From INSIDE BUSINESS by TARA BOZICK
Existing business owners meeting certain criteria have the chance to take a free six-month course valued at $10,000 that can help them figure out ways to scale up their businesses without traveling outside the region.
The Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity is bringing its Scaling4Growth program using Boston-based Interise’s “Streetwise MBA” curriculum to Hampton from December through June. Applications for 16 spots are being accepted now.
“It takes them from being an entrepreneur to a CEO,” said Kathy Dolan, department director of business development and outreach services.
The course is not for startups and it’s intense, Dolan said. This is for business owners who have hit a ceiling and need help figuring out how to go further.
To qualify, the business must be Virginia-based, certified as small, woman-owned or minority-owned and at least 3 years old with annual revenue between $250,000 and $10 million. The majority owner is the participant and must be willing to complete all assignments on time.
This is the first time the training, which removes the distance barrier and makes it more convenient for business owners, has come to Hampton Roads, said Erica Spencer, Hampton’s minority business coordinator. Businesses can take what they learn to bring more money or jobs to the region.
Subject matter experts will delve into the areas of human resources, finance, social media, procurement and “bank speak.”
“A lot of questions I get, this program could probably answer,” Spencer said.
Interise is a program partner and will measure its success by surveying attendees for three years, Dolan said. In Virginia, 97% of businesses are small businesses.
“The whole premise of this program is communities grow when small businesses grow,” she said.
Sharon Owens, owner of World Class Solutions Inc. in Newport News, graduated from the program by going to classes in Richmond. Based on what she learned, she changed her business structure and hiring practices and now meets monthly with her accountant.
She expects to increase revenue by 35-40% this year over last year with a goal of opening a retail shop soon. She also is partnering with a classmate on a job.
“You think you know everything, but you don’t,” Owens said. “There was so much that I got out of it.”
Participants must be available for a three-hour class every other Thursday starting Dec. 5 and must be available the other Thursdays, Dolan said. Classes will be in the Hampton Economic Development conference space.
At the end, participants present a three-year growth plan and celebrate with a graduation ceremony, Dolan said. So far, 63 people have graduated with 14 more scheduled to finish in November.
Tara Bozick, 757-247-4741, firstname.lastname@example.org
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