Milton hosts small business symposium

This article was first published for Appen Media Group.

June 21, 2017

MILTON, Ga. — The city of Milton honored its local businesses June 15 at city hall during the inaugural small business symposium. The event gave them a place to network, especially since half of the city’s business licenses are for home-based businesses, according to Milton’s economic development manager Sarah LaDart.

“Milton is proud of our 393 home based businesses — out of a total of 794 business licenses,” LaDart said.

Many of the more than 40 attendees came to learn more about the business scene in Milton.

Veronica Longstone, owner of Veronica Stone Salon and Color Bar, opened her salon the first day the city of Milton opened in 2006.

“I just want to learn more from the people who have researched the area and seen it grow,” Longstone said. “I want to know more statistics [and] more business strategies, and how to grow with Milton.”

The city decided to host its first small business symposium because of survey responses received from the small business community in the beginning of the year, LaDart said.

The event’s keynote speaker was Kathy Swahn, executive director of the Drake House, who spoke on effective leadership.

“No one is born to be a leader — it is an acquired trait,” Swahn said. “You build up your own self to be what you’re going to be.”

Swahn said several leadership traits are important to have, including taking risks, taking leadership opportunities whenever they are present and getting to know customers and employees better.

Swahn encouraged the symposium’s attendees to read “StrengthsFinder 2.0” by Tom Rath, and she also emphasized the importance of being an inspiration as a business owner.

“You have to inspire,” Swahn said. “You inspire your customers, [and] you inspire your staff. You have aligned your relationships toward a common goal, so no matter what you do in your work, you have to have a common goal.”

After Swahn’s address, the symposium broke out into three, half-hour sessions in which attendees covered topics such as financial wellness, local government policies, social media, marketing and branding and business taxes.

The breakout sessions were led by local business people, like Dianne Lyle, The Edge Connection’s financial program manager, and Trevor Atkins, Cornerstone Printing’s director of print operations. The symposium concluded with a business expo featuring licensed, home-based businesses in Milton.

Throughout the event, business owners had the opportunity to connect and reflect on Swahn’s message.

“Everything is relational,” Swahn said. “I think the longer you are in the work world, the more you figure it out. It’s who you know, not what you know. You take advantage of that.”

LaDart said she believes the event will encourage businesses to work with the city when necessary.

“We hope that this symposium served as an introduction to City Hall and that our businesses will feel more comfortable reaching out to us for assistance when they need us,” LaDart said.

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