Some of the top issues that challenge growth for small businesses and entrepreneurs are access to capital, access to a network of qualified leads and access to mentors or experts that they can learn from. As part of NYSE's Big Startup Initiative, Yelp was able to join forces with microlender Accion to develop the Small Business Connections Tour, a nationwide series of free workshops aimed at providing business owners with high demand education to address these issues.
(photos courtesy of accionusnetwork)
Small Business Connections just wrapped up in San Diego, CA after hitting 10 major U.S. cities. The curriculum shared during these town hall style meet-ups provided business owners with an opportunity to:
- Learn how to attract more business through Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
- Learn how to access capital via microlender Accion
- Hear from other local business owners who have developed successful operations
During the tour, Yelp’s Business Outreach team spoke to over 650 business owners from a variety of industries and answered questions from the basic (“What’s Yelp?”) to the more in-depth (“What’s the best way to address online critics?”). Given 85% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last 12 months, Yelp also gave a detailed overview of how businesses can take advantage of the free tools available on major social media platforms.
Feedback from the events was very positive with many attendees mentioning that they walked away with 3-4 concrete ways to improve their business through marketing. People also shared that they enjoyed the opportunity to network with their peers during the breakout sessions to swap ideas about what it takes to grow a successful business. Based on the feedback we received, we achieved our goal of providing business owners with actionable takeaways using real world examples. In case you’re interested, a copy of the full Small Business Connections presentation can be found here.
So what’s next for the Big Startup Initiative in 2013? You’ll have to check out our Blog for Business Owners in the near future to find out.