Put Me In, Coach: USA Today Promotes Small Business Growth

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The air practically buzzes with chatter about helping small businesses these days. Widely viewed as the biggest gear in the country’s ongoing economic recovery, small business is getting a boost at the federal level and from those who advocate for them.

Now USA Today is getting back in on the action. After kicking off their 2010 Small Business Challenge, which provided resources to six small businesses and tracked their progress over the course of a year, USA Today is bringing the same effort back in 2011. It’s been scaled down slight—three businesses are up this time, each to be matched with a small business coach—but it’s still a worthy effort.

Unlike last year’s challenge, which came amid a still-struggling economic environment, USA Today is offering guidance in an improving job and lending market. Access to capital is still a major challenge for small businesses, but now businesses may just need advice and help as much as they need finance:

“Small businesses have been playing on the defensive side so much — they’ve conserved cash, cut costs and trimmed staff for two to three years,” says Dan Murphy, co-founder of the business-coaching franchise The Growth Coach. “But now there is renewed optimism. They’re starting to see some hope.”

USA Today is banking on that optimism. They’ve paired three companies from Oregon to Florida with a diverse set of coaches, ranging from southern belle and famous chef Paula Deen to Jim Koch of the Boston Brewing Co., in the hopes of offering these burgeoning businesses with a leg up. The coaches have real experience creating and marketing a brand, and the businesses have enough start-up experience to be headed in the right direction already.

For small businesses and observers like myself, this promises to be an interesting exercise. Updates will be delivered on a bi-weekly basis, and some of the (hopefully) great advice being doled out by these celebrity coaches should trickle into the USA Today articles. That alone makes them worth a read. If you can find a road map to success in what these companies are doing, so much the better.

Do you plan to follow the USA Today updates? Let’s talk about it in the comments.


Photo credit to tutu55 at http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=528612


  1. Yes, I am planning to follow USA’s updates. Thanks for sending out that Twitter feed. It will be interesting to see what their findings are. The issues affecting small business are so wide reaching that we all have to do our part to make a difference. Road maps are extremely important but we need individuals to actually follow them. You’ll find that these business owners need an accountability partner, a business consultant or coach to move them forward on their path to success.

  2. Very well said. I think the problem for many small businesses is finding that partner, that consultant or that coach to guide them, or coming up with the capital to make that a reality. Definitely a difficult proposition for some.

  3. The problem is both. and when you are not in a position for a large loan you can’t get the people so you end up going it alone- which is not an easy task.

  4. I don’t have a “small business”…..I have a MICRO-BUSINESS, and my major problem is getting new customers. We are in the medical industry, and I am a viet-nam veteran, and a minority….I don’t use that as an excuse but as a reason to push harder to succeed.
    However, I could use some help. LOL
    don’t want to ‘beg’ or ‘borrow’ to raise capital. We have been operating on the income from sales to pay for everything we need to expand and increase our business.

  5. Our problem is getting media attention about our history without paying huge advertising fees. This August 12, will be our 50th year in business. We expect to reach $100,000 in sales this year. We were the first restaurant in Goldsboro, NC to integrate. That’s historical! I beleive when we receive some media attention our sales will escalate. Within the next 60 days we will be in an additional 30- 40 different locations in North Carolina not incuding A Southern Season in Chapel Hill NC. We are expanding aggressively with Harris Teeter. Our total retailers wil be approximately 140 locations in North Carolina. We are adding an online shopping cart by the end of this month also.

    Thank you.

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