The Arizona Small Business Association’s new statewide initiative aims to help the state’s small businesses regain their footing with free, customized online courses.
Arizona’s small businesses were particularly hard hit by the pandemic, so the Arizona Small Business Association launched a new initiative—Forge Ahead—to help them recover more quickly. Small-business owners and their employees will have access to online, personalized training from leading experts in key areas to help them generate revenue and position themselves for the road ahead.
“As the go-to resource for small businesses, we’re thrilled to deploy Forge Ahead and believe the expert-led, online training will provide the tools that are necessary for small businesses to move forward,” said Jess Roman, ASBA’s CEO, in a press release.
To make sure the courses are timely and relevant, ASBA conducted member surveys and additional outreach, which identified three key areas of importance to members: strengthening financial acumen; developing a social media and digital marketing presence; and networking to grow business and industry relationships.
The main idea was to create on-demand courses that would be available anytime a small-business owner has the time to log on and complete them. Each course is about an hour long and provides valuable, actionable content, said Katie Prendergast, ASBA’s senior vice president of public affairs.
The financial acumen course includes strategies for how a small-business owner can develop relationships with local banks. The social media course offers quick, practical steps to increase a business’s online visibility, recover revenue, and grow additional sales. The networking course provides easy steps for small-business owners to grow their network—both peer-to-peer and business-to-business—to gain referrals.
ASBA received a state grant last year related to the pandemic that helped fund the initiative. The group partnered with a local technology company to develop and deliver the personalized training courses and reached out to local subject matter experts to serve as instructors.
Forge Ahead is free and available to all small-business owners in Arizona, not just ASBA members. “We wanted to make this training available—and valuable—to as many people as possible,” Prendergast said.
Developing partnerships was a key component of the program. “We’ve got a lot of leaders here in our own backyard in Arizona,” she said. So ASBA asked, “How can we take their expertise and bottle it up and share it with a small-business owner who may have fewer resources?”