Strategies for Small Business Support and Economic Development Organizations
In response to the economic impact of COVID-19 and the coronavirus pandemic, many organizations have stepped up to provide relief funding to local businesses that are at risk. This includes small business support and economic development organizations, such as SBDC's, MEP Centers, Chambers of Commerce and Workforce Boards, as well as community colleges, trade schools, and incubators. Both national and regional economic development organizations are conducting work that is critical to economic recovery. Below are the strategies that these entities can use to meet the rising demand for their services in this new market environment.
The simplest strategy for meeting the growing demand is for organizations to build their capacity to provide core services, including relief funding. To accomplish this, organizations could hire new people or repurpose their current staff. Additionally, using collaboration software or client management software will make existing resources more efficient.
No single organization will be able to meet all of the demand for services in an entire community. Partnering is the best way to help as many businesses as possible. Small business support and economic development organizations should attempt to partner with peers, government entities, and for-profit service providers (like those in marketing and accounting) to create referral networks and more efficient service models. These partnerships will allow all parties to get the most out of the resources available in the community. Additionally, funders might expect this, so it's crucial to stay ahead of the curve.
Offer New Services
Small business support and economic development organizations can provide a wide variety of services beyond just relief funding and other monetary contributions. Additional forms of support include:
- Sharing information
- Providing group sessions for clients with common challenges
- Facilitating peer networks
- Offering one-on-one consultations
- Connecting to other resources
This new environment may require new methods of delivering support, too. For example, organizations may need to provide more group sessions to enable more efficient delivery of services. Organizations should consider adding new approaches to complement the core services they have always offered.
Secure New Funding
As part of the economic recovery funding established by government entities and philanthropic organizations, small business support organizations might be able to secure relief funding themselves. These funds can then provide services and resources to small businesses, thereby strengthening the overall health of the economy. However, organizations must submit strong proposals that demonstrate effective service models, collaboration with partners, and reliable systems for reporting and accountability.
Implement a Model for Client Selection
Economic development organizations cannot help every small business that inquires. For one, they may not have the expertise in the areas that a potential client requests. In these cases, the best that they can do is refer clients to other organizations. In other cases, the business may have a low chance of survival. Given their limited resources and mission to deliver impact in the community, an economic development organization's ability to pick the right clients to support will be key to making the biggest difference. Setting clear parameters for client selection will make the decision process more manageable.
Cureo Will Improve Your Capacity to upport Small Businesses
Cureo's innovative collaboration platform is an excellent tool for small business support organizations and economic development associations of all kinds, allowing them to operate smoothly and implement the strategies that will help them meet the increasing demand for their services. Cureo:
- Makes it easier to collaborate with colleagues, peers, and partner organizations in the provision of services, the development of grant proposals, and the selection of businesses to support.
- Gives staff members more capacity to manage one-on-one consulting work through better coordination, communication, and oversight.
- Enables your organization to be the facilitator of peer networks.
- Provides visibility into the organization's activities across different clients to help with reporting to funders and enabling learning and continuous improvement within the organization.
When It Comes to Small Business Support and Economic Development Organizations, Cureo Is:
Powerful: Tools include discussion groups, file sharing, shared calendars, task management, activity tracking, and more
Fast: Teams can start collaborating in minutes.
Affordable: FREE subscriptions are available with unlimited users and up to three channels and two admins. Paid subscriptions are typically $100-200 per month.
Easy: Most team members can collaborate using only their email account. There is no software to learn, no new downloads, and no installs. Cureo does not burden your IT staff, and full support is available with both free and paid accounts.
Flexible: You can easily add channels and admins as circumstances change.