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Moving from entrepreneur to small business owner

By Paula Anderson

Former Dell ® executive is utilizing his background in supplier diversity, sales and procurement to develop and sustain entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Brian Marshall, director of entrepreneurship for Business Community Lenders of Texas (BCL), an economic development organization that offers homebuyer education, personal finance, entrepreneurship, small business lending and access to capital and real estate development for low-to-moderate income families.

According to Marshall, his career in corporate American and his firsthand experience with diversity an inclusion over that 15 year career, which included selling to small minority firms, leading internal diversity initiatives with employee workgroups, supporting the local chambers and managing billions of supplier diversity procurement dollars targeting women, minorities and veterans prepared him for the work that he is doing today.

This past foundation has led to his current role, which entails working with entrepreneurs and small business owners to grow and sustain business models that can support wealth building.

According to Marshall, he has worked with over 450 firms a year and for the past five years at BCL program and helped over 2,200 firms.


Courtesy Photo of Brian K. Marshall

"Many entrepreneurs focus on living out a dream, but don’t let your passion put you in the poor house!," said Marshall.

He recommends that business owners focus on cash flow and become an “opportunity entrepreneur” not a “necessity entrepreneur” when starting a business. He notes that, an opportunity entrepreneur has a plan of action to grow a business from the infancy stages before taking risks whereas a necessity entrepreneur loses a primary source of income and now has to scramble to maintain personal income.

Understanding how to structure and sustain a business model requires a shift from entrepreneurship, which is a temporary business model that focuses on validation of an idea, or passion, to small business model, that seeks long term success in a given market, either local or regional and in some industries, global.

However, Marshall stated, “Many businesses stay in startup purgatory for many years because they don’t have any financial goals.”

His track record with small business owners allows him to identify businesses that are weak and require a Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT)analysis to move forward.

“I have two categories - ‘a hot mess and a mess’. With a “a hot mess” firm, the entrepreneur can’t be developed because they will not listen and is not disciplined and doesn't want to change; “a mess” entrepreneurial firm can be coached and developed”, said Marshall.

Marshall’s five years at BCL has given him insight on ways to help businesses move to the next level based on testing an idea or a potential solution using a scientific method.

Although many entrepreneurs start out with an idea, the pathway to growth requires evaluating the business revenue and your household income to manage and sustain cash flow according to Marshall.

He poses this question - “What are we doing?” to understand what the goals are and how it will be achieved. What are the business’ - SWOT analysis.

Overall, despite the many challenges for entrepreneurs and small business owners who have faced changes in their business, Marshall still believes now is a great time to be an entrepreneur because it is during crises that new opportunities are found or created and shares these final thoughts.

"The key is for many entrepreneurs, especially minority firms.

Be sure you are ready, emotionally, mentally, and most importantly, financially.” Remember, don’t let your passion, put you in the poor house."

To learn more about Brian K. Marshall and BCL, visit

To watch the full interview, click below.

Paula Anderson is a professional journalist. She can be reached at


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