Last night we had a very small session focused on refining business plans. We opened up this class just to our most recent Foundations business class participants, who finished up their six-week course last week. Six of them sent in what they had as business plans, and our presenter, Yolanda Karp, read them over and came to the session with some pointed suggestions to help them move forward. She also worked with all of them on how to clearly articulate who they are, what their business is, and why people should buy their products/invest in them/care what they do.
I grilled the participants afterwards about whether they liked this session, because this sort of follow-up is something we want to do more of. As we get more and more people coming to us and interested in our services, we have to figure out some ways to better serve them, even as our staff capacity stays the same. One way is using the skills of volunteers like Yolanda, who participants said was “a very good facilitator“. They said the session was “very very helpful for encouragement, ideas, and support“, they “got lots of good feedback” and they really appreciated “the personalized aspect of this business plan review“. Another idea we’re ruminating on is to do some sort of peer mentoring session, where clients who’ve been through the Foundations process and are further along in their business experience can help people coming in. All six of the students last night said they’d be willing to act as mentors at some point in the future.
So, we’ve got many exciting ideas for our training sessions in the future. We’re going to continue with our seminar program, inviting our local talent to share their knowledge and skills, but also encouraging our clients to share all the knowledge and experience they already know and have. Hopefully we’ll be able to reach even more people in the Portland small business community, and serve them even better.