Whatever the stage of your business — aspiring, startup, established or mature — Thinking Bigger Business Media has the resources you need to grow to the next level.
We are a resource organization dedicated to providing the strategic, “how-to” information small business owners need to become more productive and more profitable. We also provide information that helps owners connect with resources within the business community that can help them grow. We deliver that information through a variety of media products and other channels easily accessible to business owners.
If you’re a business owner who’s “thinking bigger” and need information about growing your business, please check out these resources while you’re visiting our website:
- Thinking Bigger Business magazine (monthly)
- The Thinking Bigger Guide for KC Entrepreneurs (annual)
- Smart Companies to Watch (annual)
- Smart Companies Thinking Bigger® Radio Network – a lineup of daily radio shows on business and entrepreneurship
- iThinkBigger.com Extra, a weekly electronic newsletter
- 25 Under 25® Annual Awards program
- The Thinking Bigger Speaker Series
- The quarterly BIG Breakfasts
- The Thinking Bigger Learning Center with self-paced webinars and e-books
Founding & Ownership History
“If you want to start a fire, you’ve got to strike a match.” ~Stew Leonard
Two decades ago, in February 1992, two entrepreneurs, John Holsen and David Byrne, published the first issue of a new business publication. That publication, Kansas City Small Business Monthly, was dedicated to helping small businesses succeed. They placed Stew Leonard’s quote on the front page of that first issue, believing they had just lit a flame that would help light the way for small business owners.
That fire is still burning today — even as the name of the original monthly magazine has changed, and as the company itself has grown. Kansas City Small Business Monthly, the company’s flagship product, became Thinking Bigger Business magazine−Smart Companies Thinking Bigger® in February 2011, and the company now offers a variety of media products and events for business owners who “think bigger.”
When it was introduced, the magazine carved a niche among local business publications by focusing exclusively on small businesses — featuring editorial that offered strategies for growing businesses to the next level and dealing with challenges that business owners face every day.
The new publishers found it slow going at first. The turning point came when a business owner told Holsen that a Small Business Monthly article saved his business from bankruptcy. “At that moment,” Holsen said, “I knew we were a part of something that was too important to die.”
As the publication grew, the publishers added feature articles, special sections and profiles of successful business owners. They also began publishing the Entrepreneur’s Guide, an annual resource directory of business development organizations in Kansas City. (In 2008, the Entrepreneur’s Guide became the Thinking Bigger Guide for KC Entrepreneurs.)
In 1996, Holsen sold the publication so he could pursue other business interests.
A short 10 months after that sale, Kelly Scanlon and two partners purchased the business in August 1997. Within a year, Scanlon bought out her two partners and focused on putting Small Business Monthly at the center of Kansas City’s business community.
To make information as widely available to business owners as possible, and to allow them to choose how — and when — they want to receive the information, Thinking Bigger Business Media Inc. is now using a variety of media to deliver practical strategies for growing businesses, ranging from print to web to radio to live events.
In addition to publishing the monthly magazine, Scanlon began hosting a daily radio lineup in 2001 that continues to this day as Smart Companies Radio and has expanded to the national Smart Companies Thinking Bigger® Radio Network. A weekly e-newsletter was added in 2005, and a variety of events now attract hundreds of local entrepreneurs, including the annual 25 Under 25® Awards (founded in 2001), the quarterly Thinking Bigger Speaker Series (introduced in 2009), and the quarterly BIG Breakfasts (introduced in 2010).
An online Learning Center was introduced in 2010 featuring online courses, webinars, books, e-books, DVDs and other tools designed to aid learning for business owners in key areas.
A flipbook digital version of all the print publications was introduced in January 2011 for readers who prefer to obtain their information online, and the website underwent a complete redesign and relaunch in 2013.
Hundreds of area small businesses have been profiled in the pages of Thinking Bigger Business Media’s many publications, featured on the radio show, and honored through the 25 Under 25® Awards program. Readers have been introduced to little-known, but rising, companies like Three Dog Bakery, Boulevard Brewing Company, The Roasterie, Warehouse 1, LaserCycle, Original Juan Specialty Foods, Indigo Wild, Top Innovations, S&M NuTec (founders of Greenies pet treats), Oncimmune, Rhythm Engineering and many others.
Some companies have earned national and even international reputations in the years since being featured in the magazine, appearing on the radio show, or winning the 25 Under 25® Awards.
Rebranding & Renaming
In September 2008, the company began a rebranding process to reflect the growth mindset of the business audience it serves, business owners who “think bigger” in a quest to take their companies to higher levels of productivity, quality and profitability. The name of the monthly publication was changed to KC Small Business magazine, and the company name was changed from Kansas City Small Business Monthly, Inc., to Thinking Bigger Business Media, Inc.
Then, in February 2011, in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first monthly magazine issue, the company took the next step in its branding evolution and changed the name of the monthly magazine to Thinking Bigger Business magazine. At the same time, the magazine shed its tabloid newsprint format and debuted a glossy, four-color format.
As we celebrate more than 20 years in business, the company has evolved from a monthly magazine and has redefined itself as a complete information resource for educating owners about how to grow their businesses.