The best-kept small business secret in Utah

Guest post by Richard Swart

The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program at Salt Lake Community College is probably the single most impactful program for small business owners in Utah—and one that most small business owners don’t know about.  All banks have an obligation to give back to their communities as part of the Community Reinvestment Act. Goldman Sachs has taken an innovative approach. After spending more than a year doing research on the U.S. economy and small businesses, they realized the best way to jump start the economy is to equip small business owners to grow their businesses.

The Goldman Sachs foundation has committed $500,000,000 (no, that is not a typo) to training 10,000 small business owners in the United States to grow and scale their existing businesses.  Utah is one of 11 sites in the United States, and it should not come as a surprise that the first cohort of Utah small business owners to graduate from the program set national records for job creation and revenue growth.  

This first class of 33 small business owners completed the program in May of 2013.  They have so far hired at least 74 full-time employees—and they have increased their sales by tens of millions of dollars.  How does Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program pull this off? The program is an intense mentoring and education program, but unlike an MBA program or college class, participants work on their own businesses—studying them and making changes to improve their business. Several businesses are posed for major growth and expansion.

The program is competitive. Small business owners have to apply at and it requires that participants be committed to growing their businesses and be able to step away from running their businesses every Friday for about 20 weeks to work on learning to grow.  Instructors come from the community. Instead of college faculty, they are highly regarded experts from Utah with an average of more than 20 years’ experience.  You will learn from the best and you will learn what works in this market.

Is there a secret to the success of this program in Utah? One explanation may be that the program has had 44 percent women-owned businesses.  Nationally, women-owned businesses represent less than 20 percent of scholars in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program. While there are many reasons why Utah is leading the nation in outcomes, it is clear that these women business owners bring different ideas, experience and a drive to the program that are part of the secret of its success. The dynamics of the cohorts is amazing and these business owners are doing amazing things.  

If you have been in business two years, have at least four employees, and revenues of at least $150,000 a year, you should consider applying. Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program is fully supported by the foundation. There is no catch—you don’t owe the program anything but your willingness to work hard and grow your business to improve our economy.

Richard Swart is a leader in Utah’s Entrepreneur Community, founder of the Entrepreneurs Circle, and a recognized world-wide authority in crowd funding. He has taught at Utah State University, the University of Utah and is now directing a research program at University of California, Berkeley. He is a consultant for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program in Utah.


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