by Monica Selby 

Originally published by Serious Startups

Small business is the backbone of our economy.

We’ve all heard it. Over and over (and over) again. But is it true?

Earlier this fall a report from the Kauffmann Foundation suggested that it may not be. Tech companies do actually drive economic growth, so that’s good news for the startup ecosystem. But, we all know what a risky game starting up is, and we can’t always trust that tech companies will continue to grow like they have in recent years.

Still, startup founders and investors have learned a lot about developing businesses. Wouldn’t it be great if we could apply some of those lessons to other segments of the economy? The term “intrapreneur” defines employees of large corporations that push for innovation and change. Is there something similar for small businesses?

There will be soon, if the CO.STARTERS program in Chattanooga, TN has anything to say about it. Last month the program, based out of startup engine The Company Lab, announced a national expansion of their brand of small business development.

“There is a new approach to business in the high-growth startup world,” CO.STARTERS Director Enoch Elwell said in a statement. “Through CO.STARTERS we’ve adapted and applied those highly effective proven methods to micro-business, bringing together a community where these founders can thrive.”

Those of us in the startup world almost consider these techniques cliche now. Things like the lean startup method, customer-focused iteration, pivoting quickly to meet market demand–these things are so common they’re not even really debated any more. But that’s not true for the small business world, where entrepreneurs can labor for years before realizing they’ve missed the market.

With the national launch, CO.STARTERS is offering its curriculum in 3 different formats. The core curriculum covers the basics of business building, regardless of location. The urban and rural (coming soon) take that core curriculum and add in layers that will address the unique situations in each of those areas.

The CO.STARTERS program has already been adopted in cities around the country like Phoenix, Cincinnati, and Fort Wayne, Indiana. To find out more about CO.STARTERS check out their website.