Redesigning the City of Austin’s Small Business Program

Man with Classes

This is the final part of an ongoing research project that aims to understand how people navigate the City of Austin’s Small Business Program services and how they get value from the system. Our research began with PeopleFund, a community lender, and expanded in its scope as we learned more about the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Preliminary themes from our research can be found in part 2, our service slice evaluation can be found in part 3, and information on insights gathered can be found in part 4.

After four months spent researching the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, this project concludes with design criteria aimed to improve the City of Austin’s Small Business Program.

My research has led me to conclude that the Small Business Program does not holistically prepare entrepreneurs to launch a business. Although everyone I spoke to appreciated the wealth of resources the city makes available, many found it difficult to navigate the path to actually getting their first customers. In addition, there are key skills that the Small Business Program does not promote, such as confidence in public speaking, that could benefit small business owners. Networking contributes significantly to business success, and this is one area in which the city can focus on to help strengthen entrepreneurial skills.

For a full summary of the research and a look at the design criteria I’ve created, please visit my website.