Brooke Battle thought she knew everything she needed to know to start, and then grow, a small business. After all, she had worked in finance and had been on the other end of helping other small businesses launch.
Then reality hit.
“You would think I knew how to run a business,” Battle told a group of business and civic leaders gathered at the Regions Center Wednesday morning. “Yet it’s the most humbling experience ever. There were so many questions: how do you market? How do you do a sales pitch? How do you grow comfortable with discomfort?”
A veteran of the financial industry and nonprofits, Battle founded Swell Fundraising two years ago in her hometown of Birmingham, Ala. The company helps nonprofits raise funds in new and creative ways.
The company has succeeded, in part, because of Battle’s willingness to learn. And part of her learning process included attending an Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) conference last year in Memphis.
Battle spoke at a kickoff breakfast Wednesday about her own ICCC experience and encouraged area business and civic leaders to nominate small businesses in their communities to attend the August event.
Created by Harvard’s Dr. Michael Porter, ICCC reaches small businesses through four no-cost components: executive education, webinars, coaching and an all-day conference, while teaching businesses how and when to access capital. The program is focused on companies in or near inner cities or companies whose employees largely reside in urban areas. Of ICCC participants in previous years, 80 percent represented minority-owned businesses, and 32 percent represented businesses owned by women.
ICCC Program Director Hyacinth Vassell provided an overview of the program. Regions is serving as lead sponsor of the ICCC Birmingham Conference and is working with co-sponsors Birmingham Business Alliance, Alabama Power and Protective Life to encourage interested businesses to apply to attend.
“Our goal is to get you excited about what’s going to happen and to get you out there so you can help us identify the businesses that benefit from this free program,” said Leroy Abrahams, North Central Alabama Area President for Regions.
For more on ICCC, visit www.iccapitalconnections.org. Applications can be completed at http://apply.iccapitalconnections.org.