Q&A: Recent $10K Grants and Other Advantages for Entrepreneurs


Verizon’s program for small business recently released information on its latest round of grant funding. The grant program is in partnership with LISC, and thru it, Verizon Small Business Digital Ready has committed $1 million in small business grants for 2023.

To turn into eligible for the grants, you have to first join Verizon Small Business Digital Ready. It’s free.

With VSBDR, you’ll not only get access to courses, live coaching sessions led by industry experts and other resources, but you’ll also have the ability to use for the exclusive pool of $10,000 small business grants.

To unlock the appliance for the present round of grant funding, register on Verizon Small Business Digital Ready, complete any combination of two courses, coaching events, and community events, and apply by May 12, 2023. 

Last yr, we reached out to Brianna Ellison, director of community engagement for Verizon, as a part of our initiative to bring the Verizon Small Business Digital Ready program to entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners. She described among the marketing tools, one-on-one mentoring and other features of this system that may help small businesses throughout Michigan and the Great Lakes region.

  1. What work is Verizon doing within the Detroit/Michigan community to assist small businesses?

Verizon has actively partnered with Michigan small businesses. We’re members of various chambers of commerce and associations from across the state that work with small businesses (similar to the Detroit Regional Chamber, Grand Rapids Chamber, Dearborn Chamber, The Right Place, MI Chamber, Automation Alley, Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance, MI Business Incubator Assoc.). Verizon participates in various thought leadership events with these organizations to share expertise and resources with their membership.

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In 2021, we prolonged a grant to Grand Valley State University’s Veterans Entrepreneurship Lab. Veterans and/or military spouses work on their business launch over a three-month period. MVE-Lab equips participants to discover their goal customers, network with others, and find the resources they should launch profitably and successfully. It concludes with a Pitch Showcase awarding at the very least $25,000 in prize money. Guests include other veteran entrepreneurs, mentors, and experts like attorneys and marketing specialists, including the leader of Verizon’s veteran worker resource group who shared details about Verizon support for small business owners along along with his own personal experience as an entrepreneur.

Brianna Ellison

In 2021, we also established a partnership between Verizon’s Pro Bono Program and the Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance’s Capital Connect Program. This program is preparing and connecting Metro Detroit Black-owned businesses to varied funding resources to make sure their sustained success. If any of those businesses need further legal assistance or one-on-one support, the Verizon Pro Bono Program team has agreed to work directly with these businesses to discover additional legal services.

Finally, in September, Verizon launched Small Business Digital Ready.  This online curriculum is designed to provide small businesses the personalized tools to achieve today’s digital world. This system includes learning modules, expert coaching, peer networking and a marketplace of tools and solutions.  The free online resource is obtainable to any small business across Michigan (and nationwide) and shall be utilized by Verizon partners similar to the Black Business Alliance’s Capital Connect Program.

  1. What do you mean by “Digital Ready” and why is digital readiness vital for small business owners today?

Digital readiness is about ensuring businesses have all of the tools and resources they should thrive in today’s economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed unexpected challenges on entrepreneurs and further accelerated a shift to digital ways of working.  Greater than 75% of small businesses pivoted their operations as a result of the crisis and greater than 50% of SMBs say their online interactions with customers have increased. To remain competitive in the brand new economic environment, small businesses should be agile and adapt to shifting consumer preferences.

Small business entrepreneurs understand the importance of utilizing digital tools of their day-to-day operations, but find it difficult to implement meaningful digital transformation. In keeping with data published from Morning Seek the advice of and Verizon of their September 2020 report, “greater than two in five decision makers say it is probably going that their business will expand through digital technologies and rely more heavily on communications.” At the identical time, greater than two-thirds of respondents acknowledged that adding or transitioning to digital/online operations has been difficult for his or her business to handle. How can we bridge this gap? Entrepreneurs need quick access—wherever they’re—to personalized learning and training resources to be able to successfully implement digital strategies into their businesses and have the arrogance to achieve the post-pandemic future.

  1. Why is the Verizon Small Business Digital Ready program a great resource for business owners in metro Detroit and Michigan?

Home to varied research organizations and anchor institutions, together with a vibrant and multicultural entrepreneurial ecosystem, Detroit’s wealthy roots embody the hardworking and progressive ethos of its diverse small business owners. Detroit has roughly 50k small businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color and town is committed to making sure residents are gaining equal access to educational and economic opportunities of the emerging high-growth economy. In keeping with a 2021 Detroit Ecosystem Assessment, Detroit has 23% of all startup firms in Michigan and has the entire essential resources to launch and grow businesses which might be digital ready. As Verizon seeks to attach BIPOC business owners across the country with this worthwhile resource and create more equitable pathways for entrepreneurs to thrive within the digital economy, we view the small business owners within the greater metro Detroit area—and Michigan—as a critical user base in the hassle.

Verizon’s Small Business Digital Ready program was built by (mostly BIPOC) small businesses for small businesses. Jamiel Robinson, the manager director of Michigan-based business development organization, Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses (GRABB), was a outstanding voice within the Small Business Advisory Committee that helped shape this system and its offerings. Diverse subject material experts drive our content, interactive video modules, and training events. In brief, entrepreneurs in metro Detroit shall be equipped with digital strategies and relevant learnings—through curated curriculum topics, coaching events, and community groups—to use to their businesses!

  1. What guidance are the small business owners you’re employed with looking for?

We all know generally that small business owners are thinking about learning more about financing, digital marketing, and operational efficiency.  Our users have told us they’ve received tremendous value from the tutorial resources and in connecting directly with experts–through each one-on-one mentoring and group coaching events. Fifty-eight percent of users on the platform are thinking about connecting with a finance expert and 64% of users on the platform are thinking about connecting with a marketing expert. The most well-liked topic areas are accessing capital, digital marketing, and improving online presence. Business owners would also prefer to be a component of a community where they will learn from each other, as 52% of users wish to connect with peers with similar interests.

  1. How can Verizon help with community networking on a private level, not a digital one?

Verizon Small Business Digital Ready is built to be a worthwhile tool to the BDOs, Small Business Development Centers, CDFIs and other organizations which might be on the bottom helping small businesses day-after-day.  We’re partnering closely with all these organizations and dealing with them to integrate our resources into their offerings. Small Business Digital Ready’s community section also lets businesses connect with other businesses and resources by city in order that they will hook up with support of their local area!

On the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Verizon began the grassroots work of hosting virtual community dialogues focused on small businesses in communities from across the state. The aim of those dialogues is to listen to in regards to the great work small business owners and small business development organizations are currently engaged in, the present and ongoing challenges small business owners are facing, and to debate how Verizon might be supportive moving forward. Attendees have included small business owners, small business support organizations and chambers of commerce.

Now greater than ever, we at Verizon will proceed to construct on the incredibly worthwhile relationships with the communities we serve. These dialogues are only the start of what we hope shall be long-term partnerships where we are able to proceed the conversation and explore future opportunities to be supportive.

  1. What skills do you bring to the community as a liaison between Verizon and small business owners?

As a neighborhood liaison between Verizon and small business owners, I work to construct bridges of reference to my peers, internal business partners and external stakeholders to champion policies that enrich lives and enable a digital future that serves all Michigan communities. I’m in a position to leverage relationships inside Verizon and with business support organization partners to form coalitions to tackle the challenges small businesses face, amplify successes and best practices, and disseminate details about Verizon tools and resources. Reflexively, I meet with businesses to hearken to their needs and drive the way in which during which we deposit goodwill in our local communities and innovate to construct the networks that move the world forward for everybody.

Originally published in September 2022.

Verizon Small Business Digital Ready: A free resource for learning basic business skills, grants, the latest digital technology and more.


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