I’ve owned my company for 25 years, and it’s been a lot more years than that since I graduated from anything other than the school of hard knocks. That changed last week when I walked onto the stage with 30 other small business owners as a graduate of the Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses program, aka 10KSB.
Getting into 10KSB was neither quick nor easy, and honestly, there were days it seemed impossible to both run a company and finish a program with 10-hour classes, homework between, and advisors holding my feet to the fire. The program is not for the weak-willed, but then, neither is owning a business.
The Goldman Sachs team uses a smart blend of talking and doing to move through a Babson College curriculum that covers finance, human resources, negotiation, operations and more, with lecturers from places like the Wharton School and hands-on activities that put learning to immediate work. Who knew quilt making could clarify management styles, or that buying corella pears holds the secret to negotiating? We re-examined how we lead, how we think, grow and plan, and in five lightspeed months, 30 entrepreneurs that had seemed to have little in common had become a team of warriors who will be in the trenches together for a long time to come.
I can’t say enough good things about this remarkable gift I received, funded by Goldman Sachs to the tune of $500 million and delivered free (yes, free!) to qualifying entrepreneurs. Their aim is to prompt job creation and economic growth by providing access to education, capital, and business support services.
It’s the right blend of toughness and support, book learning and street smarts, programmed and organic. Most of us walked in tired and wrung out, uncertain of where to go next or, even if we did, how to get there. Our exit, on the other hand, was sea change. I walked out on a measurable path forward, with a growth plan in hand and a thrill I haven’t felt in years.
It’s a Friday – the weekday we used to have class. Someone right now is sitting in the seat I used to occupy at LaGuardia Community College, beginning the experience of a lifetime. Work on the business not in the business will start to have real meaning for them soon and maybe, they, too, will spend their first no-class Friday looking back and ahead all at once.
This thing isn’t about making one-hit wonders or overnight success. But if you’re looking for sustainable growth that adds jobs and leaves a footprint, this one click could help you make it happen.