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VOL. 126 | NO. 149 | Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Grow Your Business Tour Takes Message Across State

By Aisling Maki

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Mid-South small-business coach Robert Staub is preparing to embark on a monthlong, statewide tour to bring his growth strategies to small-business owners in 13 Tennessee communities.

“There’s a lot of talk about economic development and new jobs, and it seems to be happening from the top down and not necessarily from the bottom up. So we came up with this tour, and I’m pretty excited because it’s going to be a busy 30 days.”

–Robert Staub
Small-business coach

The “Grow Your Business” tour, a partnership between Staub and the Tennessee Small Business Development Centers – a network of professional business consultants with 14 centers and seven affiliate offices throughout the state – will kick off in Nashville on Aug. 23 and wrap up in Memphis Sept. 27.

Other cities on the tour include Chattanooga, Cleveland, Clarksville, Dyersburg, Gallatin and Johnson City.

It will target business owners in some rural areas who don’t have access to the resources available to business owners in Memphis, Knoxville and Nashville.

“These folks are having a really tough time, and we’re trying to give them that guidance and direction, and show them that we can help them with the tools and knowledge they need to grow their business,” Staub said. “There’s a lot of talk about economic development and new jobs, and it seems to be happening from the top down and not necessarily from the bottom up. So we came up with this tour, and I’m pretty excited because it’s going to be a busy 30 days.”

Stopping at each TSBDC affiliate office Staub will deliver a free, fast-paced, 90-minute workshop focusing on four main aspects of small-business growth: benchmarks, direction, identity and marketing strategies.

“I work with small-business owners who want to grow their business and be more focused on a daily basis,” Staub said. “I have a very niche target group that I focus on, and that’s businesses with zero to 10 employees or doing zero to a million dollars in revenue. And that’s a very specific market – it’s probably one of the larger markets out there.”

Staub said these micro-businesses are creating jobs, and therefore should be given the same attention as large companies.

“Instead of putting all this energy into companies that are going to bring in 300 jobs, what if we put some strong efforts to maybe 10 small businesses with 30 employees,” he said. “You make them feel welcome and create an environment for the small-business owner.”

Staub, himself an entrepreneur, founded the Small Business Chamber of Commerce in Memphis and served on Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s transition team and the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Board in Washington.

“My coaching is 99.9 percent focused on business development – how you help that small-business owner who has a lawn care business or retail flower shop, who’s wearing all the hats and can make a beautiful bouquet or make a lawn look like a green carpet,” Staub said. ”But when it comes to running their businesses, they need skills, knowledge and tools. I really help them get focused on the specific tasks that are going to help them grow their business on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.”

Staub also serves on the advisory board of TSBDC, an organization he said is one of Tennessee’s “best kept secrets” for small-business owners. He calls himself “a cheerleader for this particular resource.”

He said the TSBDC meshes well with the work he does because the organization’s average client has four or five employees. About half of TSBDC clients own an existing business, while the other half is preparing to launch one.

Staub said the Grow Your Business Tour came about through his friendship with TSBDC Memphis affiliate leader David Doyle, who two years ago joined Staub and nearly a dozen other men on a statewide bicycle tour in support of nonprofit Junior Achievement.

If the Grow Your Business Tour is a success, Staub said it will most likely become a quarterly event in 2012.

“All these businesses are doing things a little bit differently, but if I gather a little knowledge from different people in different parts of the state and learn about their challenges and how they can be better served, that’s what excites me,” he said. “I’ll try to gather as much information as I can in these 30 days. The real exciting part will be in 2012 when I come back to these cities.”

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