BizBox: The Entrepreneurial Dream Team

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Office Depot provides services to help entrepreneurs start a business and achieve success.

By Nona Phinn

BizBox promises to transform the world of startups.

I attended an entrepreneurship workshop and heard the worst advice that has ever been given. The attendees in the room, me included, were told that if we were looking to start a business based on our passion or love for a particular skill we possess, don’t do it.

This advice was based on the hard work and daily grind of having to wear numerous personnel hats as a small business owner. It’s true — small business owners become payroll, human resources, marketing, IT, accounting, etc., when all they may have wanted to do was sell their artwork or fix cars.

The presenter then informed us that wearing all these hats will only kill that initial passion and love we started with. That passion will no longer give us peaceful fulfillment or be the center of our lives.

It didn’t take long before I tuned out the presenter, for I believe that your passion equates to your purpose. Your career should be that thing you would do for free if money was no problem. This is a cliché, but it is so true. Though you may not be interested in embodying the entire organizational chart of your own business, it should not cause you to place a big red stop sign along your career path. There are many reasons I could list to convince you why, but one exciting reason has hit the scene, and it promises to transform the world of startups.

Introducing BizBox, Office Depot’s one-stop digital platform where entrepreneurs can begin building their dreams with a team from the onset. Through BizBox, small business owners have access to all the resources, tools, and expertise they require to not only do what they love but also to run their businesses successfully. Need a website? BizBox does that. Need accounting or bookkeeping services? BizBox does that. How about HR or payroll services? You guessed it — BizBox does that. And it’s all available at the fingertips of entrepreneurs who are bold enough to put their dreams into action but who may not be quite sure which actions to take every step of the way.

Kevin Moffitt, SVP, Chief Retail Officer for Office Depot, agrees that running your own business is no easy task and encompasses so much more than merely doing the thing you love. “A lot of people who start with a dream, whatever that core dream is that they’re excited about, once they get into running the business, it can wear them down, and they end up losing that passion for why they got into business in the first place,” Moffitt explains.

However, this is not an excuse to throw in the towel or never put that first foot forward to see that passion create a new reality through business. “We want that passion ignited far into the future by helping to take care of some of the more menial parts of the business and, frankly, some exciting pieces too, but not necessarily the things that you are an expert in as the business owner,” Moffitt mentions.

This unmet need in the market came to light for Office Depot when Gerry Smith joined the company as CEO in February 2017. He had been working with his son on starting a business and was taken aback by the number of Google searches it took just to understand how to begin. Smith continued to be dismayed as he learned how many different service providers were required to get a new business up and running. Aspiring business owners are met with many daunting tasks before they can even officially register a business name. A flood of a thousand questions, from “Where do I find a trustworthy lawyer?” to “What are the requirements of my state and county?” becomes an overwhelming expectation.

After searching for a simpler solution, the Office Depot team realized one did not yet exist. “This unmet need represented a real opportunity, and the more we worked on it, we realized that there really wasn’t anyone that we could find that provided this holistic view of all the business services that you need under a single umbrella. So we took that idea and ran with it,” Moffitt recounts.

Before the end of 2017, Office Depot had BizBox ready to support the small businesses it believes had been waiting for its arrival. For entrepreneurs who prefer the in-person touch, the company launched its in-store BizBox presence at Office Depots in Austin, Texas. It’s a test market to help the company understand how to best infuse BizBox into Office Depots nationwide, according to Moffitt.

This aggressive launch was vital to the Office Depot team, as they were certain BizBox was the answer entrepreneurs needed. For 32 years, Office Depot has been taking care of businesses. The very premise of Office Depot and the reason for its existence is to help businesses become more successful. BizBox is its expanded view on how to do so.

In a marketplace where over 400,000 small businesses start each year (U.S. Small Business Administration, 2017) and millennials are setting the precedent of daring to face business ownership head-on, Office Depot wanted to change the narrative. Right now, 20 percent of small businesses fail in their first year, and by year five, 50 percent call it quits (InsuranceQuotes.com, 2017).

Rewriting this story is so vital to Office Depot that the company has made it a benchmark of success.

Office Depot desires to show and tell that the startups that partner with BizBox have a better success rate. By allowing BizBox to become an extension of their companies, small business owners can find the tenacity needed to go the distance and stay the course for the long haul. The BizBox dream is to see more entrepreneurs still in business when years six, seven, 15, and 20 approach.

The impact then will be that more and more individuals with a business dream will no longer resist their own heartbeats, but instead they will heed the call within themselves and take the step into small business ownership. “My dream, the biggest possible picture, is that we actually have an impact on the number of startups that happen in this country because we provide the tool set to facilitate that — to help people take their dreams and bring them into reality,” Moffitt states.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I know — it’s another cliché, but it’s also another one that is true. Many times, dreams remain just that because they seem so far-fetched or nearly impossible to become your real life. I say if it doesn’t feel this way, then you are not dreaming big enough. Here is a final call to all those aspiring to wear or already wearing their entrepreneurial hats: You have a will. Now here is a company helping to make a way!

I want to encourage more people to get out there and take the leap,” Moffitt says. “Then those who do, I want to be right there and help partner with them to keep their dreams going.”

REFERENCES
InsuranceQuotes.com. (2017, June 16). Why do businesses fail? A study of failing U.S. business. Retrieved from https://www.insurancequotes.com/business/why-do-businesses-fail
U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy. (2017, August). Frequently asked questions about small business. Retrieved from https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/advocacy/SB-FAQ-2017-WEB.pdf

Nona Phinn is the Founder and CEO of THuS Marketing and Branding Services, a firm that helps personal and corporate brands communicate their mission in an intimate and profound way. Through her firm, Phinn gets to do what she loves best: create and implement strategies that get to the heart of marketing.

Photography provided by Office Dept