The adage says, “we make time for the things that are important.” While I genuinely believe this to be true, how can you make time for something you were never aware of? Cue the Arkansas Business Navigator Podcast!
After being a part of the Arkansas Business Navigator (ABN) project for nearly a year, I have spoken to dozens of business owners and entrepreneurs in need of help across rural Arkansas.
As a practitioner of community and economic development, I’m constantly reminded how little time entrepreneurs have for researching programs and services designed to help them succeed. And how could they? Many possess the role of chief executive officer, marketing director, human resources manager, accountant, and warehouse manager simultaneously.
In a previous career, I worked in not-for-profit development for a state food bank and hospital, and something we tried to instill in our donors was the fact that when children and adults are food insecure and their basic needs are not being met, it is extremely difficult to focus on external factors like saving for the future, fixing the house, or helping a child with college enrollment. I think the same is true for small business owners, especially those in isolated, rural communities where I spend the bulk of my time. Because so much of their time and attention is demanded by work and family, it is often difficult, if not nearly impossible, for business owners to identify and access these resources given their schedules. These resources I would argue are business owners “basic needs” and they need addressing now.
How do we connect small rural business owners to basic needs designed to help them start, grow, and reimagine their business?
One way is through collaborative programs like ABN which is filling gaps and bringing services to them through no-cost, 1:1 business planning, market research, access to capital, and more. Improving awareness and accessibility of programs like this is critical to the success of rural small businesses. I can say that many of my clients have been grateful to receive assistance or be directed towards resources they needed but did not know existed. At the same time, I have other entrepreneurs with good intentions and desires to access support like this who simply do not have the time or know where to look for help.
Through the ABN podcast, my colleague Kam Gomez and I feature the resources, events, and organizations that are a part of the ABN statewide network and how to access them. The podcast also contacts information about the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) programs and services while breaking down legalese and jargon many of us (including myself) have to Google to figure out what it means. Finally, each episode ends with Q&A where we answer listener questions.
All of this is packaged into tidy 15-minute or less episodes twice a month. You can listen to the show on our website, or find it on Spotify, Amazon Music, and Apple podcasts (coming soon!).
While Kam and I created the podcast, it belongs to you (I am pointing at you, entrepreneurs). One of the ways we want to make the podcast more engaging and relevant is through listener Q&A. At the end of each episode, we feature questions from our listeners you submit. All you have to do is visit the ABN podcast website and fill out the short form.
If you’re lucky, we will feature it on the show and give you shoutout (with your permission)! Another way you can get involved is by subscribing and leaving a review. This not only fills our egos (kidding), but it helps get the podcast in front of more people who need it.
If you have not listened yet, check out our first few episodes and let us know what you think.