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Road Shows
Community Tool Kit

Community Tool Kit

Innovate Montana: Small Business Roadshows is a community event where business owners, startups and potential entrepreneurs are encouraged to network, share ideas and learn innovative ways to grow or start a small business. Innovate Montana works closely with local economic development staff, Chambers and community organizations to ensure that each Road Show is uniquely tailored to the community.

How do i get started?

The first thing you will want to do is read through the Community Tool Kit.  It can be found on this page or you can request a copy.   Once you are ready to start planning, email us to set up an initial call.

Choosing a Community

Innovate Montana likes to partner with smaller, rural communities that do not get these type of events as often.  We have found these are a great platform for members of the community to meet and network and connect.

The Road Show needs to be a community led effort and engage on a local level so it is important for a community to be in a position to organize and engage in this type of event.  Communities focusing on downtown revitalization for example have been quite successful.

Partners

We encourage any and all local partners to come the table to make this a success, including Chambers, economic and community development groups, networking groups, and business associations.  The more organizations promoting the event, the more successful it will be.

Innovate Montana will invite local resources such as SBA, SBDC, to participate as well. They will not do formal presentations but they will be identified and given a few minutes to explain what they do and how they can help.

Timeline

From the initial conversation to the completion of the event can vary from 3 weeks to 6 weeks.  It depends on the availability of speakers and conflicting community events.  The press release will go out 7-10 days before the event but the marketing can be started as soon as the date is finalized. 

Format

Road shows are hosted on a weeknight between 5:00 or 5:30 pm and 8:00 or 8:30pm.  The agenda can be changed according to the needs to each community but we try to keep things short and leave plenty of time for networking. 

The General agenda is as follows:

5:00pm Meet and Greet

5:45pm Creating an Entrepreneurial Spirit in Our Community

6:00pm Entrepreneur Success Story

6:30pm Social Media Marketing

7:00 pm Entrepreneur Success Story

7:30pm Networking

Location

The location for the road show is unique for each community.  It should focus on what the community wants to feature.  Previous events have been hosted at empty store fronts, not yet opened businesses, historic buildings under remodel and local restaurants.  The community is responsible for picking and securing the location.

Speakers

Just like with the location, the speakers are what the community partners want to feature for their community.  After initial talks, Innovate Montana will come up with a list of name of potential speakers from the discussion and suggestions from the group.  Generally the speakers are from industries that the community either wants or wants to improve.  We also encourage speakers from similar sized communities so that the audience might have a better time relating to their stories.   Innovate Montana will ask the speakers to participate as well as pay them a speakers fee.  We ask that the local community either pay for hotel rooms for the evening or have them donated. Innovate Montana staff will stay at the host hotel and pay for their own rooms to help offset the cost of a donation for the hotel.

Food and beverage

Food and drink is highly encouraged. Food increases attendance and (adult) drinks encourage conversation.  The community is responsible for purchasing and/or securing donations for food and drink. 

Sponsorships

Sponsorships and/or donations will be the responsibility of the community organizers.  Some costs to consider: Food and Beverage, Hotel Accommodations for speakers, venue payment.  All sponsors will get logos and/or business names on marketing materials.

Innovate Montana will pay a stipend to the speakers as well as cover all of the staff costs.

Marketing

Innovate Montana has created a ‘Marketing Package’ that communities can use.  The marketing package will have flyers and invitations that can be printed and used on websites and social media. 

Innovate Montana will send a press release to local media outlets as well as market the event on our websites and social media. 

Some other things to consider: Press before/during/after the event, submitting the event to local calendars, and radio advertising.

Business tours

Before or after the Small Business Roadshow, the Innovate Montana team likes to get out into the community or local area.  If possible, we ask the community to set up business tours.  This is also a great opportunity for the local media to participate.

Follow-up

After a Roadshow, Innovate Montana will follow-up with the community organizers for several reasons. First, we want to make sure we get appreciation to those that helped put the Road Show together.  Second, we will ask communities to nominate local business owners to have an “Entrepreneur Profile” done for our website and social media. And lastly, we would like to get your feedback on what worked and what didn’t as well as any outcomes from the event.