My buddies over at Intuit, particularly the JumpUp.com team, are in the midst of helping one lucky entrepreneur realize their dream by providing them $50,000 in products and service to turn that dream into a real business. The reason I'm reiterating that Intuit "gets" small business has less to do about the cash than and more about the great example they're setting for small businesses with their use of social media to drive the contest.
The JumpUp team, with the help of a great set of expert judges - Anita Campbell, Ramon Ray and John Jantsch - chose 5 finalists from over 1,500 submissions to compete for the prize. Each finalist has a page with their essay discussing their entrepreneurial dream, a home made video, a short conversation with me, and a few other tidbits that help the JumpUp community members get to know each of them. And this is important because the community will decide who the eventual winner will be.
In fact the community is encouraged to be a major part of this whole thing. First off the votes are flying in faster than the JumpUp team had imagined. Lively conversations are sparking up all over by the comments being left on the individual finalist's pages. Not only are they commenting, but they are stumping for their favorite "candidate" by enlisting their colleagues to vote for their favorite. Intuit has made it easy for people to add badges to blogs and websites inviting people to vote for "my candidate". So if you have a Blogger or TypePad account, you can help you're candidate get votes with a couple of clicks. And if you have a big Facebook network, you can put it to work for your favorite with the same ease.
Through this contest that will eventually allow one contestant the ability to "just get started" with $50K, the other finalists have gained so much exposure it can't help but raise their profiles and possibly increase their chances to realize their dreams as well. And the community in general wins as they should begin to see the power of how social media can be used to create excitement for ideas that can reach a wide audience, in a very short amount of time. And this all can be done without breaking the bank.
And this is why Intuit really gets it. This contest will help way more than the lucky individual who wins the cash. It helps anyone who is looking to understand how the power of Web 2.0 tools and strategies can help them compete, thrive and survive. Way to go Intuit! This is just the kind of role model needed to help "Jump Start" the small business community into embracing social media.
One last thing. There are a few folks commenting on the choice of business ideas represented by the group of finalists. Some folks don't seem to be thrilled by what they perceive to be the lack of exciting, complex, or innovative ideas. All I can say to that is the lion share of all small businesses operating today are what most would consider to be "boring", "traditional" businesses. These are the same businesses people have used to create the majority of the new jobs our economy is fueled by. They also allow regular people to buy houses, raise families and be positive role models to others looking to have their own business.
So I applaud Intuit and their panel of judges for standing up for "the entrepreneur next door"! Now go check out all the finalists...and VOTE!