For the past three years (2011-2013), American Business Journals ranked Austin as the best place to start a small business. Austin is also one of the top ten fastest growing cities in the United States and the latest census data ranks it the 11th largest city in the United States, up from the 17th spot only five years ago.
This summer I have the privilege of being immersed in the city’s entrepreneurial spirit and immense growth, as I continue my work coaching small businesses at Business and Communities Lenders (BCL) of Texas. BCL of Texas is a non-profit economic development organization specializing in micro-lending and entrepreneurial development. My work is funded primarily through a contract with the City of Austin’s Small Business Development Program (SBDP). The program provides free coaching to entrepreneurs in the idea and start-up phase, as well as to existing small business owners. I assist with navigating the nuts and bolts of the start-up process, business planning, marketing, financial management, and access to capital through lending or alternative financing options, such as crowdfunding. I was recently featured in The Network Journal’s most recent online edition in an article titled “How to Keep Your Mind on Business This Summer” where I give some tips on how entrepreneurs can keep focused during the summer heat. http://www.tnj.com/small-business/business-advice/how-to-keep-your-mind-business-summer
After each of my coaching sessions, I provide a progress report to the City’s SBDP on milestones achieved. Already this year, I’ve completed over 550 hours of direct one-on-one coaching, helping to create 10 new businesses and 7 new jobs. I’m also learning a lot about micro-lending and have assisted with closing 3 loan packages. With classes at LBJ out for the summer, I’ll work full-time in my position. Besides coaching, I’m heading a new project for the organization called Keep Austin Funded (KAF).
The project started as an idea Christie Wright, LBJ School Master’s of Public Affairs Candidate and I had last semester. We worked the idea out by participating in the Dell Social Innovation Challenge (DSIC) and the Texas Venture Labs Competition. Our project, along with 4 others out of the LBJ School made it to the Semi-finals of the DSIC. After the competition, we pitched the idea to BCL and this summer I’ll work on the feasibility and implementation of the program.
KAF is a comprehensive crowdfunding platform that connects local start-ups with local investors, creates jobs, and diversifies the local economy. KAF’s mission is to provide local entrepreneurs with the knowledge, tools, and ultimately access to crowdfunding capital they need to succeed. With Crowdfunding quickly becoming a groundbreaking new financial frontier, it seems like a perfect match for a progressive and up-and-coming city like Austin.
Check back later this summer for updates on Keep Austin Funded and Austin’s small business development initiatives. Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or want to learn more please contact me lmcneill@bcloftexas or firstname.lastname@example.org