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: Comprehensive Business Planning – The next session begins January 23, 2020! 

  • Runs twice per year, in the Fall and Spring semesters
  • Requires an application and interview
  • Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Contact Lisa Wood, Director, Women’s Small Business Program, to learn more

The Women’s Small Business Program (WSBP), Start Up class has run continuously since 1989. This semester-long class helps women gain knowledge and build skills in the areas of business operations, marketing, and business financials. Using the framework of writing 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 features visits from 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.

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.

Ongoing 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 the opportunity to participate in a mock interview with a lender. This business professional will give you specific feedback on your business plan. You’ll leave the class with a business idea rigorously fleshed out, and your idea will be tested against multiple perspectives about how it matches up with your vision.

A Sampling of the Course Curriculum: Content for the Real World


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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 WSBP alum network, plus special workshops and offers available just for program alums.