5 min read
While most people might know Zoe Saldana from starring in movies like Avatar or Guardians of the Galaxy, last week the actor took on the role as host of Facebook’s Boost with Facebook Good Ideas Festival. The virtual event aimed to help small businesses as they navigate the post-pandemic business world.
The business world isn’t alien to Saldana. In 2018, she founded Bese, a digital-media platform that focuses on spotlighting stories from communities that are typically under-representated in mainstream media.
In an interview with Entrepreneur, Saldana talks about the ways technology has evolved for businesses and the importance of amplifying one’s voice in the digital age.
What are the most interesting insights you gleaned while hosting the festival?
How much technology has evolved. Social media isn’t just a social vehicle for people to connect, but a vehicle for businesses to do their [work]. Businesses survive by amplifying and promoting themselves, and how that outreach can multiply really blew my mind.
These small businesses are built by young and brilliant people. But the thing is that they’re young, so they’re making these bold and brave decisions to build that themselves. If we don’t lend that support and help them amplify their messaging and their businesses, then they really have a limited ability to grow.
Covid was a very big pandemic in the sense that not only did it test our health and our lives, but it also tested our businesses and our growth and our dreams. And these are things that are slowly getting back on their feet.
Do you feel like having a presence on social media necessary for small businesses to succeed?
I think so. I would love to be an anarchist and tell you, “Nah, you can do it on your own,” but I think that because we are becoming global citizens that rely so much on our phones, everything that we consume is on the internet — whether it’s our news, where to shop, what to eat. In order for small businesses to have that visibility, they need to have some type of knowledge on how to exist in the digital space.
I’m not a millennial, and technology was something that always was difficult for me to sort of grasp, but after building a business like Bese, I knew that I needed to live on social media.
What do you think is going to be the biggest challenge for businesses now in this post-pandemic environment?
I think that we all learned that less is more. We all got hit so hard when the world took a standstill, but what that brought to us was this reality that less can be more if we are efficient with our time, take care of lifestyles, take care of what we love and nurture our ideas.
In the whole scheme of things, you can be a very small team. But that doesn’t mean that you are small. You can still be a very big and inspiring and moving business, no matter how small you are because of that. It’s not about the smallness of it. It’s just about the efficiency.
I think that having a two-to-five-year plan is very important, because once you set goals or the timeline, you don’t get overwhelmed in the generalization of “making it.” But defining the “it” and giving “it” a timeline will also give you the ability to focus on your life and your wellness in addition to your dreams and your ideas.
When hearing about the stories of these small businesses, did you notice any parallels to your experience growing a business?
When it concerns Bese, I am confident and proud of the content that we build. When I was scaling, I realized that as the algorithms grow and change dramatically, we must evolve in how we view these [technological] vehicles and how we want to reach our community.
We all hop on social media, because we want some type of authentic representation of inspiration. And I feel like the truth always wins. Sincerity will always win.
For young small businesses, the more authentic you are to your voice, the more that will reach people. Even if it’s a community of 50,000 or 500,000, they will respond back to you in a very positive way. So that is something that keeps coming back over and over again.
How does a business figure out how to go about these algorithms?
I think it really depends on what kind of business you have and the goal that you have set out for yourself in terms of what your outreach is going to be. Is it just your local community? Is it your region? Is it the state? Is it the nation?
That will dictate the kind of tools you need to acquire in order for you to understand all your whens and your hows and your wheres.