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