As small business people, we often know what it's like to be on the receiving end of a helping hand. This is a brief profile of two small business owners who have been there and decided to try and give back by providing a platform for business to help business.
BusinessHelpingBusiness is founded on the principle that businesses can help other businesses to survive and succeed by making needs known and favors available. This is an entirely grassroots movement intended to bring together large and small, global and local, and product and service businesses alike in cooperation rather than competition.
With $20 and 20 hours of time invested, Stephanie Stewart and Sean Davis, launched BusinessHelpingBusiness.com Christmas of 2008. As co-founders of iThinkWorks.com and WISEOZ.com, both Stephanie and Sean know what it's like to start a business and benefit from the advice and/or assistance of other business people. BusinessHelpingBusiness was born out of desire to give back, to help others help others.
The system is simple. Essentially, there are three different components:
1) an "I Need" list
2) an "I Have" list
3) a weekly email subscription to receive these lists
Someone with a business need simply clicks on the I Need form link, fills in few categories and submits their need. An example of a an "I Need" could be as simple as the need for tents for a youth outing or need for silent auction donations for a charity event. Conversely, someone that would like to give back or offer their services as a favor submits an I Have form. Examples of "I Haves" might be an artist that wants to donate artwork for display as long as they get name credit or a website designer that offers to build an entire website for $100.
When asked what one of the most unique I Have submissions was, Stephanie said they had a cigar company offer up a whole bunch of empty cigar boxes.
The last component to this absolutely free service is to make sure you subscribe to the weekly emails so you have access to the current Needs and Haves. Because people have the option of submitting their request anonymously, Stephanie and Sean want to make sure they do everything to protect the privacy of participants. They hope to eventually post the Needs and Haves online for public viewing but for security reasons right now, it remains subscription-based. Currently, there are approximately 500 subscribers. Stephanie and Sean hope to one day have enough people to warrant sending daily lists instead of weekly announcements.
Influencing change doesn't require millions of dollars or endless amounts of your time, but it does require the heart and desire to DO something. I thank Stephanie and Sean for being good examples of this, and I think that we, as small business people, often underestimate our ability to make a difference. Like the images on the BusinessHelpingBusiness site suggest, the tiniest seed can become the mightiest tree. Do something small for someone; it might have a big impact.