Main Street Launch’s Marketing Intern Michael Fontana interviews Andrea Ramirez, Main Street’s Business Outreach Manager. Click here to read Andrea’s bio.
How do you work with and help small businesses as the Business Outreach Manager?
As the Business Outreach Manager for Main Street Launch, my goal is to reach out to all of Oakland’s small businesses to help them understand the importance of a strong online presence, and to ensure they know what resources are available to them to sustain or grow their business. Our strategy to increase the online presence of Oakland’s small businesses is to contact each one individually operating in a commercial space, whether it be by phone, e-mail, or in person, and collect information about the business to include them in Shop Oakland Now (Main Street Launch’s online small business directory). I also offer to help businesses who are not tech savvy grow their online presence by claiming their Yelp, Facebook, Google Places, etc. I ask about what each business needs to thrive and make suggestions as well as referrals to partner organizations that can assist them with their needs.
What is the most fulfilling aspect of your work?
Learning about all of the cool businesses in Oakland and business owners’ connection and dedication to The Town is really inspiring. There are several businesses that have been operating in the same location for generations. Learning about how they’ve help shape the neighborhood and their commitment to the community and its rich culture motivates me to protect these businesses and help ensure that they can survive Oakland’s period of rapid change.
What should clients do to make it easier for you to assist them?
The best way for clients to make it easier for me to assist them is to let me know what they need. I feel like small business owners are so used to being self-reliant that they have a hard time asking for help. Main Street Launch has a great network of partner organizations that specialize in a different aspects of small business assistance. By contacting me and letting me know what they need, I can be a great resource by directing small businesses to the right resource.
What main pieces of advice would you give new or growing small business owners about expanding their outreach, or in general?
Take advantage of the free and low cost resources that are available to you. If the first organization that you reach out to can’t provide you with what you need, don’t be afraid to ask for a referral to another. The organizations that offer these resources are each designed differently, so just because one was not a good fit, there might be another that can provide you with the assistance you need!