Local business owners have a relatively new resource if they are looking to take their business further than they can on their own.
Goldman Sachs’ program called 10,000 Small Business is a nationwide program that came to Iowa in 2019 with the goal of helping small business owners accelerate their growth.
It’s a 12-week curriculum-based program that focuses on practical business skills that can be applied by owners of small businesses.
During the 12 weeks, business owners have the chance to network and learn from each other while receiving coaching from the program’s business advisors. After completing the program, business owners join an ever-growing network of alumni across the state and the country.
David Barwin, the business program coordinator and a professor at Iowa Central Community College, has been the lead faculty for the program in the Iowa junior colleges. He’s recently been named as a lead faculty member for the program on the national level.
“Three years ago, Jim Kersten (vice president at Iowa Central) came to me and said they were looking to bring this program to Iowa and they want to have it at the community college level. So I applied to be a faculty member and was accepted,” Barwin said.
Barwin then attended training at Babson University in Boston. He said it’s the No. 1 entrepreneurial school in the country, part of the reason it was chosen by Goldman Sachs to write the curriculum.
“After the training, I just ran one of the modules for the first year,” Barwin said. “It’s about culture and hiring and setting yourself up to hire the right people for the job. The program itself is designed to help business owners that have gotten past the startup.”
Business owners go through the nine modules in 12 weeks.
Modules range from lessons in growing businesses to marketing and selling along with financial lessons and lessons on relationships with employees. According to the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business website, the curriculum is organized into nine modules and four clinics geared around small business management training, each of which includes classroom discussion, peer learning exercises, skill building and experiential applications.
Classroom activities are complemented by an integrated portfolio of business services, including: one-on-one business advice, legal and financial clinics, and networking opportunities.
“They are extremely applicable to their businesses,” said Barwin. “It puts them in a position to create a growth plan for their business, which will essentially lead to hiring more people. So they grow their business and they hire more people, which obviously helps the local economy.”
As the lead faculty member in Iowa, Barwin now oversees the construction of new modules. He works with faculty members from all the Iowa community colleges in the program as well. The program is based out of Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny.
“I really love it because I am on the front line with these business owners. This program is so impactful and they all highly recommend it after they’ve gone through it,” he said.
Goldman Sachs funds the entire program so there is no cost to business owners who are accepted into it. Barwin, admitted though, that often business owners are skeptical when he promotes the program to them.
“The question always comes up ‘What do you really want from me? Is this really free?’ But I tell them I wouldn’t be a part of this if it wasn’t going to help them. There are a lot of benefits for the local community by them going back and growing their business.”
Six area businesses are alumni from the Iowa Central region.
• Mona Everson, Life and Health Care
• Ben Pingel, Pingel Farms
• Maureen Seamonds, MyMedMart
• Todd McCubbin, Shiny Top Brewing
• Cheryl O’Hern, Spin Markket
• Brian Pederson, Blue Ribbon Pelham Waters
According to the program’s website, 97 percent of business owners complete the 12-week program.
More than 60 percent of businesses in the program report increased revenues within six months of completing the program.
Nearly 50 percent of businesses report creating new jobs within six months of completing the program and 86 percent of graduating business owners report they are currently doing business with other graduates of the program.
“I just love being a part of this program,” said Barwin. “It’s really special and I am passionate about serving others. I get to see the impact it makes on them in real time. It’s just so invaluable.”
Business owners interested in the program can visit https://www.10ksbapply.com for more information and to apply for the program. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
Barwin said the next module will start in September and then another in February. They’ll be the eighth and ninth sessions for Iowa businesses.