A small business community space with global reach
Our small business sector is the fastest-growing, most diverse, greatest contributor of new jobs to our local, national and global economy. Did you know that:
- Small businesses make up more than 99.7% of all employers
- Small businesses create more than 50 percent of the non-farm private gross domestic product (GDP)
- Small patenting firms produce 13 to 14 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms,
- The 22.9 million small businesses in the United States are located in virtually every neighborhood and small businesses employ about 50 percent of all private sector workers
(Source: Small Business Association Office of Advocacy, 2015)
We are the growth engine of the economy! And yet this community remains highly fragmented, and many business owners struggle to launch, grow and scale their small businesses. Here in my hometown of Mesa, Arizona, we have amazing efforts underway to grow our creative economy, yet we have barely scratched the surface of our potential with our substantial local small business talent.
(Hanging with Cookie Monster in Austin, Texas!)
I am Pamela Slim, an author, small business coach and speaker. On August 15th, I am celebrating my 20th year in business. I have spent the last 11 years helping thousands of entrepreneurs all over the world launch and grow businesses through my blog, my books (Escape from Cubicle Nation and Body of Work), online programs, coaching and speaking. I love small business as much as I love my kids and husband, John Legend, Star Wars and Peet’s Coffee, and that is A LOT.
(the very fun entrepreneurs of #commtour Chicago!)
Last fall, I traveled to 25 cities across North America, teaching workshops on community building to entrepreneurs. I connected with amazing groups of business owners who were building great things in their local communities, from Los Angeles to Fargo, from Chicago to Washington, D.C. After that energizing experience, I came home, reflected on my own small business community here in Mesa, and suddenly thought “What am I doing to support and supercharge my own community? If I did that, imagine how many new ideas, practices and inspiration I would get that I could share with my broader small business ecosystem around the world!”
(The outside of what will become the small business incubator at 126 Main Street, in downtown Mesa. My neighbors are a toy store and cookie store! How perfect is that?)
Thus launched my idea to open a welcoming, vibrant, small business community space at 126 W. Main Street, in my home town of Mesa, Arizona. I have named it “K’é” (pronounced “keh”) which in my husband’s Diné (Navajo) language means “system of kinship.” It is the feeling you have when you are deeply connected to others, you feel your kinship, and you treat each other as family.
(My local amazing Mastermind partners Susan Baier and Chris Lee)
In this space, I will curate talks, conduct workshops, training programs, facilitated group discussions, events and community building. I will encourage our local business community to work together to test and try new ideas, solve problems, promote our local economy, and share our ideas with our national and global counterparts. I will actively work to make sure that people who represent all sectors of our community are included and well-served.
(This mother/son entrepreneur team of Mecca Brown and Wesley Brown from Las Vegas fuels my desire to reach many generations with our incubator!)
My superpower for the last 30 years has been community building. I believe that when local community members connect, get to know each other, and work on projects together, that massive social and economic progress ensues. But more than that — we view each other as loved and respected family members. We feel our “K’é.” This care and concern impacts us in every way — we help each other find jobs and customers, we care about each other’s health and well-being, we look out for each other’s kids, and we work to create economic well-being for all.
What We Need & What You Get
Creating a space that can host workshops and events for different sized groups will take some investment. The funds raised in this campaign will be used for:
- Comfortable and portable chairs and tables for training sessions and workshops. In order to adapt to a great number of different types of events, we need to have a solid and comfortable set of chairs and tables that can be set up and broken down safely and easily.
- Comfortable couches and end tables. We want an open, inviting and comfortable space where people can hang out and network (we will actively court high quality donated furniture from our local friends, but may need to purchase some new furniture as well).
- Kitchen equipment for the dining room area, including a refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker (we must serve great coffee and tea!), shelving and a refillable water container (you must hydrate here in the desert!).
- Light construction including: widening the bathroom walls and door to make it accessible for wheelchairs; removal of wallpaper and deep cleaning of brick in the kitchen area; cleaning and painting in the main areas.
- Audio visual equipment for the main workshop area so we have high quality projection and live-stream capability for our virtual classes
- My favorite part: Paint, lighting, design and signage for the storefront windows. We want this display to be both inviting and educational, celebrating the amazing talent we have here in Mesa, as well as sharing tips, lessons and insight about the small business economy with everyone who walks by. These displays will rotate frequently depending on the season, and be brought to life on the Internet through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
I like to think of this campaign as a request for investment, and pre-enrollment for the great classes that will be delivered here!
We will be running a regular and rich schedule of live and virtual classes from K’é. We will have shorter, 2-hour classes that will teach you extremely practical and results-oriented business building techniques, as well as longer full-day, multi-day, and even year-long mentoring programs that build and deepen your small business mastery. The complete calendar will be up and running in August.
I realize it may seem crazy to sign up for classes when you don’t even know what subjects they are, but trust me, they will be highly relevant (based on questions I have heard every day of the 11 years I have worked with entrepreneurs), action-oriented and tool-based.
The perks for this campaign include (at different levels):
- Big discounts on the regular priced live and virtual classes which will start in September (50-70% off the regular prices)
- The opportunity to spend an entire day (or 2!) live with me in a private strategy session (for companies who invest at this level, this session could be with your executive or marketing team).
- The opportunity, as with all such campaigns, to give anonymously, and not take any perks at all, if you just feel like contributing to the cause without any strings attached.
By supporting this project, you will build:
- A vibrant and inclusive meeting space in Mesa, Arizona, where people from all backgrounds and business stages will share ideas, build knowledge and leadership capacity, strengthen their companies and innovate new products and services
- The opportunity to mobilize more support and resources for projects Mesa leaders have been working hard on, like Downtown Mesa, CoWorkMesa, Mesa ArtSpace Lofts and Mesa Chamber of Commerce initiatives.
- A space for visiting authors, experts and thought leaders to share their wisdom, tools and ideas live with the surrounding community and virtually to the rest of the world through live stream and video.
- A laboratory for new ideas about growing the small business economy which will be shared on Pam’s large global platform
- Funding to offer free classes to community members who may not have the means to pay
- A place to mentor younger entrepreneurs, from grammar school to college age
- A place to grow personally, and become a more capable and happy person, leader and community member
Risks & Challenges
Sustaining a brick and mortar location takes time, energy and investment. Once the short-term start-up equipment is purchased through this campaign, I am committed to do the work of securing ongoing revenue, funding and partnerships to keep this location secure, solvent and vibrant.
- I have had a strong and stable business for 20 years serving entrepreneurs inside and outside of Mesa which I will continue to grow and develop to fund this location
- I have a large circle of motivated, collaborative and successful friends and partners who I will engage in my growth and fundraising efforts
- I have many ties to corporate partners who serve the small business market, and will use these connections to establish stable funding paths
Other Ways You Can Help
(My husband Darryl, son Joshua, dear friend and collaborator Charlie Gilkey, me and my daughter Rosie.)
I know that you don’t always have extra cash on hand to support crowdfunding projects, but still want to see them succeed. Here are some concrete things you can do to support this project:
- Share this campaign with friends and family who might benefit.
- Drop us an email if you have funding ideas, interesting connections or advice ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
- Send your good vibes. We will feel them, and they will give us courage to take this project all the way to the finish line
My friend Greg Hartle once said: “What kind of world do you want to live in, and what are you building to contribute to this world?” I am building K’é. I hope you will join me!