WASECA — Amanda Brinkman has a passion for helping small businesses.
She was a keynote speaker at the first Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference in Minnesota, which was held at the Starfire Event Center in Waseca, Sept. 5 and 6.
University of Minnesota Extension was the host and organizer of the conference.
In her presentation, Brinkman spoke of the show she is the creator, producer and co-host of called Small Business Revolution on Main Street.
“We do the show because we do believe wholeheartedly that small businesses make our towns unique, so it’s about focusing on our small businesses,” Brinkman said.
Small Business Revolution on Main Street
The mission statement stated on her website says that they are on a mission to revitalize small towns, one small business at a time.
“I have to say that all the small business owners from Waseca that I met today and your extremely talented leader in the chamber (Ann Fitch) has very much impressed me,” Brinkman said about Waseca. “Everyone that I met has been phenomenal. I took a little drive before I got here in kind of this downtown area and it’s lovely, I love all the flags coming down it. It’s a very beautiful Main Street…”
Brinkman shared in her presentation common traits in communities who are thriving in her keynote presentation.
They come together with the ability to rally and shared leadership, use arts and culture to bring community together, support and provide resources to their small businesses, make diversity and inclusion a priority and are intentional about it and the final point she shared on common traits was understand and market their unique brand.
She also shared the two common things the businesses they help on the show are missing.
Marketing and finances are the two biggest things that small businesses in large urban areas or small rural communities struggle with. She said it’s not understanding how to use marketing to grow the business or not understanding what the numbers are telling the business.
“We started Small Business Revolution because I truly believe that if we just told their stories that more people would understand the importance of supporting small businesses,” Brinkman said. “So it was really meant to be a movement that developed into a TV show, but it was really all about inspiring people to support small businesses.”
Small Business Revolution is a program owned by Deluxe Enterprise Operations and streams on Hulu.
Deluxe is a more than a 100-year-old company that serves small businesses and financial institutions.
“Deluxe does this (Small Business Revolution) because these are our ad dollars at work,” Brinkman said. “We’re just advertising like our competitors do and instead we’re investing in our communities and businesses. That’s spreading the word about Deluxe and I feel like that’s such a better way to spread the word of who we are than to just advertise at people.”
Brinkman is in the financial services side of Deluxe.
They help large banks, community banks, financial institutions with their vin tech needs. They assist with everything in how the bank or financial institution serves their customers and on the small business side they help them move money and their payments and payroll along with marketing and other tasks.
She spoke on Deluxe being able to help businesses with anything marketing from logos and websites to email marketing, business cards and numerous other marketing tools. She said Deluxe is in the business of helping communities thrive through its businesses.
“I joined Deluxe because we were really looking to figure out how to help more small businesses and I have always been very passionate about shopping local and supporting small businesses,” Brinkman said. “It was after I spent more time with small businesses at Deluxe that I realized their stories are what are so powerful. You hear a small business owners story and you want to help them, when you realize that you’re small businesses are what make your town unique, your neighborhood unique, you almost have a responsibility to support them, to continue to make your neighborhood interesting and a place you want to live as well.”
The show is how Deluxe is able to show communities what they are capable of and how effective marketing can make a difference in small businesses. Brinkman said that business has to be about more than just selling people stuff.
Tips for small businesses
She shared common misconceptions and mistakes that small businesses make.
“Every small business often feels that they need to be on social media, because they hear about it so often and we consume it personally quite a bit,” Brinkman said. “However you really have to think about where your audience is and where they are looking for that type of a message…”
She continued to say that businesses have to pay to play in social media because even the businesses followers are not all being reached. She recommended small businesses should have an outside partner track marketing trends.
“I think every business owner needs to focus on what they can uniquely do to grow their business and then making sure their spending their time just on that…” Brinkman said.
Brinkman shared that one of the things that that they find can be the most successful is when small businesses were actually out spending time with the community and going to the community events.
“It’s really important to spend the time diversifying the kind of marketing that you do and social media isn’t always the answer,” Brinkman said.
She stated that the one thing that a business can not pass on in the first year is marketing. People need to know that the business is there in order for the business to succeed. Another thing for small businesses is to make sure that they’re findable online.
A simple thing a business can do is claim their Google Listing and it is free.
“Having Amanda share her insight is beyond valuable,” Fitch said. “She understands small business and wants to see them avoid the pitfalls that are too common in entrepreneurship. But even if you do encounter one of those pitfalls, her knowledge will give you a lifeline to get yourself up and going again.”