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Greater Hartford Small Businesses Launch Online Community to Enable Digitization of Products and Services

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The Small Business Collective, West Hartford Coworking, Moppets Drop-In Childcare, West Hartford Chamber of Commerce and others band together to support the local economy as they grapple with the COVID-19 crisis.

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An unprecedented partnership between local businesses has enabled the launch of The Small Business Collective Online Virus Support Community​ – a private Slack-based workspace focused on supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs as they navigate the impact of the coronavirus.

The channel provides content and consulting services in a variety of categories including marketing, sales, finance, and insurance, as well as health and wellness content and even music and entertainment – all curated from experts and providers throughout Greater Hartford.

Adding to the impact of COVID-19 on local businesses is the closing of schools, leaving children home with parents as they try to keep business going. To help provide support, The Small Business Collective and client Moppets Drop-In Childcare, have created an additional virtual content channel for kids called “Moppets On the Go!” The paid channel will provide online story times in English and Spanish with surprise guest authors, music and movement classes, creative printables, and more, to help parents occupy and engage their children while they manage to work.

“As one of the newer businesses in town, we were poised to feel the impact of the outbreak more acutely than established businesses,” said Moppets Owner and Director, Miriam Varnai. “The idea of virtual content was on our radar down the road as an important way to digitize our otherwise brick and mortar-based offering, but when the situation began to escalate, we knew now was the time to move fast and think creatively to better serve our members and the greater community.”

As many global organizations generously extend their services, content, and technology for free, small businesses are left struggling to move quickly to translate their products and services online with the hope of keeping the lights on, supporting their families and staff.

“With both a physical space and a services business, I felt the strain from both perspectives,” said Annisa Teich, owner of The Small Business Collective – a small business-focused marketing group – and West Hartford Coworking. “Our online community was developed to give entrepreneurs the resources they need to work on their business in this slow season and come out of it stronger and more prepared than before. It is also meant to provide visibility and lead generation for all our expert contributors when face-to-face networking is barred.”

Alongside Moppets and The Small Business Collective, initial contributors to the community include financial planner Eric Bergenn, business consultants Grace Napolitano and Beth Bolton, content creator Nan Price, insurance expert Ryan Keating, talent development group The Bolder Company, DJ Q Boogie, marketing and mindset coach and yoga teacher Prati Kaufman, and many more to be announced.

Among the collaborators on this project is the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce which will manage a private Slack channel available to chamber members – free of cost for the first month. The Chamber plans to use this community as a forum and support for chamber members, and a way to hold and house virtual meetings.

“As updates on mandates and closures rolled in, we knew it was our duty as champions of this community, to find a creative way to provide support,” said West Hartford Chamber Executive Director Chris Conway. “Seeing this come together so quickly and with the help of so many local businesses, many of them chamber members was inspiring and further validates the strength of our small business community.

Some of the hardest-hit industries are restaurants, hospitality, and entertainment – with some of the biggest global and local events being postponed or even canceled. DJ Q Boogie (Quiana Coachman-Strickland), a professional DJ, has felt this firsthand. “It seemed that with every news alert there was an email canceling a booking,” said Coachman Strickland. ”My work largely requires me to be there, mixing music on the turntables and creating memorable moments for my clients and guests. Contributing to this community not only gives me a forum to bring music to the masses in new and exciting ways, but has allowed me to think outside the box as to how I plan and better prepare my business going forward.”

Access to The Small Business Collective Online Virus Support Community and all its content is just $79 per month. Subscriptions to Moppets On the Go! Start at just $10 per month. Both can be purchased at www.thesmallbusinesscollective.com/community.

Teich is also offering all members of West Hartford Coworking access to all of the available content, including Moppets On the Go! for free as part of their membership.

Businesses interested in contributing content or services to the community are asked to visit www.thesmallbusinesscollective.com/community​and complete the application form.

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