Beacon Council accelerator targets 100 minority companies
The Miami-Dade Beacon Council is helping grow over 100 small businesses by providing them with robust services and partnership opportunities with more than 20 organizations through the Consulting Small Business Accelerator program.
The peak of the Covid-19 pandemic revealed that many small businesses in Miami-Dade County lacked access to some of the technical resources they needed, said Michael A. Finney, president and CEO of the Beacon Council, which launched a program to support and monitor the success of small businesses in the county by partnering them with local organizations for access to capital and other forms of technical assistance.
âMany were unable to get loans from banks when the Paycheck Protection Program (P3) was underway because they did not have a business banking relationship,â Finney said. âA lot of them lost touch with their customers because they really didn’t have a digital footprint – in other words, their websites weren’t enough. Sure, [some] lacked the capital to survive and access to capital. They needed marketing partners. They needed help finding and identifying new customers. And the list went on and on.
The Beacon Council has identified 15 characteristics or needs for which these existing small businesses in the county could be helped to have a greater likelihood of success. The Small Business Accelerator program was born out of months of brainstorming with about 500 small businesses, Finney said, with guaranteed funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bank of America. The Beacon Council has selected its first 42 small businesses and plans to select the remaining 58 in the first half of next year, he said. âOur goal is to really work with a hundred companies.
Mr Finney said the program would eventually be available to all small businesses in the county with less than half a million dollars in revenue and fewer than 10 employees. According to Beacon Council research data, 90.92% of Miami-Dade companies have nine or fewer employees.
âThe lessons we learn about how to support these businesses will apply to all small businesses,â he said.
The program, he added, focused on minority-owned small businesses: âWe focus on women-owned businesses, on black businesses, and on Latino or Hispanic businesses because they are the ones. who seem to have the greatest vulnerability â.
The Beacon Council has partnered with over 20 organizations to support and find resources for small businesses in the county. These organizations include Prospera (Advance Hispanic Business); NANA (Association Voisins et Voisins); Ascension; MDEAT (the Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust); Miami-Dade Federal Credit Union; Miami catalyst; Action trainer; SCORE (the Service Corps of Retired Executives); the Florida Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC Florida); CRF and the Miami Bayside Foundation.
“And the idea is that we will be providing very robust services to small businesses in a lot of different industries,” Finney said. âWe seek to support different types of businesses, in sectors such as hospitality and tourism, technology and health, as well as sports and entertainment. “
Some of the criteria for small businesses to be selected by the Beacon Council to be part of this program measure their likelihood of success and their ability to grow, Mr. Finney said.
âEvery applicant company that is referred to us by one of our partners, or that finds us online, goes through a full admission process during which they complete an application,â he said. The Beacon Council conducts formal interviews with them to understand their business model and what they perceive to be their needs.
Then the board assigns one of its advocates to them – volunteers who serve as advocates for every small business. These volunteers will further assess what would be most effective in helping the business, Finney said. The Beacon Council then helps match up with one of its technical assistance partners to provide the services that specific small businesses need.
“Small business [assistance] was not an integral part of our work before the pandemic, âsaid Finney. âWe would help from time to time; we regularly referred companies to [partnering organizations], and we really didn’t have a comprehensive way to track or participate in the support services provided.
“Now we’re directly involved in the process,” he said, “with business-to-business (B2B) referrals or help with their marketing or social media.”
The pandemic has shown that many of these small businesses are struggling to access their PPP loans.
âWe were able to quickly identify over 40 banks that would take small businesses as customers,â he said. âAnd once we did that, requests kept coming in for more help. Once we did a little pilot – helping the first companies – we pitched it to the Rockefeller Foundation and they agreed to provide funding to us, and then Bank of America joined them with funding specifically focused on women. entrepreneurs.
Mr Finney said the Beacon Council works directly with Miami-Dade business owners, who contact the council through referrals from outside sources or find the resources online.
âThe Small Business Accelerator is really a very comprehensive tool that offers support for all major aspects of a successful business,â said Mr. Finney: âAccess to capital, accounting and registration back office via B2B referrals, strategies on how to pivot and adjust business models, and just regular coaching, cash management, marketing, and of course I can go onâ¦ â