NEWBERRY — The Newberry Downtown Development Association will soon offer FastTrac, a program designed to give entrepreneurs the tools to strengthen and grow their business.
“The Ewing Kauffman Foundation is a national organization that was founded based on the principal that small business is the backbone of the U.S. economy, and if you give entrepreneurs the tools to strengthen and grown their business, you will strengthen and grow the U.S. economy,” said Aimee Talbot, vice president of NDDA.
FastTrac is a 10 week program the Foundation developed, and Talbot says it is basically a mini business school for entrepreneurs.
“Whether or not you went to business school, or got an MBA, it is an exceptional program because so often, as small business owners, you are caught up in the crisis of the day, whatever fire is burning the biggest. That is what you have to work on that day,” she said. “Personally, I feel sometimes my business runs me, rather than me run my business, constantly having to solve this crisis and that crisis and put this fire out. Where as it becomes difficult to step back and think strategically of how to grow your business, but that is so critical for small business owners to do.”
During the 10 weeks in FastTrac, entrepreneurs will be able to do an analysis of their business, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. Allowing them to look out, and then come up with ideas of how they think they can grow their business, then going through the steps to make an action plan.
FastTrac is open to any type of business, from a gift shop to a funeral home and everything in-between.
“Business is business, so there are principals of business of how to grow bigger, how to differentiate yourself in the market, how to create your value of why customers come to you and how to expand the message out to your market,” Talbot said. “Doesn’t matter your industry, small business principals are the same.”
According to Talbot, the preference for FastTrac is existing entrepreneurs, but new businesses can also go through the 10 week program.
“This is exceptionally helpful for people who have been in business for a while, because often times you come up with, ‘well this is how we’ve always done it and this is my business model.’ But if you aren’t constantly changing and adapting to the market, which is constantly changing and adapting, eventually you will be sitting on the sideline and other people will grab your market,” Talbot said. “It is a way for small business owners, even if they’ve been in business 15-20 years, to step back and say, ‘okay, how can I make my business better.’”
That is why the NDDA wanted to bring the training to Newberry, it is the first step in their campaign to market Newberry as an exceptional place to do business. The first step is to strengthen the businesses already in Newberry.
“Show we have support for the small business community. Then over the next year we are going to focus on bringing new business to Newberry to fill the vacant shops on Main Street. Once we get Main Street really growing and thriving, then we will continue to work outward and grow the entire community,” Talbot said.
Preference for FastTrac will be given to Newberry County residents. There are 15-20 spots available, and a spot can go to a business or non-profit organization. Each business or non-profit that signs up can send two people to the program.
“You don’t always hear everything, but if your partner is there with you, you will hear different things. It will also give you somebody to talk through and work through the strategy you are developing,” Talbot said.
The City of Newberry, Newberry County and the Chamber of Commerce have all contributed funds to putting on FastTrac. Newberry College is hosting the program at the Center For Teacher Education. Professor Paul Smith, a business professor at the college, will be teaching the course with Tom Ledbetter, owner of Next Phase Management.
Talbot thanked all of the sponsors for FastTrac, including Figaro Hospitality, which will be providing sandwiches during the class.
There will be an information session at the Newberry Opera House next Thursday, August 9 at 6 p.m. Individuals can sign up for the course then, or can sign up by going to http://bit.ly/FASTTRAC.
Talbot said there will be a big announcement during the information session that people will not want to miss.
The cost for the course is $150 and all checks can be made payable to the Newberry Downtown Development Association.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.