.
  • Working hard rounding herself and learning to be a better manager.
  • Seeing that something she created out of nothing is now a huge machine that employs people and helps lots of small businesses.
  • Going remote years before Covid hit and how that has helped her find great team members.
  • Building a culture that focuses more on team wellness.
  • Spending tens of thousands of dollars on personal development and continuous learning.
  • How she has benefitted from being intentional about building a network of incredible mentors and coaches.
  • Juggling the complexities of the many hats a small business owner has to wear.
  • Learning from other people who have valuable expertise to share.

Additional Resources:

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Quotes:

“Business is a great tool for justice” – Carissa Reiniger

“The real drift driver of the economy in a steady and significant way is absolutely small business” – Carissa Reiniger

“Business owners should be thinking about impact in addition to financial success”  – Carissa Reiniger

“Talk to your customers and be real” – Carissa Reiniger

“The best money you can get as a small business is revenue” – Carissa Reiniger

“Getting access to affordable and reasonable debt is really important” – Carissa Reiniger

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Music from https://filmmusic.io “Cold Funk” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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