By BECKY GILLETTE
The SBA Mississippi District Office is currently seeking small-business owners who want to improve their profits and help create economic growth by participating in the SBA 2018 Emerging Leaders Executive Training Program.
Emerging Leaders is an intensive executive-level entrepreneurship training program for small-business owners who want to take their businesses to the next level of success.
“This will be the fourth consecutive year that Jackson has been selected for the Emerging Leaders Program,” said SBA Mississippi District Director Janita R. Stewart. “We are pleased that our capital city has been included yet again in this highly-sought after executive level entrepreneurship training program amongst 60 other cities throughout the country. We strongly encourage business owners who qualify for this program to submit their application for consideration. There are many phenomenal businesses within/around the Jackson metro area that, with the assistance of this training program, could take their businesses to the next level and beyond.”
The program has been around since 2008, with the first class held in Jackson in 2015. To qualify, the small business must have been established for at least three years, be located in Hinds County or surrounding areas and have at least one other employees besides the owner. The type of businesses involved differ. They need to have annual revenue between $400,000 and $10 million, but firms are not disqualified solely on the basis of annual revenue.
SBA Mississippi District Office Deputy District Director Gary Reed said the program begins in April and runs through October with three-hour classes meeting twice a month. The class meets with different groups and also individuals work with each other. John Brandon, formerly of the Mississippi Development Authority, will serve as the instructor for the classes that will be held at the Mississippi District Office Conference Room (10th floor) in Jackson.
What they have found is that participants may represent far different business categories, but they still learn from each other and benefit from interacting.
“We choose not to have two businesses too close to what they do so it is easier to share ideas regarding that effort,” Reed said.
Jason Thompson, principal of Fahrenheit Creative Group, LLC, a marketing and communication firm in Jackson, said taking the Emerging Leaders course in 2017 was definitely a benefit to his business, which does work primarily for non-profit and government agencies in the Southeast and Washington, D.C.
“It was definitely a time commitment, but throughout that process what I gained and fellow participants gained was a more expansive of network of peers we can rely on to work through higher-level business decisions,” Thompson said. “We gained access to leaders at the state levels and also some at the federal levels, and then some private business leaders who could unlock capital. The program helped us understand how we can engage to continue to get better, which is essential for small businesses who want to not just sustain their growth, but increase their growth every year.”
Thompson encourages other small business owners and entrepreneurs to consider the program.
“The most important thing it did for me was make me focus on the essentials to a successful business,” Thompson said. “It made you take that time off to look at your finances, look at your hiring practices, and look at your goal setting – things you don’t always do when you are mired in the day-to-day operation of the business. It helps you think about things that will help you be successful in the long term.”
Earl Washington, owner, U.S. Coating Specialists & Supplies, who took the course in 2015, said he got a lot from it.
“One of the things I was able to take what I learned and go on a trade mission to Germany,” Washington said. “I also invented a product called the StayCool Cap (www.consumerproducts.us) and right now have it patented. It looks like it is going to be a pretty good product for keeping the head and neck cool during outdoor activities like work and sports.”
Washington said the program covers all the basics teaching people how to market and manage a business for success.
Another program graduate, Carolyn Evers Cockrell, president/CEO of Premiere Shredding Inc., Jackson, said a lot of the things taught in the class she already knew. But the participating in the initiative gave her motivation and re-energized her in moving her company up to the next level.
“I have learned that being a ‘bottleneck’ can only hurt my business and stiffen the growth potential it has,” she said. “Delegate, delegate, delegate.”
Reed said the program has trained thousands of small business owners nationally. He said proof of the success of the program is that graduates have created about 3,000 full-time jobs since the program’s inception. About 72 percent of graduates surveyed have maintained or created new jobs in their communities.
Graduate businesses have secured more than $73 million in financing. And Reed said the program also helps increase confidence and competence when competing for government contracts. Program graduates have received more than $1 billion in federal, state, local and tribal contracts.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, Jeremy.email@example.com or call (601)-965-4986. Applicants may register at http://www.interise.org/sbaemergingleaders.
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