Noleen, who is marketing director for the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado, teamed up with other small business proponents to present a widely varied schedule of events for the week, June 17-21.
She took some time this week to talk to the Business Journal about the events, how they came together and small business in general.
How long have you been with the BBB and what do you do there?
I joined the Better Business Bureau as the director of marketing and events in December 2012. One of my first tasks was to take a look at our product offerings and events to determine what made sense and what needed to be tweaked to ensure that the greatest level of benefit was being provided to our BBB Accredited Businesses, consumers and the greater business community.
With more than 40 events annually, this undertaking has involved a lot of reflection and commitment to the community. As a Colorado Springs native and wife of a small business owner, that is something that I was already on board with.
What is Small Business Week and how did it get its start?
Small Business Week has traditionally been a one-day event. After the 2012 event wrapped, Small Business Development Center Executive Director Aikta Marcoulier and I discussed how our organizations could take the event up a few notches to bring even more value to the area.
The result of our brainstorming session is what is now known as Small Business Week (SBW): five days of events dedicated to area small businesses. The Small Business Week presenting sponsor is Adams Bank & Trust.
What events are planned for the week, and why should small businesses participate?
The theme of SBW 2013 is “boost your professional fitness for strategic success” and was a driving force in how each subtopic was selected as well as in determining the format of the week. There are a total of six opportunities for business-minded community members to participate in. Each is incredibly robust in terms of the caliber of speakers and varying subject matters being discussed.
Monday sets the week up with the topic of networking and is geared toward professionals that not only want an opportunity for face time but to understand the hows and whys in making networking effective. Tuesday is media day, where panelists will share insights as to how to get free coverage by engaging media outlets.
Wednesday is an important topic, “Grow Smart,” and is dedicated to the strategy behind small business growth. Thursday panelists will discuss the life cycle of a social enterprise model, a relatively new business approach that ties in supporting a cause to one’s bottom line in a strategic and sustainable manner. Monday through Thursday are evening events.
Friday shifts to a morning seminar focused on how to take the knowledge gained from the week and apply it in their day-to-day operations. The week culminates with an award luncheon where area businesses will be honored in categories such as Small Business Person, Family-Owned Business and Small Business Champion. The week wraps with a keynote address from Weldon Long, an ex-convict turned successful small-business owner, motivational speaker and New York Times bestselling author.
RSVPs are required for all events, http://southerncolorado.bbb.org/. Events June 17-20 are free to attend until capacity is met. On June 21 the morning seminar is $25 a person, luncheon is $40 a person, and attending both the seminar and luncheon is $55.
Who is involved in the local planning for Small Business Week, and has the collaboration offered other, unintended benefits?
The event has been made possible by the efforts of the SBW planning committee chaired by Robin Roberts of Pikes Peak National Bank. This collaboration has realized a number of unintended benefits — most specifically in the growing number of organizations participating in one manner or another. When the BBB and SBDC initially co-communicated SBW, there were some early adopters who grasped the vision and others that were not quite as sure. Now, we are receiving interest in partnering with us in the future. Our two organizations truly want to provide for the community and improve what this region has to offer its small businesses.
How would you rate the strength of small businesses in the Pikes Peak Region compared to other areas? What are some of the biggest challenges for local small businesses?
Our strengths are continuing to grow. According to Thumbtack.com, Colorado Springs earned higher marks in 2013 than Denver in business-centric categories like “ease of starting a business, overall friendliness and health and safety.” This report also remarks that Colorado Springs has improved year-over-year in its supports of small businesses.
Some of the biggest challenges we hear from BBB Accredited Businesses are economic uncertainty, successful marketing to gain and retain customers, stretching tight budgets and managing behind-the-scenes details of running a business. SBW speaks to these challenges, and the Friday award luncheon keynote will offer specific tips from Long’s “Power of Consistency” program.