This week marks the one-year anniversary of #SmallBizChat.
For the past year, every Wednesday at 8pm ET, I have had a standing appointment on Twitter with small business owners — to answer their small business questions.
The focus of #Smallbizchat is to end small business failure by helping business owners with issues and challenges as they start and grow their enterprises. I have a team that helps conduct Smallbizchat; my co-host Cathy Larkin @cathywebsavvypr and my virtual assistant Sonia Schenker @yourjobmyoffice who prepares the transcript each week and maintains our guest calendar.
The target market for #Smallbizchat is emerging entrepreneurs 25-54, who have logged less than five years in business. We try to balance topics between challenges for start-ups and issues that would be faced by a business with 20 or fewer employees.
We have hosted nearly 50 authors and small business experts who shared their knowledge and expertise with our loyal small business owners in an interview format. In partnership with our guest, we develop 10 to 12 questions in advance, but we always take live follow-up questions from the audience on Twitter.
We started our journey April 22, 2009 with @DeniseOberry, author of Small Business Cash Flow, as our first guest. She joined us to talk about How to Recession Proof Your Business.
At the time we launched this twitter—based talk show, we knew there was a need for entrepreneurs to get real-time answers to their small business questions. We saw a niche for a chat targeting start-up and early stage entrepreneurs who were looking to start or had only been in business a few years. Twitter was just getting really hot, and I was fairly new to twitter, but we set out on a mission to End Small Business Failure–and we knew we were on the right road. The first show drew a small crowd, but quickly the word spread. Within six weeks of starting the chat we had people asking about the following week’s guest.
The Format Makes All the Difference Leaning on my television production background, I really wanted to develop a consistent format to conduct the show to ensure that we were providing quality content. We ask prospective guests to submit questions and answers based on their expertise in order to be considered as a guest. We use this process to vet guests, and to ensure we are giving our small business owners real and valuable content.
Our chat lasts but one hour and is from 8-9pm Eastern because I put my young son to bed at 9 pm. Plus, and I think the time frame gives enough information without that chat being overwhelming.
Within a half-hour after #Smallbizchat ends, Sonia produces the transcript, which is archived on this site – http://www.Succeedasyorownboss.com By completing an easy signup form to access transcripts, you can create a login user name for access to past transcripts of the show. About four months into producing #Smallbizchat, we decided to use the submitted Q&A content as a blog post each week to help people who do not use Twitter benefit from the information. As such, a longer more in depth Q&A interview posts to this blog each Thursday morning.
At the end of every chat we do two things: Announce the next week’s guest and do Roll Call which is an opportunity of all participants to do their best #140 character commercials about their businesses.
Here’s what small businesses say about #Smallbizchat
“I love attending #SmallBizChat hosted by my business startup coaching colleague Melinda Emerson. Each week she attracts amazing guests on the topics that are valuable for business owners especially in the early stages of their entrepreneurial adventure. In addition to having an impressive guest list, the interactive nature of Twitter allows for real time, lively discussion. I always come away from the live chats learning something new. ” Sherri Garrity, Chief Corporate Fugutive http://www.corporatefugitive.com
“It’s the best 60 minutes you could spend expanding your social media network.” – Katherine Lewis, founder of http://www.CurrentMom.com @currentmom
“Participating in #smalllbizchat has been a terrific opportunity to share information and learn from others in numerous areas that are important to small business owners.” – Phyllis Zimbler Miller, Miller Mosaic Power Marketing – www.MillerMosaicLLC.com @zimblermiller
“I attend her #Smallbizchat every Wed Night 8pm to 9pm ET. Your small business will never be the same again! She has a WEALTH of tips!” JD Ebberly @JDEbberly
How are we celebrating the anniversary? We welcome our biggest guest of the year, Michael E. Gerber, international best selling author of more than 13 books including, The E Myth Revisited. I regard Michael as the “Yoda of Small Business Development.” Inc. magazine calls him “The World’s #1 Small Business Guru.” He’s got amazing knowledge to share, and I am honored that he’s helping us mark our 1 year anniversary.
I am also speaking at the #140 characters conference in New York City on Wednesday ( #140conf ). I believe that the fact that I host #Smallbizchat is a large part of the reason why I was invited.
If you’ve been helped by #Smallbizchat, please tell us here by leaving a comment. Plus, if you tweet out a small business tip you learned from #Smallbizchat, I will do a special blog post on Friday highlighting the best the responses. Please use the hashtag #1tip and address the tweet to @Smallbizchat.
Thank you to our smart, generous and loyal #Smallbizchat fans, advocates and participants. Here’s to another great year of #Smallbizchat. I look forward to it!