Helping Small Businesses survive and thrive

1871’s Small Business Initiative (SBI) provides free resources and mentorship to “non-digital native” small businesses across Chicagoland and the Midwest. Developed in response to COVID-19, SBI helps small business owners tackle challenges, implement new ideas, and evolve for today’s digital marketplace and beyond.

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A Message From Our CEO
Betsy Zielger,
CEO @ 1871

Welcome to the Small Business Initiative! We are incredibly excited to have you here.

At 1871, we believe that technology can help strengthen and grow small businesses, but you should not have to be a tech whiz to take advantage of its capabilities. That is why we created the Small Business Initiative, a free resource for you, the small business owner who is looking to explore how you can best leverage tech to support and grow your business. 

Before you jump in, I would like to take a moment to highlight what you will find within the Small Business Initiative. Below, you will find a resource guide with articles and videos chosen to help you navigate the wide variety of options you have for getting your business online, managing sales, and connecting with customers. New content will be added to this guide regularly and, as such, we hope you revisit it to check up on tips and trends. 

Additionally, we know that running your own business can sometimes feel like living on an island. That is why we created a mentoring program where you can connect one-on-one with entrepreneurs and experts in fields like strategy, marketing, and e-commerce to bounce around ideas, get advice, and talk through ways to take your business to the next level. 

We hope that exploring the guides, tutorials, and resources below, leaves you inspired.”

SBI is your hub for small business support


Own a restaurant, barbershop, franchise, manufacturing facility, convenience store, dry cleaner, or are you a service provider?

  • Benefit from 1871’s network 
  • Get advice from vetted mentors
  • Learn critical subject matter
  • Receive a digital badge


We’re looking for mentors to help support hard-working small businesses with expertise in subjects like:

  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Business Development
  • E-Commerce


Browse all resources >

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Are you interested in 1871’s Small Business Initiative, but not sure where you fit in? Leave us a message and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.