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VOL. 126 | NO. 191 | Friday, September 30, 2011

Staub Brings Small-Business Message Home

By Aisling Maki

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Small-business coach Robert Staub couldn’t have chosen a more ideal day and setting than Wednesday, Sept. 28, at Shelby Farms Park to complete his month-long, statewide “Grow Your Business Tour,” bringing strategy, support and camaraderie to Tennessee’s small-business owners.

After riding his bicycle 50 miles from the Somerville area in Fayette County on a beautiful autumn day, Staub entered Memphis’ sprawling urban park accompanied by a police escort to greet a crowd of well wishers that included a diverse group of local business owners and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, who co-hosted the event.

“The weather’s been great and we’ve just been very blessed with the whole trip,” said Staub, who founded the Small Business Chamber of Commerce in Memphis and served on Luttrell’s transition team and the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Board in Washington. “At the end of the day, if it helps one or two small-business owners stay in business and succeed, then it was worth the 400 miles.”

It was the final leg of the tour’s five-day cycling portion, which began in Knoxville Sept. 23. The month-long tour, whose purpose was to bring effective growth strategies to small-business owners in 13 Tennessee communities, kicked off in late August in Murfreesboro.

“We are overwhelmed with the response we’ve had throughout the state,” Staub said. “The people have been very receptive to the content that we’ve provided.”

The tour was a partnership between Staub and Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC), a network of professional business consultants with 14 centers and seven affiliate offices throughout the state.

“The TSBDC has just done an outstanding job organizing this,” he said. “This is really their event. They just brought me in to facilitate it, each one of their centers put strong effort into it, and it was just such a cross-section of entrepreneurs and small-business owners that were really starving, and in a lot of ways didn’t even think they were hungry for it.

“After the event was over, they said, ‘I’ve read all these books and thought I knew everything, but I picked up two or three things that I didn’t even think about before.’”

Along the way, Staub met with Tennessee business owners from an array of industries, including financial planners and website designers, a small newspaper owner, a goat cheese farmer, a glass repair company proprietor and an owner of rental cabins.

Stopping at each TSBDC affiliate office, Staub delivered a free, fast-paced, 90-minute workshop focusing on four main aspects of small-business growth: benchmarks, direction, identity and marketing strategies. He delivered his finale workshop Wednesday inside the Shelby Farms Park Visitor Center.

“This is very street-smart, grassroots-like information,” Staub said. “It’s not complicated, and a lot of folks know this stuff anyway, but they just don’t think about it or implement it. We put together a program that builds on momentum and consistency, and focusing on your business on a daily, weekly and monthly plan. And that’s really what helps small businesses grow and stay more focused.”

In addition to teaching business owners strategies, Staub used the tour as an opportunity to educate them about resources available, including TSBDC.

“A lot of small businesses have been helped by Robert and what he does, and it’s fantastic for us getting the word out,” said Jim Palmer with the Memphis branch of the TSBDC, located at Southwest Tennessee Community College, 737 Union Ave. “ Our motto is ‘Your success is our business.’ We’re the best-kept secret in Tennessee. He’s getting the word out about us and about helping small businesses to grow and having fun doing it.”

Luttrell said his office co-hosted the event because he’s focused on sustaining support for small businesses that support larger business, which he said is the key to jumpstarting the economy.

The issue of the availability of ancillary companies, he said, arose during the formative stages of discussion with Electrolux, which will break ground Wednesday, Oct. 5, on a nearly $200 million Memphis factory, expected to create more than 1,200 new jobs and support more than 2,200 secondary jobs in the form of suppliers and other related work.

Luttrell said it’s “important that there be the vendors and the support personnel that can provide that kind of infrastructure for the big corporations that are coming in. That’s very much what the small businesses provide. As we go out and fish for the big fish, we’re going to make sure we’ve got plenty of bait out there with the small businesses that can sustain them.”

To learn more, visit www.tsbdc.org and www.smallbizmidsouth.com.

PROPERTY SALES 67 67 19,513
MORTGAGES 68 68 22,501
BUILDING PERMITS 201 201 40,205
BANKRUPTCIES 62 62 12,548