Plain and simple, small-business owners need focused initiatives that will infuse their businesses with capital and people. They need ideas that help drive sales, and resources to help them find financing that actually works for their individual situations. (The national/federal loan programs are largely broken. Read Professor Scott Shane’s post about where small-business owners really get funds; less than three percent come from SBA loans for capital expansion.)
Unfortunately, there are too many well-known initiatives out there that simply aren't delivering, but, if you know where to look, there are also some very helpful resources aimed at local businesses.
Small Business Initiatives Worth Checking Out
Independent We Stand is a cool effort sponsored by Stihl (the chainsaw people). Although, still in its infancy it has the potential to help showcase local businesses.
Small Business Saturday is sponsored by American Express and it works. Almost three million people have liked it on Facebook and it has encouraged many consumers to shop small and local.
Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is admirable and appears to be helping local ventures. They committed $500 million to help small business.
SBDCnet is a little-known resource for getting your business started or expanding it. This Website is packed with lots of great resources including market research reports on popular small-business opportunities. From coffee shops to starting a janitorial cleaning service, you’ll find good stuff here. (Note: There were a few links that led me to independent sites that I questioned, but overall it is a very strong resource site.)
The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (aka BALLE) offers resources for communities and local businesses. Think of them as LinkedIn for your local community but with membership dues like a Chamber of Commerce.
Create Jobs for USA is co-sponsored by Starbucks and the Opportunity Finance Network. Ultimately, jobs come from small businesses, so the program is aimed at helping owners get cash to hire.
Cash mobs are very on-trend, lately. Although it is not one entity, but hundreds of them around the USA and world, this small group is organizing an IndieGoGo fundraising campaign to get organized and provide more resources to local efforts. I’m not convinced that cash mobs will survive over time, but if they inject cash into a struggling local business I’m all for it. (For more on cash mobs, check out Katie Morell's article "How To Attract A Cash Mob.")
And lastly, if you’re looking for a local, regional, or national event, then you’ll want to check out Small Business Trends bi-weekly listing of events.