Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post comes from JinJa Birkenbeuel, the CEO of Birk Creative, a creative marketing and branding agency.
For the last six months, I’ve been one of eight minority small business owners around the U.S. piloting Google’s Digital Coach program, which offers free workshops for small businesses on how to use Google’s tools for digital marketing. We’re focusing this pilot in cities with historically large communities of Black and Latino small business owners: Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Washington, D.C.
I run a creative agency in Chicago called Birk Creative, which I founded in 1997 as a graphic design and print shop–and a way to promote the country/hip-hop band, Utah Carol, that I formed with my husband, Grant. Over the last 20 years, I’ve grown the business to advise other small businesses–and now large corporate clients—on all forms of digital marketing, from designing web sites and online ads to writing social media posts to IT support. With the help of AdWords and Google Analytics in particular, I’ve expanded from a local shop to a full-service agency.
I’ve long wanted to share what I’ve learned over the years with other minority and women business owners. As a Digital Coach, I offer free, open-to-the-public digital marketing lessons (including tutorials from Google’s Get Your Business Online program) and share my own experience on how AdWords, Analytics and other Google tools have helped me solve business challenges.
Data shows that the total number of Black, Latino, and other minority-owned businesses is growing, and that U.S. Latino small businesses are growing at higher rates than any other U.S. small businesses. Yet Black and Latino-owned businesses are less likely to have websites and less likely to be online than other groups. Our goal with these pilot workshops is to help small businesses like mine participate more fully in the digital economy as they grow.
Since Google launched the pilot in late May, we’ve welcomed more than 5,000 business founders and owners to our Digital Coach workshops around the U.S. We host these events at locations that are familiar to our communities, from the Watts Public Library in Los Angeles to beauty salons in Detroit.
I’ve coached a variety of business owners, including a nail artist, a life coach, a children’s book author and a photo-booth rental company. And there’s one thing they have in common: They’re small, independent businesses or sole proprietorships in Black and Latino communities, all at the point in their growth when they know they can be doing more.
As my Los Angeles Digital Coaches colleague Roberto Martinez says, “Working as a Coach has been transformational. We’re not just presenting or teaching; we are working in tandem with the business owners to better understand how to get ahead of the market.”
After six months of meeting so many business owners from a variety of backgrounds (beyond Black and Latino) at my Digital Coach workshops, I’m inspired by them. Though they come to the Digital Coaching workshops to learn from us, our communities across the U.S. are benefiting from their contributions and expertise. As a Digital Coach, I’m honored to be playing a small part to help their businesses grow, so that all of our vibrant neighborhoods can grow, too.
If you’re interested in finding a workshop near you and to participate in our ongoing pilot in 2018, please visit https://accelerate.withgoogle.com/coaches
(Photo credit for image at top: Steve Capers Photography)