Small business becomes big business when it’s backed by corporate entrepreneurship education programs, matchmaking opportunities, and co-working spaces and accelerators. Take for example Google, which since 2011, has been building physical community hubs or co-working spaces, called Campuses, where entrepreneurs come to learn, share ideas, and launch startups.
What’s more, Google has been seeking minority-owned businesses to join its Accelerate with Google Academy. The free 12-week program is aimed at small business owners who already have an online presence and who understand primary Web tools—entrepreneurs who are looking to take their marketing to the next level and significantly grow their revenues using online advertising. Participants are handpicked and get the tools and training they need to advertise online, including live help and private consultations with dedicated experts.
In the course, Google shows businesses how to create website landing pages, manage Google AdWords to advertise their business, and manage marketing campaigns. The program is beneficial to businesses as well as to Google: More businesses using Google’s services gives the search company more data to mine and helps it provide more granular data to people who are searching for businesses.
This year’s class kicked off with more than 75 small business owners, including Anie Akpe, publisher of Innov8tiv.com, a Web source of technology news, resources, and innovations focusing on Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora. My social media efforts were working, but the questions on visibility were still lingering,” says Akpe, a business professional with more than 15 years of banking experience who is originally from Nigeria. She applied to Google’s accelerator after reading an article on BlackEnterprise.com which reported that Google and HubSpot (an inbound marketing software platform) had come together to assist minority business owners in increasing their visibility on the Web.
The program focuses on inbound marketing using Google AdWords combined with the ability to measure results using HubSpot’s platform. After participating in the accelerator, Akpe began using the combined platforms to help with attracting and retaining customers; she still uses AdWords. Google Analytics helps her “to track visits. We can also see which article our readers enjoyed the most.”
“Google really wants you to be informing people so that visitors stay on your website and just don’t click on your landing page and then leave,” says fellow Accelerate with Google Academy classmate Matthew Miller, director of marketing and business development at Detroit-based Walker-Miller Energy Services. “Google taught us how to turn information from a visitor into useful, possible business. We had a website for online presence, but it was not related to real-time growth and business. Now we are in the process of revamping our website so that we can convert visits into sales,” he explains.
Walker-Miller Energy Services was founded in 2000 by its president and CEO, Carla Walker-Miller, Miller’s mother. The company performs residential, commercial, and institutional energy efficiency services that help to decrease consumption, shrink the carbon footprint, and improve air quality, comfort, and safety. For example, one of the firm’s current projects is replacing Detroit’s fluorescent street lights with energy efficient LED lighting.
Walker-Miller Energy generated $3.2 million in revenues in 2013 and is on target to reach $4.5 million in 2014, thanks in part, says Miller, to the company’s participation in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. Walker-Miller was one of 64 graduates in this year’s class of entrepreneurs to receive the tools needed to grow their businesses and create jobs that will contribute to Detroit’s revival.
Goldman Sachs launched its Detroit program in 2013 and has spent $20 million for small business loans, reports the Detroit News. Goldman Sachs has spent $500 million nationally on the program which began in 2009 with the intention of creating jobs and increasing revenue growth by providing practical business education, support services, and access to capital to small business owners.
Here are four corporate programs you need to know about: