Stemming from a eureka moment during a brief, late night, brainstorming session on how three friends could play a part in the National Small Business Week recognized across the country each June, AJ and Friend’s Small Business Night Out has quickly become a monthly-must for leagues of local small business owners and professionals. In only four months, city native AJ Johnson, along with partners Tyron Harris and Kennard Ray have brought hundreds of men and women with an interest in small business across the threshold of some of the city’s most economically and culturally diverse businesses.
With the collective belief that small businesses are the economic engines that drive and grow com-munity, the group, with Mr. Johnson at the helm set out to connect their personal and professional net-works. From family-owned restaurants to high-tech startups, the group wove together their contacts into an interconnected network of entrepreneurs and small-business owners who were hungry to learn and grown their businesses. With over 70 of their friends in attendance for their first event, held on June 20th 2013, at South Downtown’s Hook & Ladder Restaurant with less than 10 days of promotion – the group quickly realized the growth potential of Hartford’s small business community.
Holding an event each month, alternating between the third and fourth Thursday between the hours of 6:00PM – 9:00PMsince their initial success at Hook & Ladder, #SBNO as it has become known in the social-sphere has found it’s niche. With each event growing in attendance and exceeding more than 100 patrons at each night out – AJ and Friend’s Small Business Night Out has provided creative and cost effective advertisement and exposure to diverse audiences by hosting these monthly mixers at local small businesses. By linking business owners with fellow business owners, consumers, local and state elected government officials and scores of others with interest in community and business in Hartford, AJ and Friend’s has begun to string together a vital thread to the city’s ongoing revitalization.
Furthermore with earned media appearances on local journalist Stan Simpson’s “The Stan Simpson Show”, televised acknowledgements by WFSB news anchor Irene O’Connor and support, on-air mentions and event hosts from market leading FM radio station WZMX 93.7, the word about AJ and Friend’s Small Business Night Out is out, and as the buzz grows so does SBNO’s potential and capacity to introduce more of their friends – new and old – to Hartford’s businesses.
Supporting Our Own Community
I know that small businesses are the engines that drive our Community. From family-owned restaurants to high-tech startups, entrepreneurs and small-business owners are crucial elements of our communities and our economy.
They “represent the essence of the American spirit”. I have invited all my friends and small business owners to come out and patronize a local small businesses in Hartford.
I realized that small businesses have generated two-thirds of all new American jobs and we want to insure that the residents of our city can live, work and play in Hartford. Government can not ensure a businesses success, but it can foster the conditions that support hiring of new workers by providing tax relief and increasing the availability of Small Business Administration (SBA) resources. Each month we are inviting you to come out and patronize our selected small business that keeps our city going.
AJ’s & Friends Small Business Night Out Will:
- Introduce Young Professionals To A Local Hartford Business.
- Promote Local Hartford Businesses.
- Provide Creative & Cost Effective Advertisement.
- Exposure Among a Diverse Audience.
SBNO is focused on providing you and our valued members, with the tools and resources to take your business to the next level.
Joining SBNO means that you’ve taken a step in the right direction to tap into the power of an already established community of successful small business owners, entrepreneurs and the platform to raise your voice to affect change and influence within the business community.
More than just a monthly mixer
SBNO is a progressive business network that works each and everyday to connect local, responsible, small business owners and aspirants with one another, vendors and other links in the supply chain as well as customers and the community-at-large.
In a relatively short time our membership network has come together to bolster the value of doing fair and equitable business locally with a clear and stated mission of strengthening and growing our local economy.