With this being national Small Business Week, close to 100 South Sound entrepreneurs met at Tacoma’s STAR Center for day one of Pierce County’s Small Business Summit.

Organized by Paul T. Long of Timberland Bank, the Summit featured four speakers related to “Service” businesses. Today’s talks came from CEO Tom Pierson of Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber; Kieran Murry, Ignite-U; Rusty George, Rusty George Creative; and architect Neitha Wilkey.

“Service is about helping people,” Wilkey says. “It’s not all about making money,” in explaining how she and her partner in James Guerrero Architects survived the Great Recession.

“One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do is trim back our staff,” she explains, where employees agreed to work for 80 percent of their prior to recession pay rates. “It’s really hard when you have to tell your co-workers, your friends, that you just can’t afford to pay them.”

When sales activity drastically slows down in a Service company, Wilkey advises, management needs to trim its most expensive cost (staff) and do it sooner, rather than later. Fortunately, her company has now seen enough recovery to return the staff to full earnings. There is still debt to repay, however.

Reaction to her candid, heartfelt remarks from the audience of small business owners was very knowing and supportive to Wilkey's situation.

The Small Business Summit continues on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. If you would like to hear four speakers on Product-Based Businesses and their marketing, employee teamwork, access to funding and Cupcake Challenges, $20 admission can be purchased at the door. Click here for more details.