Taproot Foundation and Groupon partnered together to explore the possibility of bringing pro bono talent to small businesses on May 8, 2014. In a three-hour working session, representatives from twelve corporations and small business service providers discussed the challenges faced by the small business community and how pro bono could be a viable solution.
Small businesses are at the cornerstone of our local economies: about half of all Americans own or work for a small business, and two out of three new jobs are currently created in small businesses. Yet the daunting statistic that eight out of ten fail due to a lack of support in key business areas like marketing, finance, inventory management, strategy and planning makes it clear that they need additional resources to be successful. Many of the challenges are similar to those that nonprofits face, and there is great potential in bringing in skilled volunteers that can contribute support.
Supporting small businesses
Participants at the working session identified a variety of services that the corporate community could bring to the table to support small businesses, inspired by Taproot’s 8 Models of Pro Bono. The group identified that Taproot, corporate partners and small business service providers could partner in several creative ways to support the small business community.
Loaned employee models and coaching rose to the top as a useful way to provide small businesses with support from corporate professionals. The group discussed using corporate professionals to help small business owners understand the true causes of some of their business challenges before engaging in pro bono. They shared innovative ideas to foster collaboration between professional volunteers and small businesses, such as popup pro bono stores and online portals where businesses could share their needs. Throughout the event, attendees shared their enthusiasm to create a campaign that would encourage economic growth and the education of the small business and corporate communities about pro bono.
Armed with a plethora of ideas, Taproot’s next steps include exploring concepts discussed in the session and gaining corporate support for pilot pro bono initiatives.