Worcester Small Business Owners Complete Innovative MBA Program
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Small business owners throughout Greater Worcester, including some from the area's more economically distressed and low-income neighborhoods, recently completed Interise’s StreetWise ‘MBA’ program aimed at helping entrepreneurs create jobs and grow the economy locally.
The program, which the entrepreneurial nonprofit Interise offers in three other regions of the state and through partnerships and licenses in 34 additional cities around the country, allowed employers to work ‘on’ their business instead of ‘in’ it. This session included small business owners from Fitchburg, Gardner, Auburn, Worcester, Oxford and other locations in a host of different industries – from food to automobile to real estate.
Rather than studying large corporations, participants in the StreetWise ‘MBA’ program worked on their own business. Each business functioned as a live case and owners use their own experience as a case study. Business owners applied the lessons they learned about each topic to their own business and began to immediately implement change in how their company operates.
“We have heard such wonderful stories from graduates of our Worcester County program and are thrilled that it is enabling business owners to add jobs and in turn is helping the local economy,” said Jean Horstman, CEO of Interise, the nonprofit which developed the award-winning curriculum and manages the program.
Since 2004, Interise has taken an innovative approach to economic development in lower-income communities by helping existing small business owners plan, achieve, and manage the long-term growth of their business.
The Worcester County Class
The recent Worcester class was made up of driven and passionate business owners like Lisa DeMayo. DeMayo’s devotion to making her Williamstown horse farm a thriving business led her to drive the two-and -a -half -hour commute to Worcester for the class twice each month for seven months.
Graduates of the most recent Worcester class include: William and Nancy Pratt of House of Wheels, based in Auburn; Branch Yules of Touchstone Apartments, based in Ashland; Dennis O’Connor of Superior Waste and Recycling, based in Worcester; Todd Anderson of RC Excitement, based in Fitchburg; Joseph Blue of Blue Stone Masonry, based in Worcester; Robert Leveillee of Pizza Post Oxford, based in Oxford; Lisa DeMayo of Bonnie Lea Farm, based in Williamstown; and Charles Carroll of Nu Café, based in Gardner.
The program covered a wide range of topics including business development, strategic planning, government contracts, marketing and sales, and access to capital and human resources. Classes met bi-weekly and started on January 22 at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester.
Participants also made valuable connections with other business owners like themselves. After completing the program, they are able to reach out to each other for advice and recommend ideas to one another. Some participants in the Worcester-area program have continued to meet as business peers after the program.
“We are very excited about the continued success and growing interest in our Worcester area program,” said program manager Monica Royston. “This was a great group and we’re confident another great group will come in behind them with our next class in December.”
“This course was a real blessing for us. We learned to know and understand our numbers and which ones were important, how to think about marketing our business differently, and some fresh ways to look at hiring decisions," said Nancy Pratt of House of Wheels in Auburn.
"Most importantly, the course forced us to really think about where we wanted the business to go and plan for it. The instructor was terrific, we were connected with a wealth of resources to help us going forward, and perhaps best of all, we made some wonderful new friends – business owners like us going through the same things we’re going through. Meeting together in class and in small groups, we were able to help each other out many times. Even though the class has ended, we continue to meet together and be accountable to each other for following through with our plans.”
Who Can and Should Participate
The StreetWise ‘MBA’ is designed for existing small businesses – those that have: been in business for a minimum of 3 years; have annual revenues above $250,000; at least one employee on payroll other than the CEO/owner; and a desire to grow.
Participants receive a certificate of small business and entrepreneurship and a Strategic Growth Action Plan - a three year plan designed throughout the program outlining the goals of the business and the action steps required to achieve them.
For more information please visit www.interise.org.
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