By Jarred Howard, senior vice president of Small Business & Entrepreneur Support

View more photos of the event here.

Whew!  That’s about the best way to describe the way I was feeling Thursday, August 1st at about 6pm.  What was significant about that Thursday?  I’m glad you asked, and I’m happy to share. 

I started my chamber journey a little more than a year ago.  I’d left a long tenure at a large company and was ready to make things happen in my new role.  Wisely, leadership advised me that this environment would be different from what I was accustomed to, and encouraged me to get my bearings before attempting to provide direction.  I reluctantly relented and spent the first several weeks listening.  I spoke with several key influencers and stakeholders but spent most of the time engaging entrepreneurs and small business operators.  After all, these were the people we were tasked with supporting. 

I had hundreds of meetings…literally.  It was clear from the onset of those meetings that the needs of our partners were vast and that effectively supporting so many businesses in a city with such a fast-growing economy was not going to be easy.  

After reminding myself of my affinity for Fort Worth and remembering that my bills wouldn’t get paid if I didn’t work, the team did some level-setting.  We recognized that we were incapable of being everything to everyone and made a commitment to focus on the programs that produced the highest return for the most people. 

The summit concept was borne from this commitment.  A small business summit would allow us to focus on our departmental mission statement, which is to “connect people with resources and ideas to assets.”  A summit would also allow us to put some of our incredible resource partners in the room with some of the amazing small businesses that might benefit from our partners’ expertise.  The summit wasn’t going to solve all of the problems of local entrepreneurs, but could certainly jump-start the journey from problem to solution for some of those that would attend. 

After several rounds of discussion with small business owners, our small business committee, staff, City staff, the cleaning crew, the office fish and dust mites, we developed the concept of the inaugural Event for Entrepreneurial Engagement (dubbed E3 for simplicity).  We hosted the event at Texas A&M School of Law the afternoon of August 1. Experts engaged small business owners and operators in several of the subject matters that we’ve learned are critical for small business success, including:

  • Entrepreneurship for Women
  • Funding
  • Social Media
  • Technology
  • HR for Small Business
  • Law for Small Business
  • Cyber Security
  • Diversity
  • Building Community Synergy
  • Storytelling

The event also featured a presentation from the team at Goldman Sach’s 10,000 Small Businesses program, a resource that we believe Fort Worth deserves and that we’re working to make available here. (Email us if you’re interested.) We ended with a reception hosted by our friends at Z’s Café

The survey results tell us that the event was very well-received and provided constructive feedback for future programs.  THANK YOU to those that attended and to our sponsors for making it possible.  We will be publishing recaps from almost all the sessions on this blog in the coming weeks.

But we’re not finished! Our attempts to be better, do more and expand our reach are perpetual.

And they continue with the upcoming Small Business of the Year (SBoY) competition known as the Forte Awards. Earlier this year, one of the category winners told us they received “more local visibility in the three months of the SBoY program than they had in the previous three years of grassroots promotion.” It was a pretty big compliment because one primary goal of that program is to showcase our participants’ businesses, and especially those of finalists and winners. 

We’re excited about the program but need your support to maximize its impact.  So if there’s a company with fewer than 150 employees that you know, love and think could benefit from some additional exposure, nominate them for the 2019-2020 competition.  The form is simple and takes about two minutes to complete.  The only step after the nomination is for the business to complete the actual application (nominations are not necessary for businesses to apply). 

You’re probably tired of reading this unsolicited blog (sorry) and are ready to get to the next thing on your to-do list, but before you send this message to the dreaded trash folder, nominate your favorite small business today.