Small Business Influencers 2011 Awards: Announcing Final Results

smbinfluencer-award-championThis past week we announced the Champions and Honorable Mentions in the Small Business Influencer 2011 Awards.  You may not yet have seen the award announcement, so I thought I’d also share it here.

The Small Business Influencer Awards, for those who don’t know, is a recognition of people, organizations and companies with demonstrated commitment to serving North American small businesses.

We live in the age of social media. After all, even the Weather Channel now covers Twitter conversations ….   So, we thought it was only fitting to integrate a significant social media element into the awards.  Here is how the awards worked:

  • They started with open nominations.  Anybody could nominate those they felt deserved recognition.  Many awards charge several hundred or several thousand dollars to enter.  However, we charged no fees.  We wanted the widest nominations possible — not just those who could afford the entrance fee. To underwrite the costs, we approached companies we had relationships with.  BlackBerry, our title sponsor, and Infusionsoft and Sage also raised their hands — BIG thank you!  They not only brought financial support, but just as important, they brought active social media and marketing support.
  • Once nominations closed, the community had 30 days to vote.  Anyone could vote, once per day, for as many nominees as they wished.  We allowed daily voting because it was a way for supporters of nominees to show how strongly they supported the nominee.  The idea was to measure not just numbers of supporters, but the passion and depth of that support.  Ultimately 125,164 votes were cast, for 520 nominees.
  • After that, a panel of expert Judges voted. The community voting was weighted at 40% and the Judges’ voting was weighted at 60%. The Judges are those who know the small business landscape, and bring knowledge of a variety of industries and subject matters — from franchising, to software and apps, to hardware, to marketing, to legal, to operations, to finance — you name it.
  • After the votes were tabulated, the top 100 influencers for 2011 were named.  We also ended up with a large number of nominees who came in very close on the overall votes, or had particularly strong community followings, or ranked high in their category for the combined community/Judges’ votes. We designated them Honorable Mentions.  Congratulations to the Honorable Mentions, too!

Below are the Top 100 Champions — the Small Business Influencers of 2011.  They are listed in alphabetical order.  Beside each nominee is a comment about one thing they are known for):

Abrams, Rhonda (USAToday small-business columnist and author of “The Owner’s Manual for Small Business”) (comprehensive website about business matters, with emphasis on financial and operations)

America’s Small Business Development Center Network (the 1,000 ASBDCs across the U.S. provide free counseling to small businesses)

Armstrong, Mario (small business tech advocate – Emmy winning TV show host)

Babson College (known for its entrepreneurship studies; co-founder of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor)

Ball, Alison (responsible for relations between Intuit and CPA/accounting societies)

Barone, Lisa (writes about social media, blogging and SEO for small businesses — popular columnist here at Small Business Trends)

Bates, Cindy (Vice President of Microsoft’s SMB marketing in the United States — even if you’ve never meet her, she has had an  impact on your business through the Microsoft products you use)

Bellamkonda, Shashi (social media swami who brought a human face to Network Solutions and has connected well with the small business market)

Berry, Tim (the “father” of business planning software — founder of Palo Alto Software, the creators of Business Plan Pro. Added plus:  he’s approachable through social media)

Better Business Bureau (the BBB arms small businesses in the U.S. and Canada with a way to demonstrate trust to the public)

Black Enterprise (powerhouse magazine and media company serving African American small business owners)

Blumenthal, Mike (thought leader in local search for small businesses – has educated small businesses across the U.S. through the GetListed Local University events)

Borders + Gratehouse (public relations firm with deep expertise in helping tech companies reach today’s — not yesterday’s — small businesses)

Brelsford, Harry (founder of SMB Nation, the well-known community for SMB tech resellers and IT consultants)

Brodsky, Norm (former business owner, now the “Street Smarts” columnist at Inc)

Cisco Small Business (for excellence in secure computer networking solutions, along with its educational outreach to small businesses)

Citrix Online (Citrix products have freed small businesses to operate lean and mean, by “meeting” online from anywhere)

Clark, Brian (Web thought leader in copywriting, aka the CopyBlogger)

Connolly, Joe (works for the Wall Street Journal, where he provides business reports for New York’s WCBS radio)

Constant Contact (pioneer in email marketing software specifically suited to small businesses)

Cornwall, Jeff (Director of Belmont University’s Center for Entrepreneurship — and a former business owner who not only has academic knowledge but understands what business owners face — and is a blogger, too)

DeBaise, Colleen (until recently, the Small Business Editor for the Wall Street Journal)

Delaney, Laurel (thought leader in exporting and global business for small businesses)

Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp (has helped countless small businesses establish their credit rating, a precursor to getting credit)

Eberson, Ilana (President of the New York City Business Networking Group, and a one-woman event-organizing army!)

Elance (online marketplace for small businesses to find project staff, and also a means to find business for thousands of freelancers and entrepreneurs)

Emerson, Melinda (author and founder of the longest-standing Twitter chat dedicated small business, #smallbizchat)

Entrepreneur (well-known magazine for entrepreneurs – also covers franchising)

Fenn, Donna (author of “Upstarts!” and “Alpha Dogs”, and Inc columnist)

Goltz, Jay (reaches small businesses through the You’re the Boss blog at the New York Times)

Google (its online productivity tools have lowered operating costs and enhanced efficiency for multitudes of small businesses)

Greene, Patricia (Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson College, with expertise in women entrepreneurs acquiring resources including venture capital)

Gregory, Alyssa (online community leader and blogger on small biz topics)

Guardian Life Insurance Company (serves small business owners, but gets the nod for “influencer” due to its innovative “What Matters Most” Index recognizing motivations and emotional drivers of business owners)

Hoover’s (relied on by small businesses and startup entrepreneurs for marketing campaign data)

Hewitt, John T. (founder and CEO of Liberty Tax Service – has provided opportunities for over 3,000 small-business franchisees in the U.S. and Canada)

HP MagCloud (enables any small business or entrepreneur to publish a print magazine, from online)

HubSpot (innovator in online marketing — recent example: announcing the acquisition of One Forty through a series of tweets)

Inc. Magazine (creator of the Inc 500/5000 list of fast-growing private businesses)

Intuit (long known for QuickBooks, the accounting software used by millions of small businesses, Intuit also gets a nod for its do-it-yourself website tools which it recently improved)

It’s Your Biz (formerly, this is an online website and media company serving small businesses)

Jantsch, John (author of “Duct Tape Marketing” and thought leader in small business marketing)

Kahn, Richard K. (CEO of pay-per-click company eZanga, and online advertising innovator)

Kerrigan, Karen (an expert on government policies affecting small businesses, and CEO of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council)

Kukral, Jim (thought leader in creative forms of online marketing on a tight budget, and author of “Attention! This Book Will make You Money”)

Kurtz, Rod (editor of HuffPost Small Business)

Lawson, John (thought leader and speaker on eCommerce, and on small businesses leveraging the Amazon and eBay sales platforms)

Lesonsky, Rieva (few journalists have covered the small business beat with Rieva’s length and depth of experience – ’nuff said)

Levin, Robert (founder and Publisher of the New York Enterprise Report, a magazine reaching over 30,000 small businesses — known for its detailed how-to articles by practitioners)

Manta (its online database of 64 million businesses is THE largest dedicated to business profiles)

Marks, Gene (columnist at New York Times and Forbes; he speaks with hands-on knowledge gained from his consulting firm that helps small business streamline their processes)

Mask, Clate (thought leader in marketing automation for small businesses, author of “Conquer the Chaos” and co-founder of Infusionsoft)

McCabe, Laurie (analyst with deep knowledge of the small business market; partner of SMB Group)

McCray, Becky (thought leader on rural small-business; typifies a small business by owning several: a liquor store, cattle ranch, and grant writing consultancy — oh and she’s a speaker in social media)

Merlino, Nell (women’s business advocate; founder of Count Me In and Make Mine a Million to provide business coaching and financial awards to propel women business owners over that $1 Million in revenue mark)

Miller, Sharon (CEO of the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center; serves low-to-moderate income entrepreneurs to help them start businesses)

Mills, Jerry L. (CEO of B2B CFO, which provides part-time chief financial officers — created an innovative model for small businesses not able to afford a full-time CFO)

Microsoft (its certified partner and specialist programs have enabled thousands of small business consultants to build businesses and thrive, and its BizSpark program has given 40,000 startups a helping hand)

National Federation of Independent Business (the NFIB advocates for small businesses on tough issues; known for its Small Business Optimism Index)

Nilssen, David (founder of Guidant Financial, and a thought leader in innovative forms of financing for small businesses)

New York Times (the “You’re the Boss” blog and its Small Business section bring a sophisticated perspective to small business reportage)

Nolo (pioneered plain-language legal documents, making legal forms and related information understandable by small business owners)

O’Berry, Denise (author of “Small Business Cash Flow,” and a frequent speaker and writer on small business topics)

ODesk (its innovative online employment platform lets small businesses hire staff, collaborate online, verify online time sheets and pay online)

O’Hara, Pamela (CEO of BatchBlue Software, she’s also a driving force behind The Small Business Web, a directory of small-business apps and their APIs)

OPEN Forum (a small business community stuffed with information and tools — a model for a large vendor-run community site)

PartnerUp (online community and discussion board for small businesses, by Deluxe; notable for allowing small businesses to present opportunities to partner with other small businesses)

Ploeger, Nancy (her tireless work as President of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce has positioned her as the “face” of small business in New York City)

Popick, Janine (thought leader in email marketing and CEO of Vertical Response; her blog and tips for small businesses are prescriptive and practical)

Ramberg, JJ (host of MSNBC’s “Your Business,” the only television show dedicated to issues affecting small business owners)

Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center (a unique model supporting entrepreneurs who are economically disadvantaged, including ex-offenders)

Roth, Carol (author of “The Entrepreneur Equation” and a thought leader in business strategy for entrepreneurs)

Sage (has over 3 million SMB customers in North America using accounting, HR and CRM software

SBA (the U.S. Small Business Administration is a model the world over for government helping expand small business access to credit)

SCORE (highly respected network of 13,000 volunteer counselors in the U.S. helping small businesses and startups)

Shah, Dharmesh (founder and CTO of HubSpot, and an energetic thought leader on “inbound marketing”)

Shaheen, Jennifer (speaker and Web design technologist helping small businesses with website/social media makeovers)

Shane, Scott (Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Weatherhead School of Management, and author of several  stereotype-challenging books on entrepreneurship)

Shephard, Bob (executive at the National Entrepreneur Center fka the Disney Entrepreneur Center)

Shinder, Marcy (leads programs at American Express OPEN designed to educate business owners in card usage and benefits — a key internal champion behind initially)

Simonds, Lauren (managing editor of Small Business Computing; thought leader in small business technology)

Simmons, Michael (as co-founder of the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour, Michael influences thousands of aspiring business owners on college campuses)

Stanleigh, Sean (editor of “Report on Small Business” at The Globe and Mail, with deep knowledge of the Canadian small business landscape)

Startup Nation (community of 100,000+ startup entrepreneurs, and home of the Home-Based Business Awards)

Strauss, Steve (USA Today columnist of “Ask an Expert” and author of “The Small Business Bible”)

University at Buffalo School of Management Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (for their work in entrepreneurial leadership skills development)

UPS (making global shipping and logistics easy for small businesses; has made an educational outreach to the small business community)

U.S. Chamber of Commerce (a business federation representing chambers of commerce and other business organizations that advocates for a positive environment to do business in)

Verizon Wireless (millions of small businesses use Verizon to connect their mobile devices; Verizon has also done educational outreach to the small business community)

Vistaprint (millions of small businesses have ordered low-volume print jobs economically through its website; known for its free business card offer)

Wall, Aaron (thought leader in search engine optimization; tens of thousands of small businesses use the tools that he has invested in creating)

Wall Street Journal (the U.S.’s largest newspaper maintains a relevant and energetic Small Business Section online)

Ward, Missy (co-founder of Affiliate Summit, the leading tradeshow for the multi-billion dollar affiliate industry that legions of small businesses earn income from)

Ward, Susan (long-time editor of’s Small Business Canada site)

Weltman, Barbara (small business tax expert with a knack for explaining complex tax issues affecting small businesses, in an understandable fashion)

Wood, Cheryl (speaker, author and motivator for women business owners)

WordPress (this open source software empowered millions of entrepreneurs to update their own websites; 22 out of every 100 new active domains are now running WordPress)

Yancey, Ken (powerhouse CEO of whose visionary leadership has modernized SCORE and kept it relevant and thriving in the age of the Web) (online community for the young entrepreneur segment, led by the Toren brothers)

Congratulations to all the Small Business Influencer Champions and Honorable Mentions!  For award badges go here.

Celebrate with us at the official Awards Gala on September 13th from 6-9pm at the Auditorium on Broadway in New York City. Influencers, nominees, judges, members of the media and the small business community will join together for an evening of celebration and networking.

If you were nominated but didn’t make it into the top 100 for 2011, remember there were many benefits just being involved.  First of all, it was an honor to be nominated. Second, participation this year raises your visibility and builds a foundation for next year.  You came to the attention of hundreds of thousands of visitors on the Small Business Influencer site.  Quite a number of visitors have remarked that they became aware of intriguing nominees they didn’t know before, simply by viewing the nominations.  Posts like this one from Kikscore even made recommendations for next year.  So, mark your calendar for next May to check back for the 2012 Awards.

Finally, many thanks to our Media Partners (I’ll thank you in a separate post!), and our Judges.  Judges were ineligible to enter the Awards, but were given special status as Influencers Emeritus (please note: Judges also refrained from voting for nominees with which they have a financial relationship):

Jim Blasingame, Founder of The Small Business Advocate

Rick Calvert, Co-Founder of BlogWorld Expo

Brent Leary, Partner of CRM Essentials

Joel Libava,The Franchise King

Barry Moltz, Author and speaker

Ivana Taylor, Founder of DIY Marketers

John Warrillow, Author and successful entrepreneur

Edith Yeung, Founder of BizTech Day

And of course, Ramon Ray of and myself, Anita Campbell, founder of Small Business Trends also participated as Judges.


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

25 Reactions
  1. Congratulations to all the nominees, winners and honorable mentions! This is a testimonial that people are moving forward with innovative, passionate solutions to the current business cycle. It’s inspiring to see so many awesome people taking the initiative to make business happen on their own terms. Thanks for doing this! I was honored to be nominated this year and included in such company!

  2. @Anita…I have shared beers and dinner with both yourself and some of the awarded SEO types above…and would admit quite openly that this list is one to strive to be “on” in upcoming years!

    Well done to you all….and keep on “SEO-ing” eh!



  3. Hi Deborah, I look forward to your participating next year. You made a showing to be proud of this year, and I hope that next year you or someone in your community will nominate you again.

    Visibility for all is my motto….

  4. Anita,

    It was great to be one of the Judges for this fantastic contest.

    I didn’t say that it was easy, though.

    Over 500 Small Business Influencers were nominated, and it was quite a challenge to choose only 100.

    Great idea…this small business contest.

    The Franchise King®

  5. Hi Jim,

    It was a lot of hard work for all involved, candidates included. Many thanks for your kind words. Next year we’d love to get more Canadians nominated!


  6. Joel, thanks for your help! Finding Judges who know enough of the small business landscape to decide intelligently was challenging — I’m glad you were able to participate.

    – Anita

  7. @Anita…grin….thanks…and yup, us Canucks have something to shoot for, eh! There are a bunch of us Canucks, btw, coming to the Ellicotville, NY #localU meetup in November…can you make it too? Would love to buy you a glass of wine!

    • Hi Jim, unfortunately I won’t be able to make that one in Ellicotville – would have loved to see you and others in the Local U crew there. I really got a lot out of the Local University that came to Cleveland where I met you, and liked the fact that it targeted small businesses, not so much the search professionals. That’s where I got a close look at the deep capabilities of Mike Blumenthal — I had run into him online many times, but through that event I learned how much there really is to know about local search nuances.

      That’s a big part of why I make so many connections and get out to attend events and learn what’s going on — because that’s how to get to know more about the players who impact small businesses. And had I not participated in that I’d never have met you in person. 🙂


  8. Congratulations everyone who are recognized in this prestigious event.

  9. Anita: Thanks so much for organizing this! I know this kind of project can take a ton of time and be all-consuming!

    There are some inspiring names on the list and the @DandB team is honored to have made the cut! Thanks again to you and all the judges who made this happen!

  10. Congratulations to all the winners! A worthy list.

  11. What I have enjoyed most about this effort is the tremendous talent and information that is offered by the individuals involved. Whether it’s the top 100, the honorable mentions, the judges or any one of the remaining nominees…

    I have started digging through the names and heading to their blogs or websites and am just blown away by the info provided by these folks. I encourage you to go beyond the list and find 10 new folks to follow. Keeping it to just 10 may be a challenge!

    To help get started, I’ve created a Twitter list that includes the top 100 winners:

    Let me know which new 10 folks you end up following. Cheers, Grant (@gwickes)

  12. Grant, thanks for creating that list — awesome!

    May I suggest adding the Judges to that list, if you haven’t already? They are Influencers Emeritus…

    Looking forward to seeing you on the 13th.


  13. Anita: Marvelous idea… Judges now added to list. I’m going to add the honorable mentions (or may make a separate list) since there are many, many unsung small business leaders in this group as well.

    Likewise I’m looking forward to the 13th… can’t wait to see everyon and what song @ramonray and @brentleary have cooked up for the event!

    Cheers, Grant

  14. Congratulations to all the businesses nominated!

  15. Well done to all!!

  16. Well done Joel.

    And all who participated

  17. Looks like this was a very popular award and best wishes to everyone whp participated.

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