Which is scarier? Beginning a new business when you’ve always worked for others, or trying to keep your existing business running when COVID-19 has devasted so much of the economy and your client base?

Neither needs to be scary when you have others on whom you can share ideas, best practices, or from whom to ask questions and seek advice. For members of MPI, the group to turn to is the Independent and Small Business Owners (ISBO).

Each month ISBO hosts CommuniTEA, a monthly gathering of globally-based MPI members brought together to socialize and discuss issues relevant to ISBO members. Many have owned small and independent business owners pre-pandemic, while others have altered their course due to COVID-19 economic fallout. To survive and continue working in the hospitality, meetings & events industries, each person has had to expand services to already-existing businesses or to use learned skills to initiate a business. CommuniTEA provides opportunities to ask questions, exchange ideas, offer best practices, and above all, support one another.

Each hour-long session begins with 15-second intros by each person, as well as a response to the question-of-the-day, which reveals more personal insights. This is followed by participation in small group breakouts. Each person has a chance to express themself in an open, positive exchange of ideas. Members participating on the March gathering come from the U.S, Canada and Europe.

In honor of Women’s Month, the question-of-the-day was “What female has inspired you?”

The popular answer was Mom, followed closely by daughters. Other answers given were best friend, grandma, local community leader, CEOs from two different companies, and business managers the participants had had. Two unique answers were Oprah Winfrey and the former president of the MPI Toronto, Canada chapter.

What significant leadership skill do you deem most valuable? Here the answers ranged from patience to creativity, empathy, laughter, flexibility, and determination to follow through. Other answers included problem solving, walking the talk, and willingness to try new techniques. Also, innovation, trust, communication, perseverance, and resilience.

What leadership skills do you possess or are needed to start up and keep a business running?

The responses ranged from  reconnect with people you haven’t seen even if for years, former colleagues, to join new small business groups, such as a Chamber of Commerce to reach a wider audience. Learn to laugh to reduce stress, be curious and find purpose by being open and willing to give back. Be flexible, transformational, and change with the times. Communicate. Trust yourself to make right decisions even if they aren’t your first reaction. Acquire new financial management skills. Align yourself with another businessperson so that your combined strengths and skills are an asset.

Network, network, network. Face your fear. Reach out to people who have inspired you for their input.

And above all: ask others about the multitude of resources that might be readily available. MPI offers many webinars and ISBO has an Education Committee exploring more opportunities for which Independent and Small Business Owners may rely and learn.

Next month’s CommuniTEA is slated for April 27. The topic is “failure.”

Register here. It may be the easiest business decision you make today.