Ready for a Business Plan?

Taking your idea from concept to reality
Ready to take action in starting or expanding your business? This course is where you can turn your idea into a reality.

This is a rigorous course, and is ideal for those who:

  • Have a solid business idea
  • Are able to make a significant time investment in bringing their idea to reality

 
Start Up class: Comprehensive Business Planning
 
Runs Fall and Spring
Requires application and interview
Cycle 58 will run Thursday, August 30 – Friday, December 7
Contact Lisa Wood, Director, Women’s Small Business Program, to learn more
lwood@mercyconnections.org

The hallmark class in the Women’s Small Business Program (WSBP), Start Up has run continuously since 1989. This 15-week class helps women build their business knowledge, planning and financial skills. Using the framework of a business plan, students learn the language of business and build an outstanding personal and professional network along the way.

To give you a holistic perspective on the business planning process, the class is taught in three content areas: Marketing, Operations, Financials, by seasoned instructors.

Building a professional network

The class also features a host of guest speakers who are experts in their fields. When you graduate from Start Up, you’ll know who to go to with the many questions that are bound to come up in your business.

Hear successful entrepreneurs ‘tell-all’

  • WSBP alum
  • Attorney
  • Accountant
  • Web strategy expert
  • Market research guru
  • Financing expert
  • Social media strategist
  • Sales process expert

You’ll also have the opportunity to participate in Resource Night, a specialized networking event where you can connect with people and resources more directly related to your specific business arena.

On-going feedback

Throughout the class, you’ll build your plan by working on individual pieces to the content area. These all go to instructors for feedback. As the course continues, you’ll meet with the full instructor team for feedback. Then, at the completion of the course, you’ll meet with a final review team and a lender. These folks are people for whom business plans and processing is a part of their lifeblood: service providers, entrepreneurs, academics. They’ll give you even more feedback on your strategy.

Finally, you’ll have a ‘mock interview’ with a lender. This business professional will give you specific feedback on the financial part of your plan. You’ll leave the class with a business idea rigorously fleshed out. Your idea will be tested against multiple perspectives about how it matches up with your vision.

Course Curriculum: Content for the Real World

Marketing

  • Identifying your customer and their needs
  • Defining and describing your products and services
  • Identifying the competition and determining how you’ll stand out
  • What’s your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)?
  • Pricing your product/service
  • Building a marketing and advertising strategy, schedule, and budget
  • Building a brand and incorporating social responsibility values

Operations

  • Developing your personal skills; taking care of yourself in business start up
  • Defining your business vision + mission
  • Determining why you’re writing the plan, who needs to see it, and what you need
  • Developing a schedule of tasks that need to be done in your business and how they’ll get done
  • Need to hire someone to do those tasks? Navigating the hiring process
  • Outlining your production and service management strategy
  • Determining how you’ll manage relationships with clients and suppliers
  • Developing skills like negotiations and assertive communication
  • Pitching your business idea in a variety of ways

 Financials

  • Creating a personal spending plan and Net Worth Statement
  • Determining when and how much risk you can take on to start the business
  • Understanding and creating the major financial documents you’ll need:
  • Cash Flow Statement
  • Income Statement
  • Balance Sheet
  • Researching start up costs
  • Calculating when you’ll make enough in revenue to cover your costs
  • Working the numbers so they reflect the story of your business
  • Projecting financials for the business up to 5 years
  • Identifying potential funding streams (capital)

What’s your definition of success?

Not everyone who enters the class finishes the business plan. Sometimes, participants find the current iteration of their idea isn’t feasible at this time. Or, they realize they don’t want to pursue the original idea to fruition. Other times, students start to experience success with their business during the class, and that takes them away from being able to finish the plan. Every class, though, we can guarantee: you’ll build a network second to none.
 
Your WSBP network

You’re in a class with up to 15 other women doing the same thing as you: attempting to start or grow their own business. In an environment that’s very hard to find elsewhere, you’ll find the personal and professional support you’ll need.

In the safe, supportive, fun classroom environment, you’ll build a network where you’ll share resources, information, time, laughter, and even the stress.  You’ll find help with solutions to the variety of issues you face – and not just about your business.

Once you graduate, you’re not on your own. You’ll have access to the 1500+ member WSBP alum network. You will be amazed at the support and guidance from the hundreds of women who have gone before you.