Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 1.14.08 PMGrowing up, I watched my grandpa, John Manship, run his land surveying business in Anderson and realized very early that I wanted what he had. He was the boss. He controlled his own destiny. And because he was very good at what he did, he was able to take our large family on an annual vacation to Florida. And he would pay for everything for the entire family.

My grandpa had a very successful business for 40+ years. He worked until he couldn’t any longer. And he loved it every minute of every day.

Many of the small business owners I talk to share similar stories. Some have a big dream that they just have to pursue. Others need to get out of corporate hell, and some just want the autonomy to set their own hours and agenda.

Regardless of end goal, every small business owner faces challenges that didn’t exist a generation ago. The first major Internet browser (Netscape) is 20 years old. Facebook is 10 years old. And sites like Yelp and Angie’s List are having a measurable impact on the way local business is done today. The water cooler has shifted online.

Many small business owners have chosen to stick their head in the mud and ignore the fast moving world outside. 53% of small businesses in Indiana don’t have a website. Yes, you read that right. More than half of all small businesses in Indiana choose to stay on the sidelines and act as if the Internet doesn’t impact their business.

This keeps me up at night.

When pressed, many small business owners tell us they “don’t get it,” and therefore don’t trust spending their hard-earned money online. They get calls every day from SEO firms trying to sell them the top spot on Google. Or they see ads on TV featuring Danica Patrick touting a cheap do-it-yourself website builder. A quick online search shows more than 300 firms/freelancers in Indianapolis that build websites and offer online consulting help.

Where to start? A website? What about: Facebook, Twitter, Email Newsletters, Yelp, Google+, Pinterest, Content Marketing, Vine, SEO, Instagram, YouTube, Angie’s List, etc? Who can they trust to help?

I believe that Indiana can lead the nation in getting small businesses online. Google is working with groups like the ISBDC and the City of Ft. Wayne to help. Companies like Angie’s List started in our back yard. The west coast is focused on disruption and high tech. The east coast is focused on the Fortune 500 and Wall Street.

We have an opportunity to put Indiana on the map by focusing on the small. Small businesses account for 54% of total sales in the United States, and 66% of new jobs. Hoosier hospitality is all about great service and caring for others. Will you join us on Tuesday, May 13th for a launch party to discuss the Fight for Small initiative?

Use promo code “VERGE” to get your tickets for free.