As the owner of a small business, you’re juggling a lot of priorities. How about your own learning and development? That education may take many forms. For example, you may find it helpful to join a peer-to-peer organization where you can get help from other business owners. Or maybe you’re more in the mood for a boot-camp-style business school?
Whatever type of help or support you’re looking for, there’s likely a great resource out there for you. Here are a few to consider.
10,000 Small Businesses
10,000 Small Businesses is an intensive training program sponsored by Goldman Sachs, and they have a presence in New Orleans. The courses are held over about 12 weeks in different cities around the U.S. Participants come together for modules such as negotiation, finance, marketing and employee management, with a focus on how to use these skills immediately. Guest speakers and coaches offer support to develop growth plans customized for each business to take them to the next level. There’s even support for alums after completion of the training.
To qualify, you must be the owner or co-owner of a small business that has been in operation for at least two years and that had at least $150,000 in revenue in the prior fiscal year. You must have at least four employees, including the owner. You must also be willing to attend an orientation session, 11 learning sessions, additional networking events, and to do some homework outside of class. Goldman Sachs estimates the weekly time commitment outside of class to be about eight to 10 hours, so make sure you’re ready.
As CEO or owner of a Louisiana small business, have you ever wished you could sit down with other local leaders to hash out solutions to common business problems? You can do exactly that with our CEO Roundtables program.
About once a month, a group of about 15 small-business owners and CEOs meets with facilitators and guest speakers to learn and talk about various business topics. Peers discuss their successes and failures so the entire group can benefit from others’ experiences.
To qualify, your principal place of business must be within Louisiana. You also must have annual revenue of $600,000 to $50 million, must employ between five and 100 people, and must work in the manufacturing, finance, insurance, administrative services or emerging industries sector. Retail stores and restaurants are not accepted. Other factors are also considered.
Applications are accepted between Feb. 1 and March 31 each year for the CEO Roundtables that begin in July.
Economic Gardening Initiative
The Economic Gardening Initiative is designed to help second-stage small businesses grow larger by providing them with specialized research and technical assistance. This program assumes you’re past the phase of developing a business plan, securing funding or hiring your first team. Now that those things are done, the Economic Gardening team can help you refine five key areas of your business: core strategy, market dynamics, qualified sales leads, innovation and temperament.
Under these five categories, the team uses sophisticated databases and geographic information to research and analyze your competition, your web presence, untapped markets, new opportunities and your current and future customers. This priceless information can help you target your sales and marketing information to better distinguish you from the competition.
To qualify for Economic Gardening, your primary place of business must be within Louisiana. You must also:
- Have annual revenue of between $600,000 and $50 million.
- Employ between five and 100 people.
- Demonstrate growth in revenue or employees in the previous two years.
- Demonstrate the ability to serve customers in markets beyond your local area.
- Work in the manufacturing, finance, insurance, administrative services or emerging industries sector.
Entrepreneurs’ Organization is a global network of business founders and owners. It has members in 52 countries, many also participating in their local EO chapters. The chapters routinely hold meetings and training sessions on a variety of topics. There are national and regional events as well, both for networking and education. At-large members are accepted if there is not an active chapter nearby.
The most useful and unique benefit of EO, according to many members, is its Forums: groups of seven to 10 business owners in a community who meet regularly. When you join EO, you have the option to be placed in a Forum. The sessions are facilitated by trained moderators who are also members. Everything said in Forum meetings is confidential, and the participants get to know one another pretty well over time. You can commiserate over your business issues, the struggle to balance life and work, or any other unique entrepreneur scenario you encounter. You can also celebrate your successes and be a model to others. Your cohorts provide support and advice as only those in the same boat can.
To qualify, you must be the founder, owner or majority stakeholder in an organization that generated at least $1 million in revenue the prior fiscal year. If your organization is venture-backed, you must have at least $2 million in private financing or $5 million in public funding, and a minimum of 10 employees.
Young Entrepreneur Council
The Young Entrepreneur Council offers many perks and benefits for young business owners. It has an extensive network of publications that share their content, so you can get exposure that way. It offers discounts on certain business services, including financial services, marketing and travel. It hosts networking events centered on art, business, sports and other topics all around the U.S., and it has a concierge team ready to assist you with any of these facets of your membership.
The best benefit of YEC, however, is the peer-to-peer learning from other business owners in your same situation — or a few steps past your situation, so they know how to help. Have a question about your industry? Talk to other young business owners in your specific field. Have a question about payroll for companies with 10 or fewer employees? Reach across any industry to just find the small-business owners. Chances are, someone in the group has experienced your issue before and can offer advice from an owner’s perspective.
The group is invite-only, but you don’t have to wait for it to come to you. You can request an invite if you meet the criteria. To qualify, you must:
- Be the founder, co-founder, owner or co-owner of a business.
- Be 40 or younger.
- Generate at least $1 million in revenue or have $1 million in financing.
- Be headquartered in or have an office in North America.
Louisiana Business Connection is the state’s first comprehensive database to connect small businesses and prime contractors statewide. Simply create a free account for your company then publish your small business profile or find qualified local business partners based on your needs.