The opening session lays a critical foundation for the weeks ahead by introducing participants to the program and the growth plan they will be creating. This first in-person session will include an opportunity to meet faculty and business service providers and bond with fellow small business owners. Participants immediately begin working with their peers and participating in exercises that give valuable context and define the characteristics of a growth opportunity.
Diagnostics & Skillsets (online)
Participants use diagnostic tools to analyze the history and current state of their business. Reviewing the recent growth history of their business allows business owners to determine what factors – both internal and external – can accelerate or hinder growth. Participants focus on identifying key metrics for their specific business and discuss how these form the basis of a dashboard used to guide management decisions. The process of identifying and pursuing a growth opportunity continues throughout the program.
Financial Statements Workshop (online)
This session helps participants connect day-to-day business activities to the numbers found in their financial statements. Using a simple, intuitive framework and a series of transactions, business owners learn how financial statements are constructed and begin the process of analyzing to assess performance and guide managerial decision-making.
Money & Metrics (in-person)
This session includes a deeper dive into financial statement analysis and uses more complex financial statements. Key differences between service, retail and manufacturing business financials are identified and key metrics for each type of business are discussed. The impact of accrual accounting on financial statements is covered. Participants learn how to identify and begin developing the assumptions needed to drive a financial forecast.
Growth & Opportunities (in-person)
This session introduces techniques for identifying and creating opportunities for business growth. Participants will identify sources of innovation for their businesses and learn how to distinguish between a “good idea” and a viable business opportunity.
Marketing & Selling (in-person)
An effective marketing/selling strategy requires knowledge of the customer and how they perceive the value of the businesses’ product or service. This session asks the business owner to describe their current customer and competition in order to clearly define and refine their target market. Using this information, participants develop and hone their customer value proposition. The customer purchase process is defined and reviewed with a goal of better understanding the new customer acquisition process.
You are the Leader (in-person)
Many small business owners are looking to step out of the day-to-day operations of their business to become a more strategic and effective leader. In this session, participants gain a better understanding of how their personal leadership style influences their team and business, and then identify opportunities to enhance or adjust their approach to achieve even stronger business results. The importance of vision in effective leadership is explored and participants create a draft vision statement for their company
Feasibility & Risk Assessment (online)
Business owners inventory the key resources of their business, including what they have and what they need to grow. An assessment tool is used to identify the key risks associated with their existing business and growth opportunity. This includes estimating the potential impact of key risks then developing mitigation plans. A feasibility checklist tool is used to continue the methodical vetting of the participants’ growth opportunity.
Understanding Your Market & Customer (online)
Using market research and competitive analysis, participants further refine their marketing and sales strategy. The emphasis is on differentiation and customer segmentation as a source of competitive advantage.
Forecasting for Growth (online)
The focus in this session is on creating a dynamic financial forecast participants can use to assess the profitability of their growth opportunity. Identifying and testing key assumptions is reviewed and the impact of those assumptions on pro forma financial statements and key metrics analyzed. Business owners learn how to use their financial model to estimate funding needs.
Operations & Processes (online)
Processes are central to everything a business does and can be the source of value creation (or destruction). In this session, participants use an audit to evaluate current operational processes across their business. The key findings of the operational audit are used in a process mapping exercise, which helps the business owner identify places where their operations can be improved and better documented.
It's the People (in-person)
Every effective leader knows their organization will succeed only if they are able to attract and motivate an effective team. This session focuses on hiring and developing employees in order to build an organization that can both support growth and sustain the business owner’s vision for their company. In addition to recruiting and hiring best practices, participants learn how to develop a positive business culture that reflects their values and goals.
Operations & Valuation (in-person)
Key learnings from the “It’s the People” session are extended as participants identify what operations and processes must change (and how) if they are to successfully grow their business. Empowering key employees to take responsibility for critical processes is highlighted as an important step towards successful growth. The use of technology to make processes more efficient and scalable is discussed.
Negotiations & Action for Growth (in-person)
During the final session of the 10,000 Small Businesses curriculum, business owners learn the art and science of negotiations and develop effective strategies that create value though collaboration.
Participants then present their growth plans and receive feedback from their peers, business advisors and outside guests as they hone and prepare to implement their strategies.
In this session, we also discuss the post-program role of external business advisors (e.g., mentors, consultants, advisory boards) and intentional networking. Participants are also introduced to the 10,000 Small Businesses alumni program.