Small businesses drive big impact. According to the SBA, more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the US each year. That’s why we were so excited to connect with the small businesses of Atlanta last week at the Salesforce Small Business Basecamp event. Networking, innovation, entrepreneurial advice, a Shark Tank-style pitch contest, and advice from one of the NFL’s greatest coaches — the event had something to offer for everyone. And you don’t have to live in Atlanta to benefit from these four lessons learned.

1. Adaptability is key to sustained growth.

The  importance of adaptability was highlighted in the panel session, Life in the Fast Lane: Navigating the Atlanta Entrepreneur’s World, moderated by Brent Leary, partner at analyst firm CRM Essentials. Brooks Robinson, CEO at Springbot, shared how important it is for the executives of a small company to be available to all employees. He’s founded three businesses now, and he makes it a point to take each employee to lunch when they start, because "once you grow to 100 employees, it becomes really hard to connect with everyone.”  Fostering an open culture where everyone shares ideas, regardless of title or level in the company, is what has helped create a killer culture at Robinson’s companies.

Rob Forman, COO at Salesloft, discussed the importance of flexibility. In today’s constantly changing business world, you have to be prepared for change if you want your business to thrive. Encouraging attendees that flexibility can help overcome adversity, Forman advised, "Be adaptable and create an environment that fosters adaptability.”

Atlanta Salesforce Basecamp Pop up

2. Engaging and empowering employees increases motivation.

Curiosity, diligence, and passion motivated Dan Reeves, former NFL player and coach, in his career, but he found additional ways to motivate his players. During a 7-game losing streak with the New York Giants, Reeves discovered the importance of involving his team in decision-making so they felt empowered and were more motivated to succeed. By letting some of his Giants players help choose the plays, he jumpstarted morale and ended the streak. When asked how he got to be so successful, Reeves also shared a few life lessons, like the key to a successful marriage: “Marriage isn’t 50/50 — it’s 100/100.”

3. Marketing is not optional.

We learned in a Shark Tank-style pitch contest that marketing and messaging are two key factors to entrepreneurial success. Five local entrepreneurs took the stage to share their businesses — which ranged from learning tools to empowering tees for kids. What did these successful entrepreneurs have in common? They all agreed that having a solid, well-thought marketing plan has been the key to getting their fledgling businesses up and running.  In today’s hyper-connected world, it can be hard for young companies to cut through the noise. Small businesses must take advantage of every marketing opportunity out there to succeed and grow your business. Marketing never sleeps.

4. Salesforce is for small businesses too.

Have you ever thought Salesforce was only for the really big fish out there? Well, spoiler alert! My CRM 101: Salesforce for Growing Businesses session debunked that myth. I delivered a brief presentation on CRM for growing businesses, highlighting how Salesforce helps them find more leads, win more deals, keep customers happy, and connect everything they do with applications to customize their CRM experience. The best part about Salesforce?  It’s low-code/no-code and mobile so you can do your business from anywhere, and the solutions scale with you as you grow.

One lesson we hope everyone took away from Small Business Basecamp is about “Ohana,” the Hawaiian word for “family.” We use it at Salesforce to mean not only a family of employees, but a family of customers too. Salesforce is not just for enterprises, we help small businesses grow every single day.    

Want to experience the Small Business Basecamp for yourself? Join us at our Chicago popup event on April 11 and get hands-on advice for growing your business. Meet with experts from Salesforce, along with partners Facebook, Zenefits, Sage, Chase for Business, RelationEdge, and more for a powerful half-day growth extravaganza. You’ll get hands-on advice for running your business, working more efficiently, and building close connections with customers. And best of all, it’s FREE. Learn more and register here.

Salesforce can help you find customers, win their businesses, and keep them happy so you can grow your business faster than ever. Learn more about our small business CRM solutions or join the conversation with #SalesforceGROW.