In the Summer of 1998, I co-founded the Evanston Small Business Association – ESBA – a grass roots organization whose sole intention was to send a strong message of opposition to a city council and chamber of commerce that wanted to bring a mall to this historic downtown university community. Within a few months, we grew to 60+ members and galvanized many of the city’s neighbors to take action against the mall AND support Evanston businesses. Member businesses landed significant new accounts and recruited better vendors from other member businesses. One locksmith reported that he was able to open a bricks and mortar location thanks to an influx of new business he generated through ESBA. I would discover years later that the political buzz created by ESBA compelled Northwestern University to triple its spend with the city’s small businesses from $9 million to $27 million in just one year.
Although we lost the battle (Evanston’s city fathers got their mall and the downtown is now just another urban monstrosity of faceless towers and bad planning decisions), we learned another valuable lesson in how the power of words can change the world. Small businesses are the backbone of America (and the world) and many of the greatest brands and concepts once started as small businesses. And when they join forces, they can make a powerful impact on a community AND on their own business success. Friends who joined ESBA would tell me a year after we started that half of their new business came through connections they made through ESBA.
While our core business is best-in-category companies and organizations, wordBrowne was started by entrepreneurs who know how to deliver quality communications for small businesses that fit your budget. We are also a resource for helping businesses form associations and coalitions suited to help them grow their communities and promote their respective causes. The ESBA concept still lives on, but today it stands for Everyone’s Small Business Advocates.
Today, the ESBA model can now harness the power of today’s technology to create a global platform in which small businesses can create unique and expansive communities designed to deliver value to customer and an entire universe of opportunities.
wordBrowne believes that the power of words can be leveraged to generate more excitement and more traffic to your small business neighborhood. What is your vision for your community? Give us a call – we can help.