“Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program has Nothing to Teach ME!” Right? After 18 years in business I thought I had most things figured out… and now that I”m almost half way through the Goldman Sach’s program I can share what I have learned… about the program.
First, I’d have to spend some time orienting you to the program… They consider it not just a training but a full course just like any other college. They say that IF we graduate that we will become alumni of the college. And what are we have to do in order to graduate? We have to produce a whole paper, 50 + pages, and do presentations as if we are speaking to bankers. From what I can tell so far the program helps you choose an area that you can expand your company into, It helps you do financial projections and prepare for the marketing and other aspects so that you can become bankable… A problem that many companies face is not being bankable so they can’t make the expansions that they need.
So let’s get really oriented:
Classes are held each week, normally on a Friday, and they last ALLLL day. Most of the major classes are called Mods. Missing a full day out of any week is a lot of commitment, AND missing a full day of work, out of around 12 weeks, is an even larger commitment. The whole program lasts for three months – in our case from September 28 – December 15th.
Who are our educators? They range from people who are closer to professional presenters and motivators to practicing CPAs. Yea the CPA started us with intro to financial statements to financial projections for the next 5 years – (thank you Eric Bosch of LaPorte CPAs & Business Advisors). So many of the speakers are experienced and specialized in their industry. This past week our leader was a national expert on Negotiations, Mori Taheripour. She was very good and I look forward to our next class.
So with my 18 years of experience of just “being in business,” I’ve had some ups and downs. Example:
DOWN: Hurricane Katrina really brought the company DOWN for at least two years and it was almost like starting from scratch but with a lot more overhead.
UP: Refocusing the business in 2015-2016 to start focusing more on helping clients implement Marketing Automation or Product Development.
Pros of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business so far:
- Should I find that I ever need to get a loan to really expand part of the company, I’ll have all of the tools and experience to really do it well.
- I have received validation for several of the things I’m already doing, such as running metrics and benchmarks. When I started this company, whether money was in the bank or not was my only metric for success. Now I have around 10 – 15 that I look at throughout the year and at different monthly increments. I have several that are specific to my industry. Goldman Sachs is showing the businesses in the program how to make some of their own metrics and benchmarks.
- They rotate out the speakers. While most of the people who present are lively and motivating, seeing too much of the same person can get a little boring. Each day we have around 2-3 speakers and it keeps things interesting.
- Coaching. There is a lot that goes on in the classes and each step of the way we are “supposed” to be working on our Growth Plan. That combined with a normal work week of helping my clients get their projects complete or to the next phase it is a challenge to keep it all straight. To help the busy business owner, Goldman Sachs also provides a Coach or Mentor to keep you on track OR if you really don’t know what to do next they can help.
- Some of the things that they are providing to us, like help with 5 year financial projections and the Excel tools to do it, are invaluable.
- I get to network with other business owners who are in the region.
- Interesting to me is that there are other Branding and Marketing companies in this Cohort ( officially Cohort 15). So a major benefit I have found so far is in connecting to the others in my industry here in New Orleans. You would think that we would ignore the others as “competitors” but we have had more success comparing local and national market trends as a group and helping the others think of what is next. I’ve found this very useful.
- Diversity. We have a total of 25 people who are in this Cohort. We are normally broken into sub groups at our tables for lectures. There is a good amount of ethnic diversity as well as business diversity. For instance… at my table there is Design the Planet, Thrive Landscaping, Delta HR & Personnel, Escape My Room New Orleans, and VPG Property Group.
- The food was surprisingly good with lots of healthy options available.
Cons of Goldman Sachs:
- Not many women in the group. There are a few but I think it may be indicative of the total market. Maybe there are just a few less women business owners out there… so far. I know in the Agency world there are a precious few of us in senior roles at any marketing and branding company.
- The coffee isn’t the best so I started to bring in my River Road Coffees from the office.
- There are several “experienced” business owners in the group but several parts of the curriculum are better suited for younger companies. The flip side of this is that even when a topic is being covered that I already understand, I always “walk away” with something new. For instance I already have a strong understanding of my financial statements so when they reviewed the basics and then more advanced financial statements, I felt like a seasoned pro for already having this under my belt, AND later in the same class they introduced another way to look at my financials as a percent. Later they took it even further and also provided a comparison to other companies in my industry so I can see how we compare.
- There is real work that you have to do – outside of the classes (for me normally on Sunday afternoon). They give you a lot of help but there are still a few hours of every week that you must put forth the effort and take care of it yourself. Maybe not completely a “con”… after all… who else is going to build my next Growth Initiative?
That’s about it for now. I can draw more conclusions after I complete the program. We will soon have a Mod on Marketing and I’m very curious to see what they have to offer in that department.