Small Business Development
Keen Independent helps clients understand the importance of entrepreneurship and small business growth in their communities, and then design and implement efforts to promote business formation and success.
Entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley. Throughout each day, including late nights and weekends, entrepreneurs in San José are planning, starting and expanding small businesses. As just one snapshot of local entrepreneurial activity — July 2010 — about 30,000 people in Santa Clara County were working to start a new business (based on our past research for the City of San José.) City of San José laws and regulations affect each new business — from business license requirements to extensive rules governing new construction.
Many other entrepreneurs are looking to expand existing businesses in San José or create a new company location within the city. Although they may have more business experience, they may be constructing or expanding a building for the first time, entering a new line of business, or locating a new establishment of their business in San José. Their backgrounds and knowledge of business also differ. Our past focus groups for the City included Phil from Phil’s Barber Shop on Race Street and the software engineer starting a high-tech company.
Unfortunately for the entrepreneur, a number of government agencies that affect their businesses have reduced the staff providing these services. Brick and mortar solutions had limitations even before these cutbacks as many of these entrepreneurs were working on their new businesses in the middle of the night or on weekends.
In our 2011 study for the City of San José, we asked entrepreneurs what local government could do to make it easier for people to start and grow small businesses in Silicon Valley. One of the key recommendations was to reduce administrative burden on small businesses. Although the City may internally see itself as a combination of different functions across departments, business owners see “the City” and do not understand why there isn’t a single point of contact for small businesses. Entrepreneurs want consistent and streamlined systems for permitting and zoning, registration and other regulations.
Keen Independent led an effort to develop a City Small Business Coaching system that will streamline business start-up and expansion in the city. This new system coordinates business registration, technical assistance, permitting and other interactions through an online Coaching Center and in-person services at the City.