By Terrance Vaughan
Kate Rogers joined CNBC in September 2014 as a reporter covering small business and entrepreneurship for the network. Her reporting appears on CNBC’s Business Day programming as well as CNBC Digital.
Having spent most of her journalistic career covering small business, Rogers is no stranger to observing the trends of successful businesses. She travels the country to investigate and pull back the hood on small businesses and to give people like us a glimpse of the engines that make them run.
Comcast Business and CNBC’s The Profit teamed up for Small Business Week to host a series of panels across the country. After the Chicago event, we were eager to learn more about both her experience and one-of-a-kind small business insight. We were lucky enough to catch her for an exclusive one-on-one conversation. Here’s what she had to say:
The Idea Forge: What’s your favorite small businesses you’ve covered so far?
Kate Rogers: One of my favorite businesses is called AHeirloom in Brooklyn. I profiled them as Etsy was getting ready to go public in 2015—they sell handcrafted artisanal cheeseboards in the shapes of states—so quirky and unique. They made the boards originally as wedding favors, and realized they were onto something as orders began to pour in online. During the holiday season, they were hitting six figures a month in sales—so impressive, and they were incredibly dedicated and kind. I loved that an idea like that had brought this couple such success.
What’s one piece of advice would you give someone starting a business today?
To go for it. The business owners I meet and interview continue to inspire me with their courage and ability to see the positive even when their prospects may not be great, or the economy is challenging. They tend to remain optimistic and forge ahead, and that’s something we can all learn from.
What are some steps people can take in order to innovate a struggling business?
Listen to your customer base. Getting feedback from the people who will be instrumental in your success can help you improve and hopefully stay afloat. Also take a hard look at your leadership and staff. Teamwork is always important and understanding where your problems begin can help you turn things around.
What advice would you give entrepreneurs trying to get their business noticed by major media?
Research, research, research! Always research the reporter, publication or network you are reaching out to and make sure it’s a good fit. With the internet, local media and television, there are so many options to find the right placement for your story. Also be direct and to the point in your pitch, just like you would be with an investor. And don’t be afraid to reach out via email or phone—go for it, you’ve already taken a big leap in starting a business. This is the next step.
How can these types of small business panels help up-and-coming entrepreneurs?
Listen to the lessons of entrepreneurs who’ve found success on stage and try to learn from them. I often try to get actionable advice from entrepreneurs on these panels so that those in the audience can have advice on how to build brands and businesses of their own. And don’t be afraid to ask questions—participants are up there to share their story with you, so take their time and advice and run with it.
In the ever-evolving world entrepreneurship, connecting with people like Kate Rogers makes for an excellent opportunity to continue educating oneself. Stay tuned to her work on CNBC Business Day for more small business insight.