The Small Business Beanstalk is a local-first company dedicated to the growth and development of small businesses in Central Ohio. Currently, more than 400 businesses are SBB members.
Perhaps you have an SBB Community Card, but aren’t sure if membership makes sense for your company. To help you make that determination, we’ve asked Wolf Starr, CEO of the SBB, and Charles Erickson, chief development officer for the SBB, to answer some basic questions about the organization.
In the following interview, they also share their goals for the SBB and details about its first small business awards gala.
The Metropreneur: First off, what are the advantages to being an SBB member?
Charles Erickson: Membership initially focuses on increasing traffic through customer use of the SBB Community Card, but its long-term success comes from the relationships we build with our members and our ability to connect them with opportunities for promotion, sales and media exposure, as well as connecting them with other local businesses that can help support their needs as a business.
[M]: For the uninitiated, what is the SBB Community Card?
CE: We launched the SBB Community Card in December of 2009 and have distributed over 90,000 to date. The purpose of the SBB Community Card program is to support retail businesses by extending awareness of their brand and increasing traffic to their physical or online locations. This is further accomplished by leveraging relationships we have with various organizations and influential members of the community.
[M]: What inspired you to start the SBB?
Wolf Starr: The SBB was originally formed as a business-to-business concierge group. After a half decade of running blue collar businesses, I had friends that were graduating from college and needed help finding the resources and relationships that I had developed. The B2B services are still a very important component of our program and businesses take our survey everyday to help them find great local deals on everything from security alarms to office supplies. In late 2009, we came up with the card concept and it allowed us to connect the community directly with our members.
[M]: What are your goals for the SBB?
WS: We want The SBB to continue to grow. We want to see our members’ small businesses grow. We want to continue to increase our value to our members. We want Columbus to shop local more. We are working with Support our Local Economy & the Economic and Community Development Institute to reach the communities that need us the most.
We are also focused on supporting the Central Ohio community by pushing new ventures, like the mobile food industry, by being an active partner with the Food Fort. We help host events like Independents’ Day and we are helping to create a local retail pop-up concept for the holiday season that will make a huge difference for many of our members.
[M]: There’s a rumor that the SBB will be handing out local business awards this year. Details?
WS: We are working with our friends at the Bluestone to throw an awards gala that will showcase the art of owning a small business. We will be presenting awards in a Grammy/Emmy format featuring great local music from bands like the Phantods, Wet Darlings, Karate Coyote, Andy Shaw & G. Finess.
Admission is free. However, space is limited, so far we have only opened registration for our business owners and their employees. After each business has requested their tickets, we will start to distribute cards to the general public via Facebook competitions, neighborhood scavenger hunts, and showing your card at select member businesses.
The very funny Travis Hoewisher will be emceeing the event and we have a star-studded team of local business icons, and our friends from the media, to present the awards. Naturally, we are also laying out the red carpet for our guests and setting up an open happy hour featuring some of our favorite food carts.
[M]: Who should a business owner contact if they want to become an SBB member?
WS: The best way to reach us is to send a note from the “Contact Us” on our website, TheSBB.com. Our operations manager, Alex Rider, will send your information to the most ideal member of our team.
[M]: Is there anything else you think we should know?
WS: Nominations for the awards gala can be submitted through our Facebook page at Facebook.com/thesbb.
CE: Throughout the year, the SBB supports a large number of non-profits and other community organizations through donations to silent auctions, raffles, door prizes, and gift bags for event volunteers. Our efforts have resulted in tens of thousands of dollars worth of goods given back to the community at large.