Team Prime has been around for over 5 years now (cheers to that!) and along with all the growth, great clients and awesome people we work with, there comes taxes, payroll, lease agreements and other headaches associated with running a small business. As much as we'd like to say we know what we are doing, there's room for improvement. Heck, between Ben, Gregg and myself, we have two art degrees and a history degree and a grand total of MAYBE 4 to 5-ish business classes.
Enter the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. I was lucky enough to be referred to this program by Ryan Rickert, an alumni of the program from the year before who is a client and a good friend of mine. Goldman Sachs, you say? Small Business? "Sign me up," I'm thinking. I signed up, filled in all the required fields, and after a thorough interview process, I found out I was the recipient of one business education golden ticket to Babson College, located outside Boston, MA.
What did I get out of the program? Besides lack of sleep and a new-found love/hate with Excel? Here you go:
1. An opportunity and a detailed five year growth plan.The end goal is for small business owners to look at an opportunity for their businesses to grow, to take advantage of the curriculum and resources provided by Babson, and create a timely, accountable plan for turning that opportunity into results. Topics covered range from financial analysis, to marketing, to leadership skills and everything in between. The "classroom" materials were great, the faculty outstanding, but most of all, being able to bounce ideas off a motivated group of other business owners was priceless. I experienced a new level of "Yeah, I get what you're talking about!" I didn't expect it and, at the same time, I greatly appreciate it.
2. What our strengths are and how to capitalize on them.Realizing that "Ah-Ha" moment when I finally figured out that Quickbooks is actually your friend and can give you some very valuable information, especially when it comes to forecasting and how that plays into the growth opportunity. Growth isn't just growth. If you don't plan accordingly, you can grow your business right into bankrutpcy or a multitude of other issues. Specifically for us here in the Prime office, we like each other a good portion of the time. Ben, Gregg and I really pride ourselves on trying to provide the best work environment that we can and set up our employees for success. When your company culture takes such an important role in the business, and there's growth potential, there's the risk of finding the right people that can deal with the rest of us-- as well as provide the skills necessary to continue to create the amazing work that we do. Synopsis - know what you're business's strengths are, make a plan, develop a process, and then make it happen.
3. Why networking is the greatest form of business awesome.
This is the case, especially when you're lucky enough to be surrounded by so many driven, like-minded, small business professionals as were in attendance during my time at Babson. One small, yet very important note about the program; each category of small business is capped at a finite number of participants, so you get a wide variety of individuals from all over the country in all sorts of industries. There are some amazingly talented people out there running small businesses. I was humbled by what some of my classmates have already accomplished, and even more so, what they PLAN to accomplish through their opportunities. After going through this class, I will take every opportunity that's within the realm of reason to have us here from Prime attend classes and conferences to meet those like-minded people! Using Google to figure things out is great, but if you can email or call someone with first hand knowledge, you're one step ahead.
4. BONUS knowledge drop.
Extra special bonus point of knowledge about the Babson College program: The interview process does a great job of determining who should get accepted to the program. I think the ratio for my cohort was around a 20% acceptance rate. The type of person must be driven, humble, transparent, knowledgeable, creative, open, and engaging. The program offers a great opportunity to learn what your business is and a great framework for making it better. Everyone that I met in the program were all these things and then some. I'm lucky to have a new group of fellow business professionals, and more importantly, friends!
The Babson program wasn't the end all, genie in the bottle, ensuring continued growth and profitability for the next 20 plus years. It provided the foundation and the education to take the reigns and make it happen. It was a lot of work over the past few months, and there's going to be a great deal of work, risk and perseverence over the next five years to make our plan happen. But my confidence is high in our plan, our employees and where I know we can take the business, all the while maintaining our not-so-corporate, hard-working, fun-loving attitude that we've had over our initial five years!
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