Expo East offers community building for businesses
Electronic communication and social media are becoming increasingly large parts of how companies do business. But for all of the ease that technology provides, relationship building and face-to-face interaction are still essential components for business success, according to Ron White. That's one of the goals of BESThq, a Beaverton-based organization that is as much about building a business community as it is about providing incubator space for small businesses.
White, the founder and manager of BESThq, and James Autry, a BESThq board member and executive director of the nonprofit Serving our Neighbors, sat down with the Business Tribune to talk about how the organization helps foster community through events like the the Live2Lead and Business Expo East being held at Camp Withycombe in Clackamas on Nov. 8. The conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Business Tribune: Ron, when you meet someone who doesn't know about BESThq, how do you describe the organization's mission?
Ron White: We started about eight years ago as a collaborative business community. What that means ... is that we're helping to grow and further individuals and businesses through the use of community. In the last eight years, there's really been some clarity of the organization that's connected around what we call the quadruple bottom line. The quadruple bottom line is a way of being, a way of doing business and being a person, that is rooted in the four Ps of people, planet, profit and purpose. ... We're connecting like-minded people, making sure they're not alone on their journey and finding that purpose and making a difference together.
B.T.: That fourth P, the purpose component, seems to be what defines BESThq from a lot of other business-focused organizations that are out there.
White: We think so. In business school, we're taught it's all about the bottom line. We're bringing a broader perspective and helping to sort of incubate that in the form of this business community. What we do as an organization is really about a lot of events. We have about a 7,000-square-foot space in Beaverton with executive suites and we have weekly meetings that connect the members and partners of the community. We really focus in on the community aspect ... doing business with people you know, like and trust. That's really the ethic that we try to bring forward with founding principles of relationship, empowerment and inclusion as hose principles that everybody kind of rallies around.
B.T.: The Portland metro area is growing so quickly, it would seem that it might be difficult for businesses to stay connected. Is BESThq looking at shifting the way it serves as a resource and creates community as a result of that?
White: Our space in Beaverton, we've loved. (However), we're in a facility that's part of an urban renewal area and part of our facility is going to be renewed. So, 2020 is going to (result in) some change in our physical location. We're looking at different options: other places, other venues, other ways of communicating and connecting community.
B.T.: But technology can't completely replace traditional face-to-face interactions, correct?
James Autry: Even though we may do a lot virtually and online, business still does — and probably always will — rely to some extent on face-to-face interaction (because) trust happens inside relationships.
B.T.: So, that's an opportunity the Nov. 8 event at Camp Withycombe will offer. What will people experience if they attend?
White: There are really two parts of the day. The morning part (is) ... John Maxwell featured live to lead rebroadcast.
Autry: We were thinking, 'How do we take this to the eastside and launch it with a bang? A couple of years ago, we did a John Maxwell Live to Lead live broadcast from Atlanta, and he did that a couple of weeks ago out of Atlanta at 300 plus locations around the planet. He's got these amazing speakers. So, we said, why don't we just embed that into the expo? And so that's what we're doing. I have a John Maxwell coach that we're partnered with and he's going to be hosting the event with us.
White: The afternoon is a business-to-business trade show expo. And I'll just note that this is our first one on the eastside, so it's very exciting. We've done eight of these previously on the westside ... (and) we'll typically see about 500 or so business-to-business professionals. It's kind of a big party. The reason why these are important is because ... trust is really important. The face-to-face piece is something that ... needs to happen. But we're so busy in so many different places, our screens in front of us and everything, this is meant to be a very efficient and effective purposeful gathering.
We do have some wonderful door prizes ... and we have four wonderful local organizations (that will benefit from the proceeds). One is Serving our Neighbors as a nonprofit. It also will benefit Clackamas Community College — they have a (military veterans') center. So, we have a theme around veterans that's coming through a number of veterans-related organizations that are going to be on the (tradeshow) floor.
B.T.: It's hard sometimes for small business owners to justify stepping away from their business for a day, but it sounds like there are some definite benefits to attending this event.
White: The cool thing is, it will pay off in a number of different ways. Yes, there's a monetary payoff, but meeting that next person, that like-minded person that might help you wherever you're at on your journey, that's really what this is. That's really the essence of what this is about. Plus, you're helping four great organizations.
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