The Small Business Administration is turning to some of the biggest names in tech to help business owners be more efficient in their everyday operations.
Through a new partnership with Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB), Microsoft (MSFT) and others, the federal agency has built a site where business owners and entrepreneurs can access a variety of digital tools and resources to help them run their companies.
According to Tracy Terrill, the SBA’s chief digital officer, the site is designed to be useful across industries. “One of the prevailing misconceptions is that only tech companies need technical resources,” he says. “But no matter what your business, you still need to manage basic payroll, legal resources and other tools…things that can increasingly be done over the Internet.” The idea is to get businesses to bring more of their basic processes online, be it through sales tools from Amazon, file sharing from Box (BOX) or employee onboarding services from Zenefits (ZENEFITS).
“Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy and equipping them with technology and innovation will be vital in fueling their future growth,” Leyla Seka, senior vice president at Salesforce, said in a statement.
Of course, encouraging small businesses to embrace the digital world isn’t as easy as it sounds; more than 50 percent of small businesses in the U.S. still don’t have a website.
Each of the participating seven companies are required to provide educational content, such as video webinars and live, interactive blogs to help businesses understand the tools available to them. There are no discounts offered through the coalition, but some partners do provide free trials for select products and services, Terrill says.
While the site can also connect entrepreneurs to the 68 SBA district offices around the country — where they can receive traditional services such as help drawing up contracts and raising capital — the partnership aims to extend and modernize the SBA’s brand. The small-business landscape is changing, and the SBA wants to change with it, says Terrill. That requires incorporating digital tools into the agency’s strategy.
The site, which will include resources for managing areas including online commerce, productivity solutions, cybersecurity protection and improved customer service and shopping experiences, launches today at 12 p.m. ET.