By Rachel Bowdon, Director of Marketing and Communications
Submitted by GoDaddy
As a Small Business Administration Resource Partner and Women’s Business Center, the Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship (WCEC) is a 501c3 that works with women and BIPOC-owned small businesses from the startup stage to existing small businesses looking to scale up. They offer a variety of educational resources, business counseling, quality programs, career training, technical assistance, and access to COVID-19 relief and recovery funding.
In order to help struggling small businesses impacted by COVID-19 and adjust to the post-COVID world, the WCEC Women’s Business Center recently developed an eCommerce Expansion Program. The objective of the program is to help women and BIPOC entrepreneurs expand and maximize the eCommerce capabilities of their businesses to ensure lasting recovery and long-term growth beyond the pandemic.
When one of their staff members discovered the Main Street Online, a tool developed by Main Street America in partnership with GoDaddy to help businesses grow and strengthen their online and e-commerce capabilities, they decided to incorporate it into their programming.
We recently sat down with Rana Shanawani, WCEC Executive Director, Lelani Clark, WCEC PR manager, and Rose Chery, WCEC e-commerce expansion program manager, to ask why they decided to use the Main Street tool and how they have found it to be valuable.
How has COVID-19 affected your organization’s ability to assist small businesses?
The COVID-19 pandemic forced our organization to pivot and shift our programming from in-person to virtual classes and events. We were glad to see an uptick in attendance for our virtual classes since our small business clients enjoyed the convenience of online learning while working remotely and were really interested in how they could gain access to funding, such as PPP loans, EIDL loans, grants, and additional COVID-19 relief and recovery funding. We became a go-to resource for small business owners impacted by the pandemic looking to pivot and tracked that many of our clients secured funding as a result of attending our online classes.
Why did you incorporate the Main Street Online Tool into your programming?
Women and BIPOC entrepreneurs have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Many small business owners struggle with the daily challenge of running their business, dealing with hiring issues, and meeting their bottom lines. As the world has gone virtual, transitioning to an e-commerce business can be exhausting and intimidating for small business owners who have limited resources and access to capital. The Main Street Online tool will help calm the fears of many of our small business clients, helping them to identify the best e-commerce solutions and tools for their unique needs and implement an effective, hassle free online strategy.
How will the tool help your organization better assist small businesses?
Main Street Online is an essential part of our program. It allows us to clearly identify some of the challenges that small business owners face when increasing their online presence. With targeted recommendations, we can provide strategies and solutions in the form of relevant WCEC Business Center classes, one-on-one counseling sessions, business planning, and additional technical assistance. Using this tool, we can help start the imperative conversations and ultimately help small businesses operating in underserved and underrepresented communities overcome the digital divide.
What are the most valuable part(s) of the tool and why?
The most valuable aspect of the Main Street Online tool is its ability to share customized recommendations and results on POS systems, website platforms, and content creation software to help small businesses market their online business, thus increasing sales.
How have you or will you assist with the implementation of the tool recommendations?
With the launch of our eCommerce Expansion Program, we will discuss the tool recommendations with our small business clients to determine the best strategy and solutions for their unique needs. Based on the agreed upon plan, the program manager will recommend WCEC Women’s Business Center classes, and arrange for one-on-one business counseling sessions with subject matter experts who will provide key tips on how the small business client can maximize results for their online business.
What impact has it made or do you believe it will make?
For small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the tool will help them pivot and strengthen their online presence. Main Street Online will provide small businesses with the competitive edge they need to thrive, recover and grow their business.
What are your future plans with the program and the tool?
We plan to make the tool an integral part of our eCommerce Expansion Program. We will continue to use the Main Street Online for assessments, recommendations and solutions for our small business clients looking to develop or scale up an online business.
Are there any messages that you have for others who are pursuing their own small business dream or other organizations interested in putting the tool to work?
Although the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women and BIPOC entrepreneurs, we have been inspired by the many success stories we have seen with our small business clients who have overcome challenges, pivoted and are now thriving. The lesson learned here is that it is never too late to make your small business dream a reality.
Sure, there will be obstacles, but this is the time to start the business you always dreamed of or learn new skills, like developing an eye-catching website to market and grow your business. The pandemic has taught the small business community not only how to survive but to come up with new, innovative ways to thrive, including embracing new technologies to maintain that competitive edge. The WCEC Women’s Business Center is proud to be the go-to resource to make the dreams of our small business clients come true.
GoDaddy is empowering everyday entrepreneurs around the world by providing all of the help and tools to succeed online. GoDaddy is the place people come to name their idea, build a professional website, attract customers, sell their products and services, and manage their work. Our mission is to give our customers the tools, insights and the people to transform their ideas and personal initiative into success. To learn more about the company, visit www.GoDaddy.com.
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Empower by GoDaddy is GoDaddy's global community and philanthropic program equipping entrepreneurs in underserved communities with training, tools and peer networks to accelerate their journeys. GoDaddy rallies behind entrepreneurs in underserved communities by building their confidence and skills to strengthen their small business’ digital presence. Entrepreneurs engage in customized learning experiences, work 1-1 with GoDaddy volunteer coaches and local mentors, and gain access to wrap-around services, in-kind products and networks boosting their small businesses success.
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