Entrepreneurship is hard. In fact, according to federal government data, about 20% of start-up businesses fail in their first year, and by the fifth year only about a half survive. There’s no one reason new businesses don’t make it, but in the book, “The E-Myth Revisited,” author Michael Gerber makes the case that often, entrepreneurs are focused on the wrong skills. People start their own businesses because they have a product or service to offer, and they want to work for themselves. “Suddenly,” writes Gerber, “the job [they] knew how to do so well becomes one job [they know] how to do plus a dozen others [they don’t] know how to do at all.”
Those other dozen jobs are all about running a business.
Those of us who work in economic development often encounter the entrepreneur who is struggling with their business operations. But in the last year and a half or so, as we refocused our efforts to help businesses through the economic impacts of COVID, it became very clear that entrepreneurs with basic business skills were better positioned to leverage resources and continue operations through the crisis.
So, the next step in our COVID recovery programs is what we are calling the Business Growth Advantage Program – BGAP for short.
BGAP will be a business training curriculum that will be offered at no cost to Charles County-based business owners – especially targeted to micro, small, minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses. Through a series of once a week, online training sessions, entrepreneurs will be taught practical skills to immediately put into action within their companies. Training will address business basics such as understanding operations management, financial statements, record keeping, readiness for accessing capital, traditional and digital marketing, understanding customer needs, human resources, and building capacity.
BGAP training will be ongoing, with 10-15 entrepreneurs enrolled at a time. After one group completes the 6-8 week training and graduates, a new class will be launched. The program will be funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and will continue under ARPA guidelines as long as there is interest.
The Charles County Economic Development Department is currently in the process of procuring a firm or consultant to work with us to provide this service to our small, local businesses. We expect to launch the program early next year. If you’re interested in the procurement, you’ll find it here. If you’re interested in participating in BGAP, be sure to follow us on social media or sign up to receive our e-news to be among the first to hear when the program is launched.