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Small Business Owners Show True Entrepreneurial Spirit

June 29, 2021

By Sarah Miller, originally featured in SBAM’s FOCUS on Business Magazine

i recently had the opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, SBAM president Brian Calley, and nine small business owners. 

These business owners were brought together at Facebook’s invitation, to give Sheryl a chance to understand how small business owners were able to pivot business models during the pandemic. You can read a joint op-ed by Sheryl and Brian Calley in this issue of Focus, that speaks to the role digital tools played in helping some businesses not only survive, but thrive. 

Joining us at the virtual discussion were: 

LUSH YUMMIES | Jennifer Lyles had a successful pie business, but grocery stores limited their purchases during the pandemic. Lyles was able to start up a successful e-commerce site and even made Oprah Winfrey’s coveted “Favorite Things” list. 

ELLE JAE ESSENTIALS LLC | La’Asia Johnson has replaced the income previously earned through her retail location by utilizing Facebook and Instagram marketing tools. 

DETROIT TRAINING CENTER | Patrick Beal says that Facebook is far and away his best messaging tool, which he uses to share information on his training services. Beal has a large and loyal following that he has grown over the years.  

ITA YOGA STUDIO | What does a successful yoga studio do when in-person classes aren’t possible? Ita Reyes first created online classes and utilized Facebook’s Video On Demand Library, which allowed her to expand her reach to new audiences.  

CHANGE HAPPENS, LLC | Mia Reid is a Clinical Mental Health Therapist specializing in grief and loss. Using Facebook and other online platforms has provided her additional reach to patients, as well as opportunities to grow her brand through media and speaking engagements.  

EVERYBODY BY DUTTON FARMS | Jenny Brown created her company to be a source of employment for adults with disabilities. At the height of the pandemic, Brown’s team worked around the clock to produce and ship hand sanitizer.  

AMERICAN CONEY ISLAND | A Michigan establishment, American Coney Island has been in business for over 100 years. Grace Keros knew she’d have to come up with something to survive the restaurant closures and then the significantly reduced foot traffic in downtown Detroit. Enter the American Coney Island Kit—everything you need to create an at-home coney dog.  

BE-FIT INC., SWEET POTATO DELIGHTS | Dr. Velonda Anderson knows the health benefits of sweet potatoes, and she enthusiastically shares her insight and recipes to her followers.  

HOUSE OF PURE VIN | Regina Gaines turned to Facebook to host successful virtual wine tastings during the pandemic. This allowed Gaines to reach a new audience online and grow her business.  

My role during this event was to listen and learn. Some of the takeaways I heard that I think we can all relate to are: 

Don’t be afraid to try something new. 

Consider how you can make champions out of your current customers: Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for help sharing information about your products, service or events.  

You are the expert in your field. Share your insight! 

Use the reporting and insight tools built into most online tools so you can measure effectiveness. 


Sarah Miller is SBAM’s Vice President, Marketing and Strategic Communications.  
You can reach her at sarah.miller@sbam.org. 

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