Written by Matt Camp, ICIC
Many entrepreneurs assume that once they have built a business, and operated that business for some time, that they’ve passed the most important hurdles. That is not necessarily the case. As a business grows an entrepreneur may not have all the tools they need to operate and grow that business at different stages of maturity. It’s a challenge felt across America by entrepreneurs who find that that their market is changing, consumer behavior evolves, their industry undergoes unexpected shifts, or when capital intensive events are on the horizon and new strategies are needed to grow revenues, customers, remain competitive, and thrive. In those instances, entrepreneurs need resources to help them devise sustainable growth plans that will help the businesses they established grow. Ensuring small business owners are well resourced to meet growth related challenges is critical to the success of small businesses eco-system and the economy. For example, small businesses have generated on average 64 percent of net new jobs in the United States over the past 15 years, demonstrating their importance as a driver of employment in our economy.
Planning for growth requires two critical components. First, management must be open to honestly and critically evaluating the business. Second, the business owner needs resources to assess all parts of the business and external tools to guide the development of a strong growth plan.
A leading resource for small business owners seeking assistance developing a growth plan is the 10,000 Small Businesses program of the Goldman Sachs Foundation. 10,000 Small Businesses is a $500 million investment to help entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing them with greater access to education, financial capital, and business support services. The program taps into the economic power of small businesses by providing entrepreneurs across the country with the resources they need to grow and create jobs. The program is currently operating in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Dallas, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City and also operates a national cohort for small business owners across the U.S. who reside outside of those cities.
Business owners accepted into the 10,000 Small Businesses program gain practical skills in topics such as negotiation, marketing, and employee management via a curriculum developed by Babson College, the leading private business school for entrepreneurship. All tuition and costs are fully funded by the Goldman Sachs Foundation. For the national cohort, business owners receive instruction via a blended learning model that includes online courses and then travel to Babson for two separate weeks, including the graduation ceremony, with travel costs and lodging funded by the Goldman Sachs Foundation. In addition to receiving tools to create a growth plan, small business owners in the program are assigned a business advisor who provides individual guidance, and they learn alongside a peer network of CEO’s from across the country.
Each business owner graduates the 10,000 Small Businesses program with access to an alumni network of over 3,000 companies that have graduated from the program, and a customized business growth plan that will take their company to the next level. The program cycles continuously throughout the year. Applications are now being accepted for several local sites, and the application deadline for the next national class beginning in the spring of 2015 are due by October 27, 2014 at www.10ksbapply.com.