By: Patricia Greene
Professor of Entrepreneurship

This month we kicked off a new component of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB) through a partnership between the Goldman Sachs Foundation and the Tory Burch Foundation. This program is complementary to our core program and uses an adaptation of the 10KSB curriculum content and our unique delivery model to work with a select set of businesses at the 10KSB LaGuardia Community College site. The business owners chosen for the program are smaller (their businesses, that is) and generally at an earlier stage than for the original 10KSB program.

In order to get ready for this program our big effort was to think carefully about what really needs to be different about the program to best match and support the needs for business growth of this particular group. It is our first time to partner with another foundation, our first time to work with earlier stage 10KSB business owners, and also, due to the nature of the Tory Burch Foundation programs, our first time to have a cohort of all women business owners. Where to start?

We naturally started with theory. I know that comes as a shocker to some folks, however, one of our 10KSB mantras is “invisible theory, practically actionable, immediately”. We pour and mix liberally the heavy doses of entrepreneurial experience that the design and delivery teams bring to the table, but we start with what we’ve learned over the past few decades about early stage businesses and the people who grow them. In this case, the women who grow them. And so for this program our design approach led us to make changes to allow a different kind of focus on types of growth, a more basic start to financial decision making (Please know that this is due to the stage of the business, not the sex of the owner), and what may turn out to be the most important adjustment, additional work on developing an aspiration vision.

We celebrated the end of our first day with a round table discussion hosted by Gail Mellow, President of LaGuardia Community College, and featuring Dina Powell, President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, Tory Burch, founder of her eponymous company and foundation, Jane Schulman, Vice President of the Division of Adult and Continuing Education at LaGuardia Community College, and the 19 women of this new 10KSB cohort. We have the Vegas rule in10KSB aka what happens in the program stays in the program. So all I can say for now is that the day seemed to work. Our goal for this first day is to focus on sparking the entrepreneurial mindset, flipping the switch from small business owner to Entrepreneurial Leader. (Funny, I didn’t capitalize that. My iPad now seems to capitalize Those words all by itself. I’m actually okay with that.) When all 19 women were asked about their takeaway from the day, the two major themes were about a renewed energy for and confidence about building their businesses and an enthusiasm for diving into the work of the program, including writing their growth plan. When is the last time you heard someone looking forward to their homework?