Entrepreneurship center programs serve as a catalyst to help businesses get started, and among the most important duties these programs have is providing entrepreneurs with the knowledge and means to develop their own relationships with potential customers. Small business support and entrepreneurial educational programs are critical in entrepreneurship-led economic development in a community. But how can entrepreneurship programs analyze needs within the community, and how can they find the entrepreneurs whose voices they want to amplify? How can programs provide live examples as part of technical training? Using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to gain and maintain relationships with entrepreneurs in the community can not only strengthen those relationships, but provide entrepreneurs with hands-on technical training and assistance. CRM platforms, along with a robust program management tool, are a game changer when it comes to running programs for entrepreneurs.
What is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system?
CRM systems encourage business growth, enhance profitability, and promote customer retention by providing the necessary tools for efficiently managing customer relationships. Simply put, they are a technological hub for all things customer relations. The best platforms offer customization for specific business needs, including streamlined processes for collecting data that entrepreneurship centers rely on to report demographics and adjust their services to provide the best user experience. Add to that the ability to track the entrepreneur’s journey inside the ecosystem from day one.
The goal of CRM platforms is to facilitate customer relationships in a way that allows the customer experience team, service provider, or program manager within the ecosystem to spend more time building and nurturing those relationships with customers (entrepreneurs) while accelerating their businesses’ growth. Entrepreneurship centers may not need all of the features of a true CRM, but they need a CRM that amplifies their specific efforts and maximizes their ROI. They need a CRM that works seamlessly with their other tools.
What is a program management tool?
A program management tool is essentially a hub where entrepreneurship program centers can showcase all of the educational and cohort-based programs they have to offer in one efficient place. The best program management tools include CRM capabilities as well, allowing entrepreneurship center programs unimaginable levels of customization and ease of use. These technology platforms can be a source of organized information irreplaceable to entrepreneurs and businesses at any stage of development. Whichever important services your entrepreneurship center program has to offer, a program management tool can make them accessible to those who need it.
Why does it matter?
Customers matter! Any entrepreneur knows his or her business is nothing without its customer base. The sole purpose of CRM tech is to make customer relationships more easy and efficient to maintain. In the case of entrepreneurship center programs, this means getting to know and understand the needs of a particular startup or small business intimately. Management of details and specifics rests safely in the hands of capable CRM software, leaving the best parts of human connection to the individuals using it: meeting with the customers! The time innovation center managers could have spent doing the same tasks the software is built to streamline is now spent encouraging deeper conversations and tracking impact—not to mention furthering the reach of programs and the community growth that naturally comes along with small business expansion and success stories.
What are the specifics?
Entrepreneurship center programs have goals–providing technical assistance, funding, and resources for businesses, to name a few. How do these goals align with the services provided by a CRM platform? CRM systems are, for the most part, entirely customizable. They are designed with efficiency and personalization in mind. Each one is different, of course, and this is something to keep in mind when deciding on the best one to use for your own organization. A good CRM platform combined with the added layer of customizable features in a program management tool can make all the difference. The essential elements of success in entrepreneurial education are the groundwork for the features of the best CRM and program management technology for entrepreneurship-led economic development efforts.
CRM platforms provide a hub where customers and business or organization leaders can first connect. Campaigns draw the customer, and marketing efforts like newsletters and event invitations keep that conversation going. CRM systems collect, analyze, and use this data efficiently to help create future campaigns. The data shows what marketing and communication efforts are working, and the hub provides a place to connect and collect more data. The process serves as a driving force to attract new customers/entrepreneurs.
Program management tools take this a step further by allowing users to implement a campaign directly on the program that is being offered. Features like event calendars and media sharing make spreading the word about your program’s mission even more accessible.
Sales and marketing go hand in hand–you’ve attracted the entrepreneurs because they want to build their businesses, and you’re going to teach them how to succeed! CRM platforms provide simple modes for complex sales processes. Workflows are optimized and intelligent, representatives are assigned based on what best fits the needs of the business, and more time overall is spent nurturing and developing customer relationships.
Entrepreneurship center programs can use this feature for infinitely more than just product sales within a program management tool. Ultimately, the “product” for entrepreneurship center programs is making sure that small businesses and entrepreneurs get the assistance they need to either get started or elevate their business. Mentorship sessions, coworking spaces, and many more resources are available for use within a program management tool.
The ultimate goal of customer relationship management is customer retention. Retaining customers is more than simply not losing customers. Issues and escalations arise, but navigating these with compassion and efficiency is key to ensuring customer satisfaction. CRM platforms can offer a robust ticketing system for maximizing customer satisfaction and overall lifetime value, solidifying the customer’s role at the heart of your business.
In addition to seamless customer service within CRM systems, a great program management tool allows entrepreneurship center programs to offer their services. Advising, coaching, technical training, and providing resources to entrepreneurs and businesses are just a few of the services a program management tool can help your organization implement in an efficient way.
The use of CRM platforms and program management tools should be totally customizable based on the business or program’s products and services. Perhaps your program provides mentorship and coaching to entrepreneurs. This is your product, and the right program management tool can optimize layout and workflow for the best user experience with this feature. Whatever your goals as an entrepreneurship center program, a CRM platform that optimizes the effectiveness of your program management tool can take those ideas and turn them into an impetus for growing business, expanding reach, retaining customers, and maximizing return on investment.
Why should I use a technology platform?
Business development for entrepreneurs and economic development for communities are some of the most important services entrepreneurship center programs provide. These programs want to help startups and early-development businesses grow and succeed. Program management tools with CRM capabilities, like what we offer here at Economic Impact Catalyst with our Startup Space technology platform, are built specifically to meet the evolving needs of entrepreneurship and innovation centers.
Think of how you personally would want to use a program management system to catalyze your own business or program. Does your program provide technical assistance? Mentorship, seminars, workshops, training? Larger scale support like business development strategy or legal advice? Technological tools for managing your programs can be the framework by which your business or organization operates in order to fulfill these goals and provide the best support for startups and small businesses in your community.
Program management tools and CRM tech allow entrepreneurship center programs to reach out to the community and find those startups or early-stage companies whose work or purpose shows promise and scale. From there, the relationship can grow alongside the business. The impact of the business on the community can soar. The ecosystem thrives, and so too does the business and program. Not only can entrepreneurship center programs connect with entrepreneurs in the community through a CRM, but they can provide technical training and other skills to entrepreneurs through the program management tool as well. This type of hands-on learning is invaluable to entrepreneurs, and best of all, the community as a whole benefits from a lively ecosystem.
At Economic Impact Catalyst, our mission is to activate a world where there is equitable and inclusive access to entrepreneurship. We believe that entrepreneurship is the key to equitable and inclusive economic development. Our team’s main focus every day is to make it easier for founders to launch businesses in order to create wealth for themselves, for their teams, and for their communities. To learn more about our technology and market research solutions, built exclusively to catalyze entrepreneurship-led economic development efforts, book a call with us today.