The Small Business Collective (SBC) Founder & Principal Annisa Teich chatted with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about the importance of elevating small businesses and the SBC’s commitment to supporting those in the Hartford Region.
NAN PRICE: In what ways is the SBC committed to the Hartford Region?
ANNISA TEICH: The SBC is a champion for small businesses. Our main focus is to support small businesses with the service and support they need to launch and thrive. From a community and economic standpoint, we believe that small businesses are the way Greater Hartford can and should focus its growth efforts. That’s because when somebody launches, builds, or maintains a small business, there are more roots involved. Big businesses and tech companies can come and go. When you have a small business, especially if it’s a place-based small business, you’re not going anywhere.
We see our support of small businesses as a grassroots kind of approach in which the economy can be bolstered in our area. And I think the way our business community supports small businesses is a unique differentiator of the Hartford Region. I’m from the New York City area. It’s a very different animal there. Small businesses are often so overshadowed by the big businesses and the big tech ideas.
NAN: So, how do you shine a light on them?
ANNISA: We do quite a bit. As a full-service marketing agency, we’re able to work with a small business from inception to growth. We help with generational shifts as well as modernizing businesses that may have been kind of analog for many years or needs help upleveling. SBC supports small businesses in a holistic sense, but leveraging technology has always been the cornerstone of our work. I think we’re all seeing how COVID-19 has really driven the modernization and digitization of small businesses by necessity. We aim to continue that tech-enabled evolution.
Another way SBC elevates our small businesses community is through our annual Greater Hartford Holiday Gift Guide, which is an online curation of unique local gifts, services, and experiences. The goal is to encourage shoppers to shop small and shop local during the holiday season.
NAN: You mentioned COVID-19 earlier. How has the pandemic impacted your business?
ANNISA: When COVID-19 hit, I thought everything was going to slow down but what happened was, by early April, the proverbial phone started ringing off the hook. People who already owned businesses were trying to figure out how to digitize them—especially those that were brick-and-mortar, because some didn’t have a website and didn’t know how to sell their products or services online.
Our goal is to help small businesses use technology to better their business and make their money and time go further, so this was a natural transition for us when that first wave of calls came.
The second wave started with people who had been furloughed or their organization had closed. We were getting contacted by people who needed to take their skills and make a business for themselves or people with a passion who now had the opportunity to create a business. Interestingly enough, that second wave of new entrepreneurial businesses was largely led by women who had always wanted to do something entrepreneurial but hadn’t had the time to focus until the pandemic. So, we had a bunch of people reaching out to us for help starting their businesses, which was exciting.
Now, we’ve built a reputation as a place where people come with their idea and leave with a business. It’s incredible and we’re honored to be a part of these journeys.
NAN: How will the SBC benefit from being a part of the Hartford Chamber of Commerce business community?
ANNISA: It’s been an amazing experience working with local clients—and we see so much more potential. There are pockets and enclaves of small businesses I haven’t been able to meet yet or reach. We want to get in front of as many businesses as possible and let them know we’re here to work alongside them. Business owner to business owner. There’s an important sense of community in that.
Over the last year and a half or so, we’ve all had to transition and evolve, and the life of a small business will continue to wind. We want to ensure that those that are alive and well right now continue to be—and those starting out do so on solid ground.
How do we continue to give these small business owners the opportunity and create the climate in which they can thrive? That’s really where we see, not just our services fitting into the mix, but our advocacy and our sense of community and collaboration with fellow businesses in the Hartford Chamber and beyond.