April 2015, Volume 19, Number 2

Powerful Partnerships


Golden Results

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB) program at MDC has just graduated its third cohort, and the positive results are reverberating through the region.

The national initiative began in 2009, and Goldman Sachs has pledged $500 million to finance the endeavor and make it a success. The 10KSB program provides assistance with planning, structure, execution and pitches. Peer-to-peer learning, collegiality, cohort diversity and mutual assistance also play important parts.

Coursework, developed primarily by Babson College, is considered the gold standard for these types of business programs.

“It’s a mature curriculum,” said John Hall, executive director of the 10KSB program at MDC.

Successful local business leaders and MDC professors teach modules in the program. One key is the Comprehensive Growth Plan (CGP) that all scholars develop for their enterprises.

“The CGP is their roadmap for how to fulfill their vision, so if a scholar seeks to grow from $200,000 to $500,000 or from $2 million to $20 million in a given period, the CGP provides concrete guidelines on how to do that.”

The program has rung up some noteworthy successes and big numbers in just a few years. Graduation rates for 10KSB nationally are 99 percent. “At MDC, it’s 100 percent,” Hall said.

The businesses run by the 10KSB scholars have benefited, but they aren’t the only ones.

“While we are still tabulating data, at this point it appears revenues of several graduates have already increased in the past 12 months,” Hall said. “Beyond that, these businesses have created more than 100 new local jobs, women-owned businesses constitute more than 35 percent of cohorts and the percentage of minority-owned businesses exceeds their population proportion.

Compressed Learning Curve

Daphne Gurri is principal and founding partner of Gurri Matute, a Miami architectural firm. She is a registered architect and interior designer, a real estate sales associate, winner of the 2002 American Institute of Architects Young Architect of the Year award and a proud MDC graduate.

“For me, 10KSB was very valuable since I didn’t have a business background. The program gives hyper-courses on very specific topics,” Gurri said. “It’s like going through a master’s compressed into 13 weeks.”

She found two aspects of the program especially helpful. One, called “You Are the Leader,” makes business owners step back from the day-to-day operations to look at their businesses more broadly and strategically. The other was defining true opportunities for growth.

“You may have a great idea, but there’s no market for it,” said Gurri. “You don’t have time to try every idea you come up with, so you have to find market data that shows something is viable.

Unprecedented Growth

Excellent Fruit & Produce President Enrique Torres was looking for ways to grow his business.

“In 10 years in business, we never had more than 12 percent growth in any year,” he said.

The leader of the South Florida produce distributor noticed a rapid change after the 10KSB course. “Since I implemented what I learned, revenues increased 50 percent in just one year.”

Torres, who holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics, credits the Comprehensive Growth Plan for leading him to success. “You study areas of your enterprise in great detail, do the workshops and then, at the end, you have a solid framework for growth.”

The 10KSB’s peer-to-peer component also has been beneficial, said Torres. “It’s creating a marketplace, connecting everyone who goes through the program locally and nationally. In fact, one of the peers from my cohort is now a client.”

Mastering the Numbers

Sandra Williams also was part of the third cohort of 10KSB at MDC, and the group found the program so valuable they decided to keep going. “We continue to meet monthly as a business peer-advisory group. We address particular issues and bring in experts to talk to the group,” said Williams.

Williams is owner of Q-Q Research Consultants, a full-service research and evaluation consulting firm focusing on program evaluation, research and planning. She has extensive experience working with foundations, government entities and nonprofits to determine the impact of their investments on the children, families and communities they serve. She has a master’s degree from Teachers College, Columbia University and a doctorate from Florida International University.

“One thing about myself and others in the group is we are really good at what we do, but we often don’t have the background business knowledge,” Williams said. “The program helped me get a hold on profit and loss statements and balance sheets, and that has allowed me to master the finances.”

The results of the 10KSB program at Miami Dade College speak for themselves.

“We just graduated, but I can say that I am anticipating 150 percent growth. My efforts are much more targeted, and I can attribute our growth to the Comprehensive Growth Plan that we developed in the program.”

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