Small Business Focus: Round round baby– Is your internet spinning you in circles?

This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

By Guest Author, Jennifer Skow, Arlington Department of Community Planning, Housing, and Development

Before the COVID-19 pandemic we were already living in an increasingly digital world. Then the pandemic made accomplishing daily tasks, obtaining information, and interacting with the world more intertwined with the internet than ever before.

Business owners without adequate capital for digital platforms or the skills to navigate technology risk being unable to compete for clients, customers, and more.

To find out if local businesses have the connectivity and the skills they need, Arlington County is conducting an online assessment called the Business eCheckup. The Business eCheckup will help the County learn about common e-commerce practices among our businesses, barriers to adopting online practices, revenue impacts, and internet quality and price. The eCheckup includes a built-in speed test for your connection.

Whether you are a business or organization that does not have adequate access or good connectivity, or you are a business with a strong internet connection and technical skills needed to leverage online platforms (or you’re somewhere in between), Arlington needs to hear from you! We encourage everyone to complete the eCheckup so we can get a full picture of Arlington’s internet use.

An eCheckup is also available for Arlington households. Both are part of a larger countywide Broadband Study to better understand the internet landscape in the County.

Ensuring local competitiveness in the use of online practices is why Arlington Economic Development created ReLaunch — to give small businesses tools to evolve and expand, despite our new normal.

Since its inception, nearly 200 businesses have received free consulting services that range from website and ecommerce development to leveraging social media and marketing and branding strategies. Through this program:

  • Arlington businesses are getting noticed — Through website development and better managing their online presence, program participants have expanded the number of customers in and outside of Arlington.
  • Businesses are navigating away from predatory behaviors and security issues — Participants learned the importance of setting up secure email addresses, gained a better understanding of cyber security and digital tools, and redirected lost profits to third parties charging for free services elsewhere.
  • Businesses are seeing their investments in broadband and more online exposure improve their bottom line — With access to capital, more digital tools, and a better understanding of online practices, many participants reduced costs and increased revenue for their business.

Share your story with us by taking the Business eCheckup or Household eCheckup — and encourage your friends and colleagues to take it as well. An investment of 20 minutes of your time will help the County plan for the future and provide needed resources for our community!