Businesses can learn from US legend Macys

Posted Friday, May 16th, 2014. Filed Under Corporate - Tips/Tools Blog

I am in Canada and do not know if this exists but for those smaller companies is the US listen up… smaller companies are benefiting from the big companies know how. This is resulting in increased sales for both.

One entrepreneur who sells lingerie wanted to increase her business exposure from online to in-store. A small business association told her about The Workshop at Macy’s, a training program that teaches women and minority entrepreneurs how to get their products into major retail stores.

This women entrepreneur who sells lingerie for the curvy body-type was guided on colour choices consumers prefer. She made changes to her line and began selling her line in 10 of Macy’s stores as well as J.C.Penny sold the line through their online business. Sales jumped 700% in 2013 from the year before. What this woman entrepreneur liked was they held her hand through the process.

Unlikely pairings of large and small companies are making a difference. Small companies often struggle with a lack of funding and experiences running a business. About half fail in the first five years. Some large companies are coming to the rescue providing mentorship, formal instruction and cash in the form of loans or prizes.

For big companies, giving back can polish their reputation and even boost profits. People are more likely to support a company they know is giving back to the community. Working with smaller companies also exposes the big brand to the customers of the small businesses. The entrepreneurs are likely to tell customers about a company that helped them when they were starting out.

Some of the larger companies say working with small companies helps them attract and retain top talent. It can even help them identify hot products.

More than 60 businesses have been through The Workshop at Macy’s since it launched in 2010. Small businesses accepted into the program have no obligation to work with the retailer in the future. The program gives Macy’s access to new products to sell.

Another company reaching out to help those smaller companies is Goldman Sachs with their 10,000 Small Businesses program, which provides a free business course, spread out over several weeks.

The other benefit for both sides is networking.

Many of the businesses that participated have had good results: 64% of the small businesses that completed the program said they increased revenue six months after graduating and 45% added new jobs, a survey conducted by Wellesley, Mass.-based business school Babson College found.

The benefit to Goldman Sachs is that the initiative helps the bank recruit and retain workers. Recent college graduates want to work at companies that that have programs that give back.

Boston Beer is another company that provides guidance and mentoring. A small brewer in New York took out a loan from its Brewing the American Dream program. The small brewer heard about the program through Accion, a non-profit that provides small loans to entrepreneurs. Accion partners with Brewing the American Dream to administer loans using money donated by the beer company. Along with the loan Boston Beer gives advice.

Working with smaller companies helps the bigger companies breath new life into them and reminds them of the ‘small business roots’ where most began. The program has provided more than $2.6 million in loans to nearly 300 small businesses.

I love this idea of collaboration for the benefit of both sides.

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