Sue Malone has spent the past 12 years nurturing her passion for small businesses through her company, Strategies For Small Business. She is deeply involved in both national and local entrepreneurial ecosystems, motivated by the growing trend of entrepreneurs supporting entrepreneurs. Sue was the first woman parking-operator in the United States, the CFO and Vice President of a Northern Californian commercial and industrial real estate firm, has founded over 7 companies, and is a Board Advisor for PEAR’d. She has helped fund over 41,000 small business loans through Strategies For Small Business on top of dedicating countless hours to advocating for startups and small businesses nationwide.
How did you become entrepreneur?
I saw the opportunity. I didn’t even think twice about being an entrepreneur or not—it felt right, it felt good. There was a need for what I was building and developing, so why not do it? Why not go out, give it a try, and see if it works? Make the tweaks, fit the marketplace, and get going. Love the challenge, love the people, and I love making a difference. The good news is that you can’t get fired.
What’s your why?
What motivates me (especially in the work that I’m in) is seeing the success of other entrepreneurs—entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs achieve their goals. Being a vehicle to help others get where they want to be, making a change, making a difference in this world—it all starts with each and every one of us. That’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur. You can make that change and you can make that difference—whether it be locally, county-wide, state-wide, world-wide. It’s totally up to you.
What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of both the national and Atlanta entrepreneurial ecosystems? How would you like to see them develop?
What I see nationwide is that most entrepreneurs (whether they’re in California or Maine) have pretty much the same DNA—they’ve got drive, they’ve got determination, they have the guts and the will to bring their businesses to fruition and continue to do so in an ever changing market. They have true grit to make it all work because (as we all know) being an entrepreneur is not always as easy as it looks.
With regards to the Atlanta market, what I like about Atlanta is the resurgence. There’s a system in place now for entrepreneurs to help other entrepreneurs. It’s an open market. It’s open-minded. It allows people from diverse backgrounds to build their business and be successful with their business. I see it as a really strong community. It’s a community effort for the entrepreneur world. Across the United States, you have little pockets of little regions of stronger entrepreneurship than in others. What you find in each one of those is the same stream: the first group that comes in helps the next group that comes in, helps the next group that comes in, and so on. That fosters a community of entrepreneurship and that’s what Atlanta is currently doing. I’ve seen it in the last several years really blossoming and taking it to the next level.
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The Author: Kristine Santos. Entrepreneur. Anthropologist. Writer. Runs social media and blogging for Atlanta-based startup PEAR’d, a virtual collaboration ecosystem for entrepreneurs. A vegetarian who’s learning how to sew and wants to know all about your startup. Let’s talk on Twitter@PEARdUP