Education for Business Growth

Designed by Babson College, the nation's top-ranked entrepreneurship school, the curriculum focuses on practical skills that participants can immediately put into action within their company. Over the course of the program small business owners will gain the skills needed to recognize new opportunities, embrace practices that increase business growth and ultimately develop a customized growth plan for their business.

The curriculum is organized into 9 modules, each of which includes classroom discussion, peer learning exercises, skill building and experiential applications. Classroom activities are complemented by an integrated portfolio of business services, including: one-on-one business advice, legal and financial clinics, and networking opportunities.

Module 1: You and Your Business

Identify growth goals for the business
The opening module will introduce small business owners to the program and the growth plan they will be working toward. After meeting the faculty, business service providers and fellow small business owners, participants will immediately begin working with their peers and participate in exercises that stretch their visions for growth. We'll discuss the predictable and unpredictable problems associated with growing a business and help participants identify which specific metrics are best for measuring their business's success.

Module 2: Growth and Opportunities

Refine and articulate the business growth opportunity
During our second module we will introduce techniques for identifying and creating opportunities for business growth. Participants will identify sources of innovation for their businesses; develop, analyze and understand the competitive landscape for their businesses and industries; and learn how to determine if a new business concept is a "good idea" or a viable business opportunity.

Clinic: Financial Statements

This hands-on session is designed to help participants become more comfortable with the three basic financial statements and how to understand and interpret key numbers. In preparation for module three, participants will have the opportunity to conduct a financial analysis.

Module 3: Money and Metrics

Develop and forecast financial statements for growth
Financial literacy is essential to growing a business. In this module we will build on the fundamentals of financial statement design and construction. Participants will then assess their business's financial and operational realities and develop analyses and forecasting methods to best plan and monitor their business's growth.

Clinic: Your Are the Lender

Participants will take a step into the lender's shoes to evaluate small business loan applications. We will show participants the red flags that lenders look for, and help them prepare the necessary numbers and documents for a loan application. The clinic will also include a panel session with local lenders to answer specific small business questions.

Module 4: You Are the Leader

Develop and enhance leadership skills
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 module participants will 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.

Clinic: Negotiations

Knowing when to stand your ground and when to budge can make a good deal great. In this clinic participants will learn the dynamics of negotiation and develop effective strategies to create value though collaboration.

Module 5: It's the People

Build and sustain a healthy organization
"It's the people" focuses on developing employees and building an organization that can both support growth and sustain the participant's vision for their company. In addition to recruiting and hiring best practices, we offer advice on how to develop a positive business culture that reflects the values and goals of the small business owner.

Clinic: Legal
Local attorneys will discuss the basics of employment law and advise small business owners on how to protect themselves during the hiring and firing process. Participants will also have the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with an attorney to address their current legal questions.

Module 6: Marketing and Selling

Understand your customers' needs
Growth can only occur with a strong marketing and sales effort. This module focuses on understanding customers' needs, target markets and the competition. We will study the fundamentals of sales and marketing and discuss how to develop and execute an effective marketing plan. This highly interactive module also includes exercises to help participants prepare and deliver a sales pitch and a panel of experts to discuss social media-based marketing.

Module 7: Strategic Growth Through Operations

Increase operational efficiencies; improve profitability
Processes are central to everything a business does. In this module participants will evaluate their current operational processes, including workflow and logistics, to better understand and map key components of their business's operations. Participants will also learn how to empower employees to take responsibility for certain processes within operations.

Module 8: Being Bankable

Financing growth
In this module we review the different types of financing available to small businesses, and help participants understand which funding sources are most appropriate for their business. We discuss the value of maintaining important financing relationships with local institutions and help participants become more "bankable." In addition to examining the intricacies of raising capital, we take a step back to provide guidance on how to assess and value their company and the resources required for future business growth.

Module 9: Action for Growth

Sharing the growth plan
During the final session of the 10,000 Small Businesses curriculum, participants will have the opportunity to present their growth plans and receive feedback from their business advisors and peers as they hone and prepare to implement their strategies. In this session we will discuss the role of external business advisors (e.g., mentors, consultants, advisory boards) and introduce the program's alumni program. We will also revisit possible exit strategies and provide guidance on how to choose among and execute an exit strategy.