In today's rapidly evolving economy, digital readiness is more than just internet access. It's about equipping entrepreneurs with the necessary tools and resources to foster growth in an increasingly online marketplace.
But with the rise of digital tools from AI to new ways of social networking, how can small business owners identify the most useful strategies to meet their goals? In fact, a recent survey found that 61% of small business owners said the ability to speak with e-commerce experts who can help establish a digital presence, digital branding, or social media engagement would be helpful as they look to navigate the year ahead.
This is precisely where Global Citizen partner Verizon steps in through the Small Business Digital Ready program — a dedicated online platform crafted with and for small businesses, the very heartbeat of our communities. This portal champions Verizon’s broader goal of helping equip every small business, regardless of its size or resources, with the means to harness the full potential of the digital economy.
V’Esther Goode, chef and owner of Boomer’s Kitchen & Catering, attributes a newfound sense of confidence to the Verizon Small Business Digital Ready portal. Before taking courses in the portal, Goode often felt stressed by running her business. Now, with 10 courses and coaching sessions under her belt, Goode feels empowered to take her business to the next level. Her five-year plan includes owning a commercial kitchen, increasing corporate catering, and hiring more employees.
“In the beginning, [this business] was just to get my son through college,” Goode reflects. “But now I know that this is something that I can leave a legacy behind with. When I go, my children will have something to carry on. My family will have something to be proud of.”
Verizon Small Business Digital Ready: A Closer Look
Verizon Small Business Digital Ready is part of Verizon’s goal to support 1M small businesses by 2030 with the resources to thrive in the digital economy as part of its responsible business plan, Citizen Verizon. Since its inception in 2021, Verizon Small Business Digital Ready has supported the growth of more than 200,00 small businesses nationwide.
"Small businesses are the backbone of our communities,” Verizon's Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, Rose Stuckey Kirk, said about the significant role small businesses play in local economies. “We developed the Verizon Small Business Digital Ready portal to give small businesses tools and resources that can help them succeed and, ultimately, help benefit their local economies."
But what makes this portal truly unique and special?
For starters, it's more than just another online resource; it's an interactive experience aimed at supporting digital transformation for diverse small business owners. By providing free online courses, tools, 1:1 coaching, and the opportunity for peer networking and access to grants, Verizon doesn’t want to leave any small business behind.
To build on that, earlier this month, Verizon Small Business Digital Ready announced new grant funding opportunities for small businesses totaling $500,000. Applicants who qualify and complete the application via Verizon’s Digital Ready platform are eligible for consideration to receive a $10,000 grant.
Whether a business owner is looking to delve into social media marketing, manage finances efficiently, or secure seed funding, Verizon has the resources to help small businesses overcome the challenges they’re facing today and position themselves for success in the digital future.
But the platform isn't just about gaining knowledge. It's about its practical application and forging lasting relationships. From providing over 40 on-demand courses to ensuring the availability of 1:1 expert coaching, peer mentorship, and networking opportunities, Verizon gives small businesses the tools they need to thrive in today’s digital economy.
“[What I’ve learned in the program] made things smoother, less stressful,” said Goode. “It has built my confidence 100 percent.”
Spanish language course offerings and events are also available, widening the reach to non-English speaking business owners.
Cultivating the Digital Dream: From Vision to Reality
By 2030, Verizon aspires to support a staggering one million small businesses. This aim reflects Verizon's dedication to fostering a digital future.
Verizon's endeavors underscore a pivotal message: In the journey of small businesses lie the big dreams of our local communities.
“To keep serving the same community that built my business for me is just amazing,” said Goode.
And in the success of businesses like Goode’s Boomer’s Kitchen & Catering, we find the future — a future that's more connected, inclusive, and digitally ready.